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A Huge Leap Of Faith

There are few things as scary as a leap of faith into the unknown.

An interesting thing has happened in the last few days.

I’ve had quite a few friends suddenly ask me if I’m still working in the games industry.

For those who are reasonably new to my world, that might seem odd, but it’s true: I used to be a video game developer.

At the peak of that career, I ran my own business, speaking at conferences globally and had the pleasure of working for some incredible clients.

It was only recently that I made the leap of faith into the fine art photography world.

Cat Burton Sky Diving (A Huge Leap Of Faith)
You could say it was almost a physical leap of faith… This is me skydiving in New Zealand during my process of contemplating a career switch – a couple of years prior to actually being brave enough to do it. Somehow jumping out of a plane was much easier!

Armed with a portfolio of artworks I’d built up over the years, I decided to follow my heart and do photography full time in early 2017.

I know what you’re probably thinking.

“Why would someone with a strong career throw it all in to do something as risky as fine art photography?”

“Isn’t the market saturated?”

“Aren’t all artists starving and suffering for their art?”

“You can’t make money doing that!”

Trust me, those thoughts ran through my head many times too.

They still do occasionally.

But I let them.

I let them drive me.

I’m quite a competitive person so I’m determined to try and prove them wrong.

I might fail, of course.

But there’s a challenge in potential failure that is incredibly alluring.


The Programmer Days

I worked in the software industry from 2007 when I left university with a Computer Science degree.

Graduation day at Nottingham Trent University in 2007, with a not-particularly-artistic 1st Class BSc (Hons) in Computer Science.

Coding complex neural networks and being fascinated with artificial intelligence isn’t exactly your usual path into the arts!

After a short stint at an investment bank at Canary Wharf (suit and all!) I took a leap of faith (there’s a trend here, it seems) and quit my successful corporate job to join a risky video game startup in Battersea.

I loved it.

For a while at least…

I ended up working in that field for 9 years, at 2 companies plus my own, from 2008 to 2017.

I learned a lot and made some of my closest friends in the software industry.

Unite Europe 2012
With my colleagues and friends at Unity Technologies

I even met my fiance there (aww!).

But times change and as people, we grow.

Our passions develop and change.

What was once a hobby became a burning desire.


A Change Of Heart

Photography was taking over.

I found myself working on images and creating fine art more and more.

As a freelance software engineer, I found that most of my time was spent doing this instead of looking for games contracts.

It was all I wanted to do.

Cat Burton - Guardian Of The Forest
Copyright Cat Burton.

So, in 2017, I took my life savings, shut down my first limited company and invested in two things: a house in Scotland with my partner, and my new photography business.

It was time, once again, to take a leap of faith and follow my heart.


A Whirlwind Year

A lot has happened in the last year.

If you’d asked me in 2017 what I thought my first year as a fine art photographer would have looked like, I’d have told you something entirely different to reality.

I’m thankful to have had my work exhibited in some of the best galleries in Scotland such as the Royal Scottish Academy.

And I’m forever grateful to the collectors of my work, all over the world.

You know who you are :)

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

You see, we only get one shot at our time on this rock we call home.

I’ve always believed that we should love what we do.

Your work takes up most of your waking hours, so it’s important we enjoy it.

It takes guts, years of saving, and a lot of faith (or perhaps stupidity?) to change career in your early 30s, but it sure does make life exciting.

I’m determined to always follow my gut instinct.

I also follow my brain, which sometimes gets in the way with its logic and reason.

But together, they generally set me on the right path.

A highlight of the past year – delivering my artworks to the Royal Scottish Academy.

So to answer my friends who have been asking…

As of 2017, I don’t work in the video game industry any more.

Was it the right move? Definitely! :)

Have you made a huge leap of faith before?

Or maybe had a big career change that everyone thought was a bad idea?

Did it work out OK?

Let me know in the comments!

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