Living to Work, Working to Live

CityBeat says 'goodbye' and 'good luck' to a longtime department head, Art Director Sean Hughes. He joined the paper just a few months after our founding in 1994, fresh out of grad school, and quickly took control of the paper's design and production flo

Jan 7, 2009 at 2:06 pm

We go to work for lots of different reasons. Mostly we want and/or need money, though not everyone takes the highest-paying job available.

If it were only about money, we’d all be hedge fund managers or CEOs of Fortune 500 corporations. No one would stay home with the kids or work in the arts or teach school.

Many of us seek a job that matches our personal interests or backgrounds, though that’s often a bonus instead of the primary reason for our career choice. As one of my first bosses told me, if jobs were meant to be fun they wouldn’t call it “work.”

If it were only about having fun, we’d all be professional athletes and fashion designers.

Some of us train for years to hone a specific skill, often something we had a natural inclination for when we were young. A few of us find jobs that we think make a difference in the larger world, help others and provide meaning to our own lives.

So it’s kind of complicated trying to explain why we work where we do — more complicated than we usually want to believe. We like to think we were destined to be in the career we’ve chosen, that all four plates (money, fun, skill and meaning) have met at the perfect intersection in our life.

But the reality is the plates move independently, and rarely do all four come together at the same time and place. Sometimes we sacrifice money for meaning or fun for money. We make those kinds of decisions all the time.

I bring this up now for two reasons. One, it’s the start of a new year, when all things are possible again. Let’s hope that 2009 is the year we better align the moving plates in our work and home lives.

Secondly, CityBeat says “goodbye” and “good luck” to a longtime department head, Art Director Sean Hughes. He’s one of the few people I know who juggles all the career aspects well and gets the most out of each area.

Sean joined CityBeat just a few months after our founding in 1994, fresh out of grad school, and quickly took control of the paper’s design and production flow. It’s not a stretch to say that his calm demeanor in the center of the weekly hurricane blown up by editorial and ad sales was the rock on which CityBeat was built.

Sean knew the right balance between creativity and practicality, he gave CityBeat a distinctive look, he was fun to be around and he hired great people (and helped recruit his replacement). Above all, he believed in our mission to change Cincinnati and the world and did whatever he could to make a difference.

He leaves us for a newly created professorship in UC’s journalism program, where he’ll train the next generation of designers and photographers and send the best ones to CityBeat as interns. He’ll remain connected to this organization, but we’ll miss seeing him every day.

I know he’ll continue to do great work.

CONTACT JOHN FOX: [email protected]