Finding my motivation again

I have a confession to make.

I haven’t been making all that much art lately.

In January I made an unspoken (even to myself) resolution that I would draw every day. I’ve always, ALWAYS wanted to be an artist, but from a very young age never thought it was possible. And I mean young. While other eight year olds still held onto their dreams of being astronauts or fire chiefs or artists, I quickly discarded my dream of being an artist and moved on to my much more realistic, more practical dream of being… an engineer. And like many of us, I started making websites when I was 12, and loved the act of creating and making pixel art and beautiful graphics so much that I went to college and majored in… computer science!

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Cute animal break! Here’s my adorable albino hedgehog, Mabel!

So yeah, not very good at actually embracing that artistic side. I think many of us wash out because of society’s expectations of us, and as women it’s hard to push past the idea that you’re supposed to be creative but only in “crafts”, never in the arts or corporate world (trust me, the art and design worlds are just as sexist as everywhere else), and also battling with impostor syndrome, and also I’ve just come to the realization that artists and designers are all just VERY good at pretending like they are perfectly creative and fine and nothing is wrong.

And I re-started this blog so I could provide a new and different perspective for people who are struggling with their creativity and how to make it work. So I’m going to tell you what’s going on with me even if it’s not the happiest (not sad, either! it just is).

So yeah, I haven’t been making all that much art. I’ve done a few big paintings and work for a gallery show that’s going on right now, that I want to share very soon. And I’ve been freelance designing. But I haven’t been drawing every day. And my new job isn’t a design job, it’s a day job to enable my art and design.

And I think it’s so important to talk about that, because I’m struggling with it too. I think there are problems with the tech industry that nobody’s talking about in terms of generalizing and specializing and switching careers and all sorts of junk, but I won’t talk about that right now. What I want to talk about is that I’ve been beating myself up for a long time for having a day job instead of quitting my job and devoting my life to my art.

See, everyone I know who is An Artist with a capital A or A Designer does it for a living. And everyone I read about does it for a living too. There’s an unspoken implication that if you don’t do it for a living, you’re not a Real Artist or Real Designer or Real Writer or Real Web Developer or whatever else. The implication is that if you’re not doing it for a living, you’re clearly not good enough. I thought I was past that mentality and yet I’m realizing I’m just not. I still wake up in a cold sweat thinking that I’m almost 30 and still not a designer or artist, and time is running out for me.

In between all these pep talks and “you can be anything if you just dream it!” and “everyone is creative!”, nobody’s talking about the fact that there ARE creative gatekeepers and there ARE people who shut you down and it DOES affect you, no matter how much you wish it wouldn’t. And I’m going to tell you, through my own insecurities and doubts, that you’re not crazy, it does happen, it makes you feel like crap and want to give up, but the world still needs what you have anyway. I’ve seen how incredibly talented and amazing everyone is who has commented on this blog – every single one of you. And maybe you’re more confident than me and don’t need a pep talk! But here’s one anyway.

So yeah, I’m re-finding my motivation, and putting energy into blogging and doing stuff on the side and my art and making this all work, while having a day job, instead of spending all my time and energy beating myself up over the fact that I don’t have “design” or “art” or “creative” in my job title.

I want to hear from you guys – do you ever have these kinds of doubts about your creativity? Have you pushed through it? Let’s have a conversation!

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Let’s do something fun today

So remember how I said I’d be posting like crazy! Following my creative process! Okay, well, last week I created 4 (that’s FOUR) new pieces – one painting and three shadowboxes. I also iterated through 20 logo designs for a friend and designed a poster/flyer for my NEW JOB. So this morning I woke up early, watched the sunset, and sat around doing nothing – no screens, just me and my coffee and my cats. It was really nice, I have to say.

Anyway pretty soon I will make a post about all of this, but for now, let’s do something fun! Let’s find out what Enneagram we are!

Take the test here and choose the Classical Enneagram Test (the one on top). Then comment with what number you got! You can read better summaries of the numbers at the Enneagram Institute. The thing I like about it is that it tells you how you act in times of stress and in health.

I’m a Four with a Five wing, which is labeled as the “Bohemian.” Fours are concerned with self-discovery and identity, and often feel huge emotions and self-blame. They feel like there is something missing from them that everyone else has, and they’d be happy if only they could find that thing. Though obviously these tests have a fair amount of confirmation bias, I’m enjoying reading about it, because it fits me to an uncanny T.

So what number are you? Let’s do something fun today and find out!

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So busy lately!

Hey remember when I said I was going to use my lack of job as an opportunity to blog more? Wellll that didn’t happen because I had a week off where I impulse decided to foster an extremely cute puppy, and then immediately started a new job! I don’t really know how to relax, but I’m also frustrated with myself because I’m supposed to be taking this time to work on my art!

Here is some of the work I’ve been up to lately!

