Am I a great artist? Not on your life! The biggest compliment I’ve ever received on something art related is that I am a champ at pictionary! You need a slap-dash drawing of some recognizable object in 30 seconds? Well I’m your gal!
The personal struggle I’ve always had is that I love being a creative and I want to turn it into a business. Artist and writer is my dream job. Alas I wasn’t amazing at writing, drawing, or painting (or dancing). So am I doomed to live my life stuck at some regular job FOREVER with no other options?
Nope! I eventually did decide to go to art school (online) 8 years after high school. That turned out to be one of the most challenging and enjoyable experiences in my life. I went to the Art Institute in Pittsburgh and, while they have gotten some crazy negative publicity, I loved it.
I don’t love all my school loans but I do love that because I went for Web Design and Interactive Media it gave me the confidence to get my Bachelors in Computer Science. I would have never had the drive or the confidence to pursue a technical degree before going to Art School. My inspiration drove me to learn so much more about technology than I ever thought I could absorb.
Did I have amazing tech when I went back to school? Well I did buy a good laptop but I didn’t get my amazing camera until much later. I choose to overpay on my taxes throughout the year and live like a pauper so I can get at least one new piece of tech per year.
It’s wonderful to have great gear, but try to get the most out of what you do have and appreciate it. Having appreciation for your things will inspire you to use them to the fullest. You won’t get very far in your growth if you are hating on your own equipment and not using it. Something magic happens when people see you enjoying the things you love. Plus you can take great pictures with a good smart phone now, which I do way more often than I use my fancy camera!
Joy is contagious and people will find ways of their own to support you. Using your equipment to the fullest may just magically win you some better equipment, or more likely will help you to use what you have in order to get that better and coveted equipment.
If you have no equipment look to borrow, rent, or buy used. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cleaned people’s houses just to earn a little income and I don’t even like to clean my own house. I’m also known to sell off some things I don’t use in order to get something I’m really excited about.
Classes, Self-Study, and Traditional Education
In school I had quick courses in photography, videography, illustration, graphic design, sound design, animation and more! While I think many people can take classes locally or learn from books and websites, which I do all the time now, at that moment I needed a push to get started. So I pushed myself into taking classes so I’d be forced to start sooner rather than later, and they would provide me with a good starting place.
I’m not telling you to go to school or take classes. I’m not even telling you I am a great artist after all that education! I’m just saying if you have a drive to do something just keep thinking about ways you can get around your limitations, and think about signing up for something. It won’t necessarily keep you going but it will get you going!
If you do like reading there are so many creative business books, or just books on creativity if that’s your jam and you don’t want to turn your creative endeavors into a business. Don’t forget about your public library as a resource for learning everything you can about the things you love to do!
I actually graduated from school and did nothing with that degree besides funny and sometimes thoughtful posts on facebook for years! If it was really my passion how did I stall out for that long?
Well I graduated from school, and found a low paying flexible job after bombing my face off in interviews. I was just honest and told the jobs it was the creative element that drove me to aspire to more. If they stuck me at a computer and expected me to write code for math equations all day I would lose my mind. I didn’t say it in those exact words but it’s good I was honest because I think that was exactly what they were looking for. Needless to say they didn’t hire me.
Then I lost my portfolio, my tech was outdated, I didn’t have access to my fancy software and I just felt like I couldn’t make the leap from where I was to where I wanted to be.
Well while I was working my low paying repetitive job I would listen to personal development podcasts, everyone does this right?! Well that was how I learned the game had changed! There was all kinds of free software for graphic design and so much more!
I don’t have much time for educational reading these days. Podcasts and audiobooks have been a life saver and a super fun way to stay informed about my interests. I would have never known I could use free software to move towards my goals if I wasn’t actively seeking educational content in my chosen field.
I decided I was gonna bootstrap myself a business whether it took me until retirement age or not! Plus I figured making a website would be a great portfolio piece because no amazing creative job was hiring me without one. This book (or audiobook) by Marie Forleo is great if you are looking for inspiration on growing a business.
So did I immediately build that website? Heck no! I waited until the one social media job opportunity I have seen since I graduated fell in my lap. I went through 2 interviews and did I get the job?! Nope, but I did leave that experience having made a working website! Was I instantly successful? Nope, I’m still hashing it out.
The thing is that when I am working towards my goals I feel happy and inspired whether everyone is patting me on the back or not. If I focus on what makes me feel good on my path it’s easier to get through the hard stuff. It has been one crazy road of moving forward, breaking down on the side of the road, sometimes going crazy fast with lots of spectators, and having to make U-turns at unexpected times.
