“Try to be better than yourself”

why competion is good, but skipping burnouts is better - with Julia Kerguelen

Julia kuergelen art designer burnout

I met Julia as she was visiting my apartment in Los Angeles, a while ago.

She was working as an Art Director in events and a VFX producer in advertising in Paris and had come to LA for a few months to test the water.

She wanted to move out of France and though it could be a good fit. In other words, another french female landed in California, in the creative field! Not that common.

She had had her turning point at 15 years old, back to when she was a Modern Jazz dancer; and a double cervical sprain, caused by a Physiologist who did a bad spine manipulation, crushed her dream of becoming a professional dancer.

She had then become a professional actress and after a few years of performing and multiplying part-time jobs, she decided to move to Paris and found a Graphic art school to attend classes at.

Before getting there she had to know perfectly the softwares, so she worked like crazy with books and finally passed the test.

Quickly she became an art director for events bigger and bigger till she worked with very famous brands such as Renault, Michelin, Coca-Cola or Armani with global budgets up till 10M€.

« I used to work so much that my health was in the background and I disconnected my body from my brain, my essential needs (eating proper meals, sleeping enough, sustaining a social life, etc) were my slightest preoccupation.

Each time I finished a project, I was really sick like my body had to make me stop for real.

Then one day, seeing my health going down as well as my colleagues', I thought it wasn’t fun anymore and finally decided to stop burning the candle at both ends.

Looking back, my vision of success has completely changed since.

I’m still someone who loves to set the bar high for myself. I’ve won several awards and competitions (Top Com d’Or, Heavent award...). I want to be the best at what I do, whether that’s creating a new event concept or adding that one last sparkle on a client’s TV commercial.

I don’t put all my energy in one bucket. I learn different expertises to create my own unique blend.

But the noticeable difference now is that I set up time to breathe.

I might work 90 hours a week at times, but I make sure to meditate, to have a healthy diet, to work out, to read books or spend time in nature doing things that I love.

And if I can’t spend any quality time with myself, I'd listen to binaural beats at work and book a retreat far away to unwind and recenter, as a treat!

My physical and mental health come first, and that reverberates in my work.

My personal mantra is « do it fully or not at all » and I would add « but remember that you come first »  because if you don’t commit and work towards what you want, no one else will do it for you and it’s a waste of time and energy.

The vision I want to share is to do what you love, take your chance no matter what you want to achieve everything you need is already within you.

At some point, I lost track of who I was and I want to use my story to encourage younger generation to follow their dreams and work hard for themselves, without compromising their soul and health.



Hélène Clabecq