The importance of passion projects for a balanced career in events

Strata's Ciaran Crudden explains why doing things you love in your spare time can be hugely beneficial to your day job.

Crudden (right) makes films in his spare time
Crudden (right) makes films in his spare time

Ciaran Crudden is design head of studio at Strata Creative Communications.

"Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life" … I’ve always hated that saying.

I suppose your interpretation of that saying largely depends on your definition of the word ‘work’. For some, work is a dirty word, a means to an end, a mere job chaining them to the reality of the modern world. 

For others, ‘work’ is more akin to a perpetual artistic process that isn’t confined to a typical working day pattern and one that certainly doesn’t finish when you leave the office for the day.

Ever since I was old enough to hold a crayon, I’ve been creating things. Whether it was drawing or making sandcastles, that child-like ‘creative flow’ is, for me, incredibly freeing and inspiring.

Upon leaving university and being faced with the daunting prospect of the professional world, I focused on my proficiency for graphic design, built a portfolio and got on the job ladder relatively quickly. I progressed to the position of senior designer within a few years. 

On paper, I was doing well but I couldn’t help but feel a niggling doubt in the back of my mind, a hint of resentment at having to sacrifice my interests in other creative endeavours for the sake of my career.

So, in January 2017, I made a new year’s resolution. I promised myself I would embrace all forms of creativity without exception. For years I had put off a dream of becoming a filmmaker and so I decided to start there. 

In the nearly three years since that grey January day, I have attended a writing course at the London Film School, written over 20 screenplays, produced and directed three short films and won several international awards.

Rather than diluting my existing abilities as a designer, something I originally feared, instead I have found that my passion projects were actually proving greatly beneficial to my day job. 

Making films in my spare time forced me to step out of my comfort zone. It forced me to communicate ideas with large networks of people, to work to strict budgets, to problem solve in completely new ways and learn skills and techniques along the way. 

Back at my day job, suddenly complex briefs didn’t appear so complex anymore. New perspectives allowed new ideas to form and my ability to communicate those ideas to colleagues improved dramatically. My passion for design was back! 

Armed with my new-found creative outlook I joined Strata as design head of studio in late 2018. Since joining Strata I’ve noticed countless parallels between filmmaking and creative events. 

Complex production, tight-turnaround times, use of lighting, art direction, storytelling, message engagement, the list is endless. I have no doubt that without my work in film, I would be much less qualified and capable in my role. And vice-versa, working with some of the world’s largest brands at Strata greatly enriches and informs the work I do outside the office too. 

As I continue to progress through my career the lines between my job and passion projects continue to blur. They enrich one another while providing the balance I need to develop and find new challenges. 

This article was written by Ciaran Crudden at Strata. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of C&IT Magazine.

For more features and breaking news sign up to C&IT Magazine's daily Newstracker here.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles
and free email bulletins.

Register now
Already registered?
Sign in
APAC planners still 'use manual processes' for most of their tasks

APAC planners still 'use manual processes' for most of their tasks

Australian and New Zealander event planners need a more technology-driven approach, according to new research by Cvent.

DICE launched to improve diversity at conferences and events

DICE launched to improve diversity at conferences and events

New charter aims to eliminate 'manels' and offers guidelines for making events more diverse, on and off stage.

Are experiential food and drink incentives on the rise?

Are experiential food and drink incentives on the rise?

Planners reveal what food and drink experiences clients are increasingly requesting, in the C&IT State of the Industry: Incentives report.

World’s most popular destinations for business travel revealed

World’s most popular destinations for business travel revealed

New research draws on official government flight data to reveal locations most popular with UK business travellers going overseas in the last year.

Top agencies speak out amid warnings the coronavirus response came ‘too late’

Top agencies speak out amid warnings the coronavirus response came ‘too late’

With reports that another key congress may be cancelled, agencies explain how they have been taking stock.

Delta commits $1 billion to become first carbon-neutral airline

Delta commits $1 billion to become first carbon-neutral airline

The airline makes 10-year commitment to mitigate all emissions from March 2020.

Smyle forecasts 50% turnover growth in 2020

Smyle forecasts 50% turnover growth in 2020

Agency features on the Sunday Times International Track 200 and predicts big things for the year ahead.

Deadline extended for A-List 2020

Deadline extended for A-List 2020

We’ve extended the deadline for entering this year’s awards celebrating 35 incredible event professionals under 35.

In pictures: The Mayfair Townhouse to open September 2020

In pictures: The Mayfair Townhouse to open September 2020

Iconic Luxury Hotels' new London property will have 172 rooms, a bar, a private gym and event spaces.

Incentive review: An action-packed countryside weekend at Gleneagles

Incentive review: An action-packed countryside weekend at Gleneagles

A luxury Scottish escape with whisky tastings and outdoor activities including clay-pigeon shooting and archery.

LATEST JOBS