Nevertheless, she persisted.
I woke up today and immediately found myself reflecting on my artistic accomplishments over the past few years. Why these thoughts were running through my brain so early in the morning I don’t know, but I am so thankful for those thoughts led me here. I started thinking about my artistic timeline, how if I stepped back for a moment it would be easy for me to see how far I’ve come, how many battles I’ve won, how significantly my work has improved, and I wondered why I don’t look at life from this perspective more often because it made me smile. Of course, I immediately opened Instagram so I could throw some words out into the cyber universe, the platform I often use for giving and receiving love and inspiration. Then I quickly realized that although it may seem silly to some, doing this genuinely brings me joy… and I’m not afraid to admit it. The love I receive on Instagram counts for something, and social media can be a very positive and powerful tool when used correctly. For me, writing has always made me feel better and quite frankly, sharing my ideas makes me feel smart. The simplicity of my pen hitting paper and jotting down a quote or positive affirmation has always lit my soul on fire a little bit… and so I decided I’m going to start blogging. In addition to thoroughly enjoying putting my thoughts into words, I’ve had a number of people reach out to me and ask me for advice on how to pursue a creative lifestyle, one that can maybe someday pay your bills. People seem really interested in my life and that’s pretty amazing.
Ironically, it was three years ago today that I opened my Etsy shop which makes the inspiration for starting a blog on this very day super bizarre yet totally golden. I remember being so excited and so very proud of myself for pressing the “open shop” button, and then frantically reading over my shop page and triple-checking everything as if I hadn’t done it already, 78642356 times. It had taken me months to prepare enough work to create a solid brand image... one that showcased my style and would drive some sales. I started with small watercolor and mixed media pieces on watercolor paper, and I soon began taking custom orders for anything that was going put money in the bank. This was the first time in a very long time that I willingly asked for help, although it looked a lot cooler than simply asking for help. I took to social media, shared my work and my stories, and pretty much said “help me make this happen”. I was working two full-time jobs in Buffalo at the time. I would get home around 11pm and that’s when I would finally sit down and start working on art. I had to convince myself that my day was starting then, because it was… the next few hours were dedicated to myself. Sleeping was more like napping. My bedroom was an absolute wreck. I had artwork piling high on my desk, a desk that I made myself using two wooden sawhorses and a gigantic piece of wood, because a. it was cheap and b. this was the only solution that would fit all of my projects, art supplies, and favorite doo-dads... because you know, we all need our motivational knick knacks.
When I reflect on those moments I get super emotional and I want to cry like a big adult baby. I want to go back in time and give myself a really big hug followed by twenty high-fives. The support from my friends, family, friend’s families, strangers, etc. was seriously overwhelming, and it motivated me to push forward. It helped me believe in myself. I am beyond grateful that I stuck with my passion, even if it meant giving up really wonderful things in life that I now enjoy the most, like tasting my dinner and actually entering my REM stage at night. I will be the first person to tell you that if you want to be an artist and if you want to make it work, you have to work. And by work, I don’t mean create a schedule and always stick to it because guess what? Sometimes your genius is going to go on vacation and you’re like… um, OK thanks for the heads up. And sometimes what you think is going to take you an hour will actually take you three weeks. And sometimes you will drive 20 minutes to get art supplies and you will forget your wallet. EVEN IF YOU SAY THIS WILL NEVER HAPPEN TO YOU. And sometimes you have to sacrifice ordinary life things like having a social life. Need I go on? #dedication
Trust your ambition. I was eager to succeed and I had California on my mind. I was constantly setting short-term goals and I had a really big long-term goal that was 3,000 miles away. I stayed true to what my heart desired the most, regardless of how many people didn’t believe I could make my dream a reality. I worked really, really hard… and guess what? I still do.
I am finally at a point where I can proudly say “no” to project offers because I found my niche and my art is hanging in a gallery. I now have to charge my friends for artwork, and they understand because they are awesome (trust me, good friends will always want to support you rather than have you work for free). I have finally figured out what it is I want to put my energy into, instead of spreading my talents thin and working on anything and everything to make a little extra cash (this extremely difficult because literally every form of art sparks my interest… I’m like a starving wolf with a fresh piece of meat dangled in front of him when a new art trend hits… hi macramé). I think I’m in a good spot right now and I feel very fortunate to be here, however, I definitely recommend the “say yes” approach to those of you just dipping your toes in and working on getting your name out there, or if you are just figuring out what you want to focus on. Saying yes is a great opportunity to network and put your skill set to work. Disclaimer: do not say yes to something you aren’t good at… this is straight up a bad idea.
My goal through blogging is to answer questions and inspire others to pursue their creative passions and artistic desires regardless of social “norms”, because if I’m making it happen, you can make it happen. I also want to help people feel confident on their journeys because I know how easy it to feel like you aren’t getting anywhere. I hope that my ridiculous stories, personal struggles, and positive outlook on life will remind you that you are not the only one who feels like the entire world is crumbling beneath you and that you can, and you will prevail if you stay true to your calling. I’m still not at a point where I can give up my full-time job and make a living making art and that’s OK. My professional journey is just getting started.
P.S. I have frantically read this over 78642356 times before submitting it.
P.P.S. I will frantically read this over and over again now that I have submitted it.
Some things never change.