What Would You Do With an Extra Week of Vacation and $1,500?

Designer Andrew Smith will seek creative inspiration in the Northeast

What would you do if you had an extra week of vacation and $1,500 spending money? It’s a question Brighton CEO, Tina VonderHaar, poses twice a year. The agency’s executive leadership team reviews the resulting essays and selects the winner of the bi-annual Brighton sabbatical.

“If I had a full week and $1,500, I’d have a fighting chance to energize my creative drive and tell my conscience to go f$%k itself, all to become a better Brightonian,” wrote designer Andrew Smith this fall. “More specifically, I’d invest a portion of the money in supplies to advance my watercolor painting hobby while spending the remainder traveling to New Hampshire for a much-needed recharge and to find inspiration for a new watercolor painting series, since practicing my hobby is part of my retirement plan.”

As a member of the agency’s creative team, it’s not surprising that art has always been important to Andrew.

“At a young age, my parents introduced me to a family friend who is a very well-known watercolor artist,” he recalls. “This artist taught me about materials and processes that ultimately formed the foundation for my love of that medium – and investing in equipment and materials provides a level up. It offers a chance to experiment and learn in ways I haven’t already, like plein air painting. Some equipment can be considered a luxury, but every artist needs adequate desk space, storage, quality brushes and other supplies.”

And what can we expect on the flip side of Andrew’s sabbatical?

“Once I’m back, my improved self will be a better Brightonian,” he promises. “I won’t be nearly as exhausted, and perhaps some of my guilt (from being a parent who spends long hours working) will have dissipated. I’ll have new experiences and perspectives that I can leverage for client work. Heck, maybe the adventure will inspire some of my colleagues – because the way I see it, by improving myself, everyone around me will also benefit.”

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