That is why this design I made in school was speaking to me yet again. So many times I could have given up and I did place my goals on the backburner often. The road looked impossible again and again.
I have school experience but no one hires without professional experience? How do you get experience if no one will hire you? All of the jobs around here seem to be development jobs and not much is creative, can I work commuting into my life? How much time would I have to give to travel to and from a job? Would I lose said job for being unable to commute when the weather is bad? How would I volunteer for a job to get experience when I have to work full time to support my family? Is it right to give up on the time I spend with my family to work towards professional goals?
Not only do I have responsibilities to my immediate family, I feel responsible to help with other disabled family members. How do I navigate this? Why isn’t there more time in the day? Can I sacrifice sleep for a few years without hurting my health and relationships? Would I even have the confidence in my abilities to volunteer for a job in my chosen field? Could I keep promises to an organization with all of those other responsibilities I have?
I felt like a professional failure but I also listened to my nice inner voice, which I call my good angel, when it said I was doing the best I could and taking care of myself and my family.
If you don’t have a good angel you should work to create one. It’s the voice of a supportive best friend and it’s the antidote to that nasty critical inner voice that just tears you down and breaks your spirit.
Every time you hear that nasty voice, practice being the good angel. It’s ironic how the little devil voice is automatic and the good angel voice seems to take practice but THIS IS WORTH YOUR EFFORT. The good angel voice will help you to get off your own back and move forward instead of staying stuck in a bad place. I urge you to try it before you let that little devil on your other shoulder talk you out of it!!
Every single time I felt that nudge to be creative again I would bravely nurture it instead of letting past “failures” talk me out of trying. I couldn’t live in a world without the hope of something better. I just kept looking for ways to open doors to where I felt I was supposed to be. It has been a strange journey with moments of elation and true disappointment. I’ve always just rode the emotion of that wave knowing that nothing lasts forever.
When times are good ride that momentum with everything you have, and when times are bad count your blessings even if they are few and far between. Finding something to be grateful for keeps joy and hope alive and allows you to walk paths that seemed impossible when you were in a bad state of mind. Some of the blessings I count are heat in the winter, shoes on my feet, food in my belly, the breath in my lungs, and having a loving family.
If you have breath in your lungs you have the ability to do something different with your day and strive to meet new goals. It’s not easy to re-make yourself and change your life but it is possible to hold your goal high and find your way there one step at a time. You have what it takes to follow that spark inside.
How Did That Old Design Inspire this Post?
I don’t 100% love my artwork ever but I do tend to share anyway because no project is perfect and you never know what you will learn or what joy you will get from sharing! I shared this on facebook back while still in school and it came up in my FB memories.
I didn’t remember this part but I had worked on a perspective project before this one and my computer must have crashed and I lost it. As I still had an assignment due I started over and was obviously in a much darker mood. It’s not a perfect design but it’s original, I accomplished it in a shorter period of time then I was used to, and I felt good about turning in something instead of having given up.
When I saw my old design I figured it was the perfect time to share it because what has been weirder then world events lately?! I feel like we are all a little unsure about how to function and a lot of us are again trying to figure out what path to take.
I put my “Strange Road” design on some products and I am hoping that some will connect with it, and this post about having faith in your inspiration and following that creative spark. You don’t need to upturn your life to take a step towards your goals and if you believe that I suggest looking at other possible options to move toward your dreams that will work for the life you have now.
I have always found solutions somewhere between research, observation, and consideration. I learn all I can about the things I want, I observe the issues I see holding me back, and then I consider ways to conquer my issues without sacrificing other priorities. It’s a tall order but I have faith that if a screw-up like me can figure it out, you can too!
This link (or the picture above) will lead you to my Strange Road Hoodie on Amazon if you’d like a reminder to “Have faith for the strange road ahead”. If you’d like to learn more about adding your own designs to Amazon merch I tell all about it in this blog post.
Finding Creativity that was Buried Long Ago
Did I ever feel this fear when I was trying to step back into being creative after a long long long time of focusing on everything else. You just have to take baby steps back into it, or leap if that feels right to you. I went to some paint nights, crocheted some bad projects, sewed some ugly pants, and asked my daughter to use her school painting as our 1st “print on demand” design.
It felt so overwhelming to try and take a design from ground zero to uploading it to merchandise. As you can see my Strange Road design is only our 2nd publicly shared design. So to get started and make a momentous task seem smaller I asked for my daughter’s help and used one of my old designs. I do have a few new designs in development but there are a lot of things on my plate and completing everything on my to do list is a challenge!
