Membership Spotlight :: Patrick Saleeby
January 02, 2012 Filed Under: Member Spotlight 2 Comments
Patrick Saleeby, a Charlotte native, is not afraid to make a career change. After graduating from Appalachian State University he became what he had always planned to be: an English teacher. But after only three and a half years he decided he’d had enough of the bureaucratic nightmare that is our nation’s school system. Next he took an interim job with the U.S. Census Bureau while he tried to figure out his next career move. During this time he also learned, as a clerk extraordinaire, that he would never trust the Census Bureau’s numbers again. He had simply seen too much. When it was time to move on once again, a friend connected him with a job at one of Charlotte’s big banks. After almost a decade of having his soul slowly sucked out of him, Patrick had grown tired of being under Corporate America’s mighty thumb. (Are you sensing a pattern yet?) Ultimately Patrick took a leap of faith to follow his dream of being a writer and being his own boss. While his attempt at the Great American Novel still sits idly in his desk, he has made a new career as a freelance copywriter in his hometown. He works with a variety of local creative teams, but also has a handful of individual clients too. For more information, please visit patricksaleeby.com.
What’s your proudest accomplishment?
I have a great deal of pride about walking away from a fairly lucrative job in Corporate America. I hated my job, so I’m sure that makes it seem like it was an easy decision. But I had a lot of security. I was making a great living. But I was so unfulfilled, and I literally couldn’t stand myself. It’s easy to get caught up in pointing a finger at Corporate America, and all of its hypocrisies and frustrations and idiosyncrasies, but the truth is I knew I wasn’t doing what I should be doing, what I was good at doing, and it slowly ate away at me. At the end of the day we control our destinies, and I definitely wasn’t controlling mine. The longer I was there the more I realized I had to make a change or I would regret it. But all of that doesn’t change the fact that there’s so much risk in walking away. And there’s even more risk when you jump into a completely new field. It’s like starting over. Really, it is starting over. But I knew I could do it. Now, after I’ve had some success, of course I wish I had done it years sooner.
How and why did you get involved with AIGA? Approximately how long have you been involved with the organization?
When I decided to make the move into freelance copywriting, I, of course, started networking and asking for advice. Everyone told me to go to local events, and AIGA was always at the top of the list. I think I went to my first event about a year and a half ago. It was a BuzZ, and that first time I have to admit I wasn’t happy about dragging myself out of bed early to go meet a bunch of people I didn’t know. Now I always look forward to the BuzZ events every first week of the month. I can’t stress enough how helpful and supportive AIGA has been to me. And as a copywriter, I’m in a unique position. At every event I attend I’m surrounded by talented designers. I’ve even been lucky enough to have the opportunity to work with some of them. But I’ve also made friendships that I know will last a very long time. Initially it was also a breath of fresh air to be around so many creative people. When I worked for the bank I had plenty of great colleagues and friends, but it obviously wasn’t a hotbed of creativity.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
Well, being a creative, and you know, a sensitive writerly sort, I’m sure many people – at least those in the creative community – would be surprised to know that I’m a martial artist. Though I’ve dabbled in a variety of different martial arts, my true love is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I happened upon it roughly four years ago. Aside from writing, it’s the only thing I’ve ever genuinely loved doing. I received my purple belt last year and, to be honest, it’s an achievement that I’m extremely proud of. Let me issue people a warning, though: ask me about jiu-jitsu at your own peril. I’ll literally talk your ear off about it.
Where do you see yourself as a copywriter in five years? In ten years? In other words, what issues do you envision will be important to you as a copywriter at those benchmarks in your career?
I probably shouldn’t say this, because it might not sound ambitious enough, but the truth is I don’t know. And I’m okay with that. Because I am having such a blast right now. Obviously I want to continue hooking up with designers, whether it’s an individual or a firm. One of the things I enjoy the most about my job is that I get to work with different designers and creative directors, people who have varying styles. That can range from their work to how they manage projects. Maybe, if I try to look into the future a little bit, I could see myself working at a small firm. Don’t get me wrong; I love freelancing. But when you’re a freelancer the collaborative aspect can sometimes be lacking. You’re given a job to do, and on many occasions the copy needs are somewhat preordained. But I love collaborating with people, throwing ideas at a wall. In many ways I feel like I’m at my creative strongest when I’m given a long leash conceptually. With some of the design firms that I have established relationships with they’ve already provided me that longer leash. And once you get a taste of that, it’s extremely addictive.
What are you currently working on?
I juggled a lot of different projects as 2011 drew to a close. But throughout the year, when we had the time, I worked on a personal project with Susan Walker. She’s an amazing graphic designer, and also a close friend. We just printed our first series of The Queen City Scavenger Hunts, a quirky little labor of love that we put a lot of time and energy into. On the surface they’re Charlotte-centric postcards. But it’s also part photography project, part scavenger hunt. It’s something I think locals will identify with, but I also think the postcards can serve as mementos for visitors passing through. I don’t want to give too much away because I think you have to see them for yourself. We just got them into a few local stores and launched our website. It’s the first time I’ve started on a project like that, completely from scratch, where we could do whatever the hell we wanted. While that aspect of it was liberating, it was easily the most daunting project I’ve ever worked on. But we’re really proud of it. And we’ve already started working on our next series.
About AIGA Charlotte's Member Spotlight
Each month AIGA Charlotte interviews a selected AIGA Charlotte Member. It is a great opportunity for the Charlotte design community to see who AIGA Charlotte is along with all the amazing things our members are doing. If you or someone you know would like to be interviewed and appear on AIGA Charlotte’s Member Spotlight, please contact Kevin Brindley, Membership Director.
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