Now I’m An Artist


Have you ever made a lifelong ultimatum? Some best friends vow to marry if they are still single by a certain age. Others promise to give up smoking crack cocaine when their kid is born. I promised to leave the corporate world at 40 to become a full-time artist.

Here I am. Two months shy of my 29th birthday, and I am leaving my job in advertising as Business Director. But why? How did I come to this? Is this the stupidest thing one can do in a downward trending economy (though, seemingly at a plateau and on the road to recovery)?

For years I have preached, “follow your passion. If you do what you love, you may take a pay cut up front, but in the long run, you will be happier and will probably earn more.” It was this idea, that propelled me from my job as a recruiter to my now, former job in advertising. I saw an opportunity, and I seized it.

Over the past two years I have lived in Stockholm, traveled to London, Vancouver, San Francisco, Florida and Los Angeles. We’ve had an audience with the best of the best, from consumer brand titans Porsche and Electronic Arts, to actress Cameron Diaz. Today, the agency I am leaving is booming and growing.

But again, something crept into my mind and could not be ignored. There were many moments of consequence, planting the seeds of change. A hockey friend and fellow artist, upon hearing my “paint at 40 scheme” simply asked, “well, if you know you want to paint, what are you waiting for?”

During an elbow bending session with an industry peer, after hearing me speak about my art for five minutes, he plainly stated, “well, it’s obvious you must be take some time to be an artist. The corporate world isn’t going anywhere, and a friend of mine who left the agency world to become an artist, returned and was even more successful.”

My close, and longtime friend Paul Ryan has been a steadfast supporter of my work, and he himself has begun to paint. Where would I be without my incredibly supportive, wonderful, beautiful and 100% unique girlfriend and companion Erin? She gave me a personal card on my first and last day of work – amazing woman. I’m fortunate to have an extensive network of caring and loving friends, and of course my family, whom I love with everything I have.

I cannot see into the future, if I could, I would copy the renderings of a simple invention like the paperclip, go back in time to present day and “invent” this relatively mundane consumer good and live in spoiled rich anonymity. Alas, this cannot happen. But what I can do about my life is what I do on a day-to-day basis.

So for now, I am going to paint. Every day. Around the city, in my studio, on vacation. Will my “career” go anywhere? How long will this last? I have no idea. Art, like anything in life, is subject to luck, fortune, the cosmos, fate, chance and mathematical odds. Will I be hanging in the Guggenheim, or will I be sweeping the floors of the MOMA? Could I end up back in advertising by the time my relatively meager savings runs out?

I am not going to worry about tomorrow. I am focused on today. Living the moment. I thank everyone who has helped me get to where I am, and for everyone that will be there for me in the future. You live, and you die. I will go knowing I tried to be a professional artist living in New York City.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Borbay, great news mate…I have often had the same dream about doing photography but never had the ‘ cajones ‘ like you to do something about it! Fantastically inspiring philosophy on the ‘ one life, live it’ theme…..I look forward to hearing great things about you….and as u say if all else fails, you certainly won’t have for following your chosen path……there will be no ‘if onlys’……..Gazza

  2. Borbay says:

    @Rachel: Thank you! If you would like a link back to your site, please email me the details:

    @Gazza: I wouldn’t downsize your cajones, having left the life of a rich man in Dubai to teach underprivileged children in Caracas is nothing short of bowling balls (American Size.) Thank you for checking in, I hope to see you and meet your fiancée soon.

  3. Bankim says:

    Great to hear that you’re following your dreams! I’m envious, but lucky that I’ve been able to keep doing things I like and stay employed in the process. Keep playing hockey on the side, though, I hear NHL scouts are always looking for unknown draft picks at Chelsea…

  4. Go hard, be strong and if it feels right go with it. Whatever happens you will be a better man for it!!!! When you are hanging at the MOMA help a brother out!! 🙂

  5. Borbay says:

    @Banks: Thank you for stopping by, I am not sure if I would be scouted for anything other than smack-talk on the hockey side, but we will see. You’re in DC now?

    @Pat: As your unofficial manager, I will use all the powers of my mustache to help promote your work.

  6. Kt says:

    Awesome mon!
    Seriously –
    It’s always an inspiring moment to watch someone following what they believe.
    I so admire the guts it takes, and wish I could grow some.

    Many of us come from a honored line of people who chose and taught to ‘play it safe’.
    Now looking back however, it’s hard to say if we were ever really happy, nor could we honestly claim something vivid to mark our lives…
    It’s so easy to get mired in self-inflicted ‘duties’ and at the end become nothing but slaves to the hope of ‘safety’. Mice huddled against potential disasters, dispensing dire warnings to make timidity seem like wisdom….

    Do you thing J!
    Life is for the living.
    May be we can follow your example … to some degree … right after crack-cocaine PTA lunch

    PS. If all else fails – interesting ‘scars’ make for good stories. It’s better to say “once, when i was painting on a plaza…” than – “once, when i was an accountant…”

  7. Christoph says:

    Jason, I didn’t get to participate in any farewell parties that may have occurred at Continental, so I’m wishing you all the best on your next career moves via this special blog comment. Cheers.

  8. Borbay says:

    @KT: You are awesome, thank you for sharing your thoughts – I appreciate your support! Soon, road trip.

    @Christoph: Thank you for stopping by, I actually missed the Friday festivities myself since I had a hockey game. Be sure to email me any links you would like me to post on my homepage:

    @Dan: Now that I have more time, we are long overdue for a couple of beers… let’s set something up!

  9. gregorylent says:

    what else to do? if the answer is NOTHING! then you are in the flow of being you. great news.

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