If you relate to this I suggest finding ways to make the creation process not seem as overwhelming. I knew I wanted to take family designs and put them on merchandise but I was stalled for months not knowing what I wanted the first design to be. I left that goal unfinished but it was still bumping around in the back of my mind.
When I saw my daughter’s tree painting I knew it would be perfect and so I asked for her permission. She was super excited which helped motivate me a lot. I love doing projects with friends and family which runs contrary to all popular advice.
If you want to learn more about selling designs on Zazzle check out this blog post by yours truly.
If you don’t have children’s art projects or old designs to work with, my advice is to find some type of art class or prompt. I loved having art assignments in school and just playing within the requirements to see what designs came forth.
This is especially helpful when you are being pulled in a specific direction but don’t know where to start. I highly recommend looking for regularly scheduled prompts and giving yourself a deadline to complete them. Make it even more fun and do this with a friend, you know what they say about accountability! Plus it’s easier to not take everything too seriously if you are having fun!
Another thing I do is to leave projects, and my drawing tablet by my chair in the family room. I tend to keep my hands busy while we watch TV in the evening. I save the tasks that require more brain power for quiet mornings but a lot of tasks can be done on autopilot and shouldn’t stop you from enjoying evening programming with your family. There are a lot of knitters and crochet-ers in the family so this seems normal to us. Plus making it easy to work on your goals will speed up the process significantly.
How to Protect Yourself & Your Creativity from all the Noise
So if you are forging your own path or looking to inspire someone my strange black and white graphic design is for you. This perspective design with creepy “viewers” will remind you to be brave and strive for that goal in the distance!
Whether it’s inner or outer voices I think we all can put a lot of pressure on ourselves and impose unrealistic goals and make ourselves very uncomfortable. I’m not exactly sure how to silence all the voices that tear us down but it does help to have a reminder to “hear” the constructive and tell the destructive voices to take a hike!
Building a creative business is my end goal but it’s not my only priority. I’m super thankful that I have other important things to focus on in life because it reminds me to pace myself and appreciate the journey. Especially when things don’t go as planned, it helps to remember you can try, try again!
I do art with my kids and family pretty regularly so I have built in motivation to create things but it comes with a lot of distraction too. Because of this I make sure to hold my end goals in mind like a gleaming gem in the distance.
But I’m Such a Mess!
Honey, we are all a mess! Some people just hide it better and I’m not sure there is a ton of value in looking like you have it all together if you are breaking inside. I choose the “I try hard and do my best, while my life is such a mess” method.
I may be “all over the place” but I do my best to make sure I’m getting incrementally closer to my end destination. I know, it’s hard to be patient but those who skip the hard work, often don’t find enjoyment in achieving their goals. This book (and amazing audiobook) by Elizabeth Gilbert shares a lot of wisdom about finding your spark and keeping it alive!
Have I achieved a lot of my goals? Well I made it through school and found a way to keep my creativity alive, while holding a day job, caring for my kids, and sick and disabled loved-ones. Honestly I’m living my dream life minus financial stability and travel opportunities but I can work towards that.
I believe that producing messy and imperfect work lets you stretch your muscles and find your voice. Don’t let “being bad” at something you love stop you from working at it. You can at the very least still head in the direction you wish to go.
I had to solve a lot of issues before I got to a place where I feel like I am going in the right direction. No worries if you are a hot mess, you can be a hot mess and still accomplish big goals! It takes time to figure out what you want to be and put all that together in a pretty little package with a bow on top. I’m not sure I’ll ever be “bow” material but I kind of like being the wild child so I don’t have much incentive to change that.
I always learn everything I can but then always listen to my inner compass. If advice doesn’t feel right for you, you can choose to do it your way! At the end of the day you are the one who has to live with your choices so don’t strive so hard for those goals that it destroys your inner peace.
Well I hope very much that this post gave you some tips to help you jump some hurdles that have been blocking your way. If you have questions about anything feel free to reach out. As much as I try to answer everything in the blog posts I know I miss things. Thanks so much for reading as always!
Best of luck to you and yours and I hope that you are keeping creative and having fun! Oh and if you have something that helps keep those nasty inner voices at bay, please share it in the comments!
Thanks for visiting today!
Oh and if you want a dark colored hoodie it’s here on Amazon and if you want a light colored hoodie…
The light colored hoodies are on Zazzle and you can put the design on a bunch of other products too!
Support is Appreciated but Not Expected 🙂
If you don’t need another hoodie or coffee cup and you’d like to support the blogging/artist effort, every little bit helps! If you can’t contribute, no worries! I am thankful and appreciate all my readers 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by!