Look before you leap. But leap!
From scientist to artist, Bushra Burge shows us there are no limits to your possibilities.
Bushra Burge is a phenomenal woman.
She graduated from Imperial College, London, with a degree in Biochemistry and Management.
Worked on databases for the Y2K scare in finance, investment banks and insurance.
Ask her what she’s is up to these days and she’ll take you places you’d never expect. She teaches participatory design at the RCA – a radical design approach where the end users are brought in right from the start. She’s creating AR experiences for festivals and local streets and applying for a grant to research the human and social effects of living in biospheres on Mars.
Not bad for a woman who started as a database engineer.
Who’d never even considered a creative career.
Who didn’t think there was a place for someone like her.
But her curiosity was piqued by innovation. The coder was a secret creative.
So Bushra began to create. From magic, to art, to the London College of Fashion.
Her illustrations were small. But her ideas were big. As was where they took her.
A 180 from technical jobs at large corps to a career in sustainable fashion.
A degree in Applied Imagination.
And with hours spent daydreaming as a child, the way she applied that imagination was wild.
An interactive social benefit project with music a trigger for memory.
An exploration of VR headsets and touch.
Sensory wearables that challenged perception.
“Data’s collected to sell us advertising. But it could be used to reunite us with our sense of self.”
Bushra’s not afraid to take risks. It’s boredom that fills her with fear.
An artistic ingenuity that makes connections. A vivid cognition that visualises patterns.
Bushra’s also a part-time special constable. Bushra was born to kick butt.
Bushra loves to draw, a meditative process in which she’s fully present but also lost in the moment. And it’s being lost in the moment that leads to ideas.
She finds where that idea sits. And then she digs deep for the ‘how’.
Studies the pioneers. Immerses herself in the industry. Learns the tools of the trade. Experiments.
Like us all, she has struggled internally. A creative from a science background where there’d always been right or wrong answers.
“It took a while for me to understand how to bear my creativity, be vulnerable and fight for it. Sometimes I’ve had to compromise my vision.” For Bushra, at times it is hard. “But to quote Maya Angelou, ‘. . . Still I rise’.”
There’s a lot we can learn from this woman. She threw conventional out the window.
Put two things together that to most people shouldn’t be. And it worked. Convention is only a guide.
Following your bliss is a valid way to earn a living. Mix it up. You’ve got nothing to lose.
Have fun. Take risks. Never stop learning.
Sure, look before you leap. But leap.
Go back to university. Start a class. Learn a new skill. Find people who share your passion.
Like our troubles, risks shared are risks halved.
Some of the most sustainable small businesses were built on doing what you love.
COVID has set women back. But it hasn’t stood us still. And it sure as hell hasn’t stopped us daydreaming.
“Sometimes we dismiss ideas because we think they’re too foolish, or because we’re afraid because no one has ever done it before. Before you throw [those] ideas out, take a long hard look at them. There just might be a business in that thing you love that you think is weird.”
At midlife our minds are fired up. Run with that fire. It might sound a risky idea.
But, as Bushra would say, “It sets expectations.”