A dream, be it a 'dream career' or a 'dream holiday' in an exotic location, is something that fills each and every one of us with hope and excitement. In fact, dreams are so potent they have been the motivating force behind some of the greatest moments in our human history - after all wasn't it a dream that led a certain Martin Luther King to challenge and help dissolve the racial inequality of centuries. Dreams are powerful things.
So, it was with some disappointment that I recently learned that nearly two thirds of people in the UK give up on their dream career by the time they are the tender age of twenty years. Many of these people - one in four to be precise - stated that they gave up due to a lack of confidence, while 31% stated that they didn't feel they had the right skills.
In addition, the research published by the Arts University Bournemouth (AUB), found that I am in fact part of a small number of people (just 4.3%) who actually feel that they are working in their dream career already. As grateful as I am to be one of this lucky number, the report makes for some grim reading when considering the next generation of young people who will one day be part of the working population.
In these financially uncertain times, it is very easy for young people to put their dream careers on hold in order to pursue financial stability. There is certainly nothing wrong with this approach, however does this ultimately make us happy individuals in the long term? Living in a society like ours, there should be more support available for those individuals who want to chase their dream vocation, and are not ready to settle for the 'safe' option.
When looking back at my own career, there are many times when I might have turned my back on the artistic life in favour of financial stability. Starting out in the creative industry is tough to say the least. However by holding true to a dream of one day becoming a successful artist, I've gone from selling my early work on Ebay for a few pounds, to having my own exhibitions in some of the world's most prestigious galleries.
Some cynics may say that it's all well and good for me to evangelise upon the power of dreams after carving out a successful career for myself. However, what are any of us without hopes and dreams? I would still be an artist even if I hadn't had my successes because dreams to me are indestructible; they are the very quintessence of who we are. Being able to live my life creatively and express myself is invaluable to me, in fact some of the projects I've completed lately I would have gladly paid money to do.
I believe that society and its many institutions should be doing much more to encourage young people to follow their dreams - helping them to avoid a future of missed opportunity and regret. The creative industries are a massive contributing factor to our economy and across all those fields we desperately need new dreamers.
With this in mind I followed up with the AUB about their research, and I've been given the opportunity to put my theories into practice by becoming a judge for the University's Who Are You? competition for creative 14-19 year olds. I'll be sitting on the judging panel alongside other creative industry luminaries, to help decide which young entrants will have their artwork supersized on to billboards across the country. All the entrants have to do is tell us who they are by using their creative skills.
I fully believe that through projects like the Who Are You? competition, we can support more young people in realising what it is they truly want to do in life. By encouraging them to express themselves and giving them the opportunity to explore what it is that really motivates them, we can put them well on the road to discovering and achieving their dream career.
I'm hoping the project will give exposure to some brilliant new talent and show a new generation what is possible if you put your mind to it.
For more details on the Who Are You? competition, visit the Arts University Bournemouth's facebook page: www.facebook.com/inspiredAUB or visit the website www.aub.ac.uk/whoareyou2