I'm going to try something new and get a little personal in this blog. I've been struggling lately with feeling like I'm in a creative rut. I'm pretty sure that this extremely long and cold winter has something to do with it, but I've turned a little grumpy and negative. I'm overdue for sunshine and inspiration for sure.
A major thing to blame I think is that I often let my work and personal life intertwine, which I know I should be better at, but it's really hard sometimes because my work is basically the biggest thing in my life now. Especially since I work for myself, doing freelance work and managing my stationery products on Etsy. I love everything about those things, and I feel like I really put my heart into them. But every so often, I start to doubt myself, my path, my abilities. It puts a damper on everything and I definitely let it get me down. I also have a serious issue with comparing myself to those around me. Particularly on Facebook. You probably know how that goes. You see your newsfeed full of baby pictures, wedding photos, big promotions, announcements about fancy houses recently purchased, and blah blah blah. Now don't get me wrong, those are all fantastic things that I want someday, and I'm actually very content with not having them right now, but it's very easy for me to feel a little behind in the game. My journey is a little different I guess, but I've chosen it to be that way, and sometimes I doubt that choice.
There are definitely moments where I feel very inspired and thankful that I'm going down this path, like hearing some good reviews from customers who have bought my cards on Etsy, or talking with people at craft fairs, or even seeing my design work in "real life" (like when it's finally printed and out in the world or on a finished website that other people will see). I feel so alive when I make things with my hands that turn into something that brings happiness to other people. Then, there are plenty of times when I'm totally ready to throw in the towel and settle down with a more "normal" 9-5 job. I've actually been trying to do that over the last few months. See, I also live at home with my mom. There were a lot of reasons why I moved home two years ago after grad school. Mostly it was because I had no idea what to do next after leaving Germany, but there were a lot of other personal, family reasons too. And then, freelance work and my Etsy shop grew into something I've been doing full-time since then. It's work, but it's one of those things that barely feels like work. I'd be happy doing this every single day, forever actually.
My goal is to grow with hand drawn lettering and illustration, to get more projects that would let me use those, and to expand my stationery line into more products and into more shops. In a wildest dream, I'd be represented by an illustration agency. Oh and also live someplace sunnier :) It's a goal I can see so clearly and dream about so easily. As of right now in my life, I'm positive about wanting that fully. The tricky part that messes things up for me is that it's still in the future. I think I work very, very hard, and yet it's still looking far away from where I am. On one hand, I could be a little less whiny because I've only been doing this for two years, which in the big picture is maybe not much time at all. But there is also a part of me that's afraid I'll never reach that goal, and perhaps I'm just wasting time. It's also my goal to make a living off of above said dream, and so far it's quite difficult to do that. Which is why I still live at home.
Anyways, back to what I mentioned before, I have been applying to some "normal" jobs. It would be pretty damn amazing to have the stability of a 9-5 schedule, in addition to an adult paycheck and health benefits. I don't want to undermine how valuable those things are, but I often feel myself wanting it mainly when I'm discouraged or ashamed at the lack of "adult" things I have compared to the rest of my peers.
So since I have been applying to more normal "design" jobs, I haven't heard much back other than that my info will be saved for future openings or freelance projects. It's primarily because this area is quite limited with creative opportunities, but it's still pretty disheartening. I do want stability and little more financial freedom, but I am still in love with my work. It's a torn feeling that makes for some good days and some tough days trying to figure out that perfect balance.
Back to the main point of this post... I am actively attempting to get out of this rut. I'm taking a chance and investing in an e-course by Lilla Rogers, who runs one of the best illustration agencies in the industry. I found out about the agency when I discovered that an illustrator I really admire is represented by them, but blew off the idea of even dreaming of getting represented someday. After feeling very down and discouraged lately, I decided rather quickly that this e-course could be something to make a big change in my happiness and in my work. Maybe it will end up being very influential towards my goals. At the least, I already feel like it's refreshed my motivation.
The course, which starts this coming Monday, will be 5 weeks filled to the brim with advice and information on getting represented and licensing my work. It's also going to be 5 weeks of intense illustration assignments. I want to be inspired and pushed outside of my comfort zone. I want to refresh my creativity and wake up those sleepy little dreams that have got to still be inside me somewhere. I plan on writing each week on this blog to keep track of my feelings and my work to share with anybody else interested in a similar path or experiencing similar ups and downs like I have. I'm really looking forward to seeing how much things can change in these 5 weeks.