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Entries in freelance (2)

Wednesday
Nov052014

Radio Silence

I know its been forever since I posted and just as long from my last post to the post before that.  In the fast pace world of the internet, radio silence means you do not exist.  Well, I am, still here, still pursuing art, but I wasn't sure that was going to be the case.

Its been no secret that the time and energy to launch not only into art licensing but into the art industry as a whole had been wearing on me for a while.  As much as you want to keep going, reaching for what at one point seemed like the bottomless pit of energy and drive, it isn't always possible.  I had come to the reality that I couldn't do it any longer and without my concious intent, things came to a screeching halt.  

When you put everything you have into achieving a goal, even to the expense of other areas of your life, it is crushing when you don't see it happening.  Up until that point I had kept everything afloat, the job, the child, the house and changing my career, but what gets given up when things start to fall?  If you haven't "made it" on 150% effort, how on earth do you make it on less than that?  I had a million thoughts running through my head and advice from all directions but in the end the only thing I saw as a possibility of putting down was the art.  This realization was crushing to me since in truth, it was the desire to pursue this industry that fueled all those extra hours.  

The funniest part of all this is nothing had particularly "happened" that made me think I was failing.  I think it was things not happening in the time I had allotted them to that caused this instant unraveling.  So although everything had been going well, if I didn't have the energy to do basic things I didn't have the energy to keep up the almost super woman existence I had been leading. The truth is that I pushed very hard to get to and  through Surtex this past Spring, hoping to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and that didn't come.  What I came away with is I may have another 2-3 years of very hard work until I start to see the tide changing.  It was a crushing blow and I spent many months grieving the life and career lost.  That probably sounds extreme but its really the only thing I can equate it to.  

In the end it was my Husband, who I think would have to admit, has not always been a fan of this pursuit of mine, who said maybe it was time I put down the day job to concentrate on art.  It was that comment amidst the "not everyone gets to do what they love for work", "art isn't a reality for MOST people", "you gave it your best shot" that stuck.  I decided to create my own light at the end of the tunnel.  So January 1st, the date that I had set with hopeful timidness last February, will be the end of my steady employment.  It is not something done lightly, I have been with them for eight and a half years and have been working to get them settled in a way I will feel good about leaving.  Its a very difficult thing to explain to people as job offers have presented themselves to take its place that although they are great options, I am leaving for what I believe to be my BEST option.  It is most definitely the one with the biggest unknowns but as many risks as I have taken in the past four years, I can't say I really ever took a financial one.  

I want to think I will sleep more, blog more, create more, do more, but I suppose I won't really know what my days will be until I get there.  I am the antithesis of my previous planning self!  I really don't know what is ahead in terms of things to worry about or to be excited about but that's all "future thinking" as my dear friend says, there is just as much a chance of success as failure.  I still have a few weeks left (seven, but who's counting!) until my new schedule takes affect.  Its a mix of relief and worry as it nears but I'm ready for this.  Ready for the leap. 

Friday
Nov022012

Jumping In

How do you know when the time is right?  When do you take that next step?  Am I ready? 

Twenty-five months ago I was told by my employer that they would be unable to keep me on as a full time employee.  It was shocking, like a rug had been pulled right out from under me, but it turned out to be the best thing that could have happened.  I began to realize that even the "safe" jobs really aren't and I was forced to reexamine what I should/could do with my time.  It seems funny now but even though I had wanted to be an illustrator since I was a kid, it was only at this point that I started to think it could happen.  I had always thought it was something I didn't have time for, something that was incredibly hard to achieve.  I was in my own way and this one event helped me to get out of it!

I had no portfolio, no idea what I should do, no real idea of how to start, but the simple knowledge that I would have two days a week to concentrate on art seemed to get me dreaming again.  I started to research the art licensing field and everything I learned seemed to be familiar in someway.  It just seemed to fit, no other way to describe it.  So I jumped in, all in.  I started to tell people I was an illustrator, did more research, began creating.  I decided to walk Surtex in 2011 and exhibit in 2012 without having one inkling what that might mean or involve.  I'm pretty sure to anyone else I probably looked like I had this obsessive hobby, but I knew it was more, I was changing my career. 

It's funny trying to describe what you are doing without having all the details.  People give you that funny look; sure they nod and smile but really you know they are thinking "this chick is nuts".  To be fair, I had many days where I looked at myself that way!  How do you keep going without any indicator that you are on the right path?  It's not easy, I wish I could say it was, and I don't think I'm anything special because I did it.  There were all too many times I just felt deflated and wondered if the time I was spending was truly an investment or if it was just taking me away from the things happening around me.  But you just keep going and at some point you've gone too far to go back.  

I started to build collections, taught myself how to make patterns, reinvented how I painted.  My goal was to stick to my traditional watercolors but try to be as versatile as some of the digital artists I saw.  I didn't see a lot of work that looked like mine and it really had me worried that there wouldn't be a place for me.  I read that watercolor didn't reproduce well and that manufacturers didn't like to use it, colors were too soft and didn't meet current trends.  Something told me to just keep going.  All I knew is that I had to get to Surtex.  I guess it wasn't much of a plan but it's the one thing I focused on everyday.  I whole heartedly felt that if I could just get myself to that show, I'd figure out my next steps.

Surtex was an unbelievable experience for me.  The artists, exhibitors, and manufacturers were all so amazing.  It was validation that what I thought was right, really did have it's place.  I had found my place and never felt so at home.  So many times during this process I had felt that I was on my intended path at my intended time.  Even though it was a hard two years and I never worked more than I had in my life, I can't say they were difficult.  I never felt like I was fighting an uphill battle or that the odds were stacked against me.

So here I was exactly two years after my employment was dropped to part time and I am told once again that I will not be able to stay on in my typical capacity.  Costs need to be cut again and my employer will be taking over my duties.  This time there was no rug pulled out, no sinking feeling, no question what my next move would be.  In truth I had been secretly hoping something like this would happen since returning home from the show.  I never could have anticipated how difficult it would be to return to work after glimpsing that world.  Financially, I'm not there.  Licensing takes time to generate income.  I had full knowledge of this when I started and had gone into things with a five year plan in mind not two.  I was hoping to save up a years worth of expenses before taking this leap but sometimes life gives us the little pushes we could never take ourselves.  

Financially, is it EVER going to be the right time?  Probably not, especially not to this girl.  I'm practical, analytical, a planner.  I long for stability, order, the ability to control all external factors.  Isn't funny that a person like that would choose such an unknown as a career?  Never understood it myself, must be that whole right/left brain thing I've got going on!  Even the thought of using my nest egg, one that was specifically saved for this very purpose, makes me anxious.  Despite all of this, I knew as soon as it happened that this also was at the right time.  I am trying to have faith that the deals I have in place will be just the ones I need (I can't wait to share!).  I am trusting that money will come even though I may not have real figures to plan on.  For the first time, I see my time as being more valuable than the dollar amount assigned to it when it is sold to someone else.

From forty hours to freelance in twenty five months.  I could have never anticipated this would be the journey I'd be on, but I'm so happy to say that today I am JUMPING IN!