I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about how business and how I want my business to run. For awhile I thought I wanted to just be a children's book illustrator, but its been hard to get noticed so in the mean time I have had other projects...like greeting cards. I love making greeting cards and while trying to get into new shops I have been dappling in pattern making, colorbooks for adults, and home goods. Yes, I know, is there a category I have not been trying to get into. The truth is I see a lot of stuff on instagram of what the "it" illustrators are doing right now and I think to myself, "I should be doing that too before everyone else figures it out." The truth is, they have figured it and I am the one that is late to the game. It doesn't matter if that is a true statement or not, its how I feel all the time. I had to take a break from social media this weekend because I was getting compulsive to the point of having a break down on Friday night. Everyone I follow is amazingly talented and successful so, of course, I look at their successes and wonder why I am so far behind. Keep in mind I do not know these people personally, they have had internet presence for years, and they are all different ages and backgrounds. There is literally no reason for me to freaking out about other peoples careers. And yet, I freak out. I have been throwing myself at a bunch of things for about six or seven years and after awhile its hard to see the small successes when other people have larger ones. The fact that people I do not know have adult coloring books, textiles being made into bedding, and home decor does not mean my work is crap and not good enough. The fact that other artists have thriving illustration careers does not mean I will not, but for the moment it means I work in a coffee shop and cram in freelance around it. Its difficult to feel successful when you have worked in the service industry for ten years. I love my customers, but my feet hurt!
But really, the bug to make functional art approached me first. I signed a contract to work with a company to make home goods. It was so exciting, they wanted a lot of art, and I would get royalties, but it fell through. It was so heart breaking and I realized I had really wanted it. So the obsession really started from feeling like I was going to be in the game and then actually just getting to sit on the bench and watch the game.
All of this also comes in the heels of hearing from someone in the industry that they felt my illustrations were stiff and that I do not have an area of focus in my work. I asked for the critique, so do not feel bad for me, but I didn't agree with it at all. Usually, I get constructive crit. and I take it and use it to focus, but this crit was the opposite. It felt like I was getting a first year review in art school and it felt completely off base. The worst part was it was from an art director at a publisher I love. I understand that this is the way it works, which is why there are many art directors within a company, but still it deflated me. I really should have seen it coming. I went to a great workshop lead by a number of art directors from different kinds of publications (including the woman that gave me the crit.) and they discussed what they looked for in illustrators. It was very useful and interesting. The thing that really bothered me, however, was that they all agreed if an artist was good at drawing cats then that would be the person they went to for a job where they needed cats drawn. My heart broke when I heard that. Art directors are curators of creative people and by extension creative themselves. The linear thinking of such a statement was the opposite of creative. Its actually a creativity killer. I have heard about this way of thinking before and presumed, dumbly, that it would be snuffed out with the newer generation, but these folks were all in their 30s. After that my brain exploded and I had to cut myself off from the internet.
I am still interested in trying out pattern making and adult coloring books, but I'm not going to force anything. I think I have been killing my own creativity by thinking that the internet cares and it doesn't. I do know that I felt a lot better after taking a break and I recommend it to everyone. I posted work, but didn't look at anyones feeds and I feel like a better person for it. Forget success or failure and just try not to go crazy or kill your creativity.
These are some process drawings and then the final pattern that is up on spoonflower. I am getting a sample and will post it when it arrives. I think this will be fun.