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  • Writer's pictureKirsten Robertson

Living a Portfolio Life

Updated: Mar 11, 2020

Your calling is not just one thing; it's a few things. The trick is to not be a jack-of-all-trades but to become a master of some. ~ Jeff Goins | The Art of Work

I have been a Closet Creative my whole life. I remember proudly the turkey I drew in first grade that won me a free dinner at the local diner. As a child obsessed with horses, I spent hours upon hours drawing them, checking out how-to books from the library to become a better “horse-drawer”. In high school I found photography, loved everything about it and worked in a camera store with a bunch of other crazy kids my age who I am happy to say are still some of my oldest friends. (Ah the memory of making fake-ID’s in the back room!)

I stuck with photography through my first year of college declaring it as my major and becoming one of the school newspaper’s sports photographers. That is, until my parents stepped in. They didn’t really see photography as a viable way of paying the bills and frankly, neither did I (remember this was the late 80’s). So off to business school I went for a degree in marketing and sales.

After college, I worked in corporate sales for 15 years, never really feeling like I chose the right career. I was always longing for something more creative. I went to landscape design school in the evenings. I never finished but I learned a lot. Then about 15 years back I decided to become a real estate broker which was an excellent fit for me in many ways. It combines sales and marketing in a unique way that keeps me interested. During all these years though, I have always had a creative side interest. After landscape design and during a period of 4 years that I stayed home with my kids, I obtained my florist certification, then started a business in home décor, and then learned graphic design and the accompanying software programs. I use all of these things almost every day in real estate and knowing them has enhanced my business. I can help my clients with staging or planting, I can do most of my own graphic design and marketing. I can even construct a killer floral arrangement for that open house!

Recently I read the book, The Art of Work by Jeff Goins. There is a chapter towards the end of the book called the Portfolio Life. It discusses how many creatives and self-employed people tend not to do just one thing, but many. This really spoke to me. I’m not just a real estate broker or a mom or a photographer (more about that later). I’m all of these things and like it that way. I love my real estate clients and I love my creative work. I love to mix the two together. Some may say I’m ADD or easily distracted (squirrel!) but I can’t really imagine living my life any other way. Focusing on one thing would be too boring. I came to the realization that I will never be a high-powered broker with a large team of people and the management that goes with it. It’s just not in me. I like a boutique approach that gives the latitude of time to devote to my clients and still explore other things.

This leads me to my latest, and one of my most fulfilling endeavors- The return of photography into my life. About two years ago I started playing around with photographing homes. I was terrible at first but I have slowly developed skills that I am very happy with. As a bit of a nerd and a lover of gadgets, photography fits me to a T. It is the ultimate combination of art and technology. Shooting interiors and getting great results requires an artistic eye, technical skill and a life of learning. Over the last year it has blossomed into a business for me. A small one but I am being paid for my work so a business it is. This year I decided to take the plunge and get serious about it. It even has a name- Sketchbox Images. For now, it isn’t meant to replace my real estate business but to enhance it. I’m not sure where it will go but I can’t imagine not having this in my life. The excitement I get when I pop that little SD card into my computer and fire up Lightroom and Photoshop can’t be explained. I can get lost in post-processing a photo. It’s like taking a rock and chiseling it into a piece of art… or a great picture.

Photography provides another page in that portfolio that is my life. I can’t wait to see where it goes.

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