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I’m planning a Halloween party! I designed and illustrated this super cute invitation for it, and Rob wrote the beautiful poem. Anyone want to come??

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I FINALLY finished my painting, to enter a few shows. I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out! It’s so funny how I basically got to the “almost finished” part and then promptly stopped for weeks, and then when I went to finish it, it took only about two hours. Gah! I should just finish things more quickly. It’s funny how we psych ourselves out.

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Finally, I’m working hard on helping out my friend with another popup art mall. This one is going to be big, and it’s going to be excellent. I can’t wait, honestly. Instead of just having stickers in this one, I’ll have my whole space, so I’m starting to plan out my stock – I’ll make a post on this later on when it’s closer, but so far I have prints, tote bags, notebooks, postcards, stickers, original art, and painted jackets planned!

What are you working on lately? How are things going? What are you most looking forward to?

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Today is a quiet day

I don’t know how to say much about today, just that yesterday my company announced I’m quitting my job.

It was a long and hard decision, not one made lightly. I’ve been at my current gig for almost a year and a half, and I realized that I need to branch out to improve my design skills. I hit my point there where I realized that although I’d still be able to learn, my learning has already slowed down, as I’m working on the same product day in and day out. I can’t slow down, though – I need to accelerate my skills, and move faster!

It wasn’t easy to make this decision, and it’s not easy to quit a job not knowing what’s next. But I have plans – big plans. I’ll be doing some freelance work, some personal design challenges, and sharing what I learn here on this blog.

For now, though, today I will mourn the job that taught me so much and I loved so much – I will miss everyone there and my last day will be sad!

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Tour of my studio – Part 2

Last time I showed you my primary workspace. Now time to show you the rest of the studio!

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So, standing at my floor desk, if you turn around, you see this! In the far left bottom you can see my RADIO (as you remember, I LOVE radio and listen to it nearly every day). It’s on the floor so I can reach it easily while… sitting on the floor. Also my dress form, which has been invaluable (I make or thrift-and-alter most of my clothes these days). Then, my TV and SNES. Don’t judge – you wish you had that setup too. Nintendo used to make absurdly long cords, so the controllers reach nicely to the floor table and chairs (though not all the way to the window seat, darn it). I also keep a raspberry pi up there as a media machine for movies and TV shows.

Then, my printer, scanner, cheapy laser printer for printing out plane/train boarding passes and e-tickets, and storage – tons of storage! Namely, it’s all my paper and crafting supplies, mostly for bookbinding, which I love and do to relax. I also dabble in a ton of other stuff like crocheting, origami, and of course printing out my art. So lots of paper! Don’t worry though, half these bins are for Rob’s storage for his projects – his photograpy and his electronics projects with old cheapy phones, raspberry pis, and a billion different cables.

Oh, and my primary means of transportation. I ride my bike almost every day – it’s what I use to pick up supplies, get to and from work, run errands, and meet friends.

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My shelves are just to the left of this, behind where I sit at the floor table. I keep all my frequently accessed art supplies here – left to right on the top shelf, my sewing box, some junk, all my spare/filled sketchbooks and my “how to draw” books (and my collection of Hi Fructose magazine). On the bottom shelf left to right, all my water-based paints and mini canvases (and 3 mini-paintings in front), pens/pencils/markers/paintbrushes, bookbinding supplies, a jar of water and painter’s tape, snacks, books, a box of jewelry making stuff I got off Alibaba for ridiculously cheap and at some point I need to resell them because they’re not what I expected, and my acrylic case full of tiny things like erasers, lead, stamps and with some copics and microns on top.

Whew! Basically, tons of art supplies. It seems like a TON, but this is YEARS of collecting and getting a ton of stuff as gifts! Every year for birthday/Christmas, my family always gets me some art supplies. So I filled up very quickly! Outside of gifts, I don’t allow myself to purchase new art supplies unless I use up something first. So, filling up a notebook lets me pick out a new notebook or a set of markers of similar price. But I can’t just go out and buy new markers because I feel like it. It works out pretty well.

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To the left of the shelves is the window seat and my easel, also on the floor! You can see my almost-finished painting here. I haven’t had time to work on it with all the relatives visiting and all the travel. You can see a ton of finished paintings here and a pack of unused canvases. Also my giant art board – it was required for an art class I took in college, and it’s come in handy for large paper pieces. Ughhh, it’s a mess in this corner – I need to figure out a better solution!

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And, of course, my other helper! Sorry about the blurry photo, she’s squirmy and always hard to get a photo of! Kiki is our lap cat. She actually hates the studio and rarely hangs out in it, but will happily keep you company anywhere else!

So that’s it – that’s where I do 100% of my side art/design work and about 20% of my full-time job! Lots of time spent in here for sure. I’m so grateful to have such a big, bright (and it was super gloomy/rainy when I took these photos), and spacious room that is exactly to my liking to do my work in!

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