Why do you make art?
It is true we all have a specific purpose, and it is also true we are all just lost souls painting aimlessly. At least, I feel that I am both, depending at which day, or which time of the day you ask me this question.
Illustrating books is such a weird job. I felt I was in the dark cave for months, and I can not really show the work to anyone, except the agent and editors which I have never met and barely know personally. I actually really miss the days before I start doing client work, engaging with the community here, geek out about value, colour and composition.
Then one day a couple weeks ago, I remembered the main reason I started doing the art thing was that I do not want a full-time job which I spend my whole day on someone else's vision. If I end up illustrating books after books, leaving no space for personal projects, then it is not that different from having a full-time job, working on someone else's vision. I suddenly see why I felt I was in the edge of burnout. That was the moment, I grabbed my laptop and emailed my agent that I need to re-shuffle my schedule for this year to leave some space for me to do silly stories, to learning new skills, and to spend time on the forum here chatting with other artists.
I do not really know what kind of stories I want to write and paint. Right now, I am aiming for quantity over quality when comes to writing stories. I figured, if I write enough (and read enough too), I will find out eventually...
@carlianne I love this question and it's so cool to read everyones different experiences. For me making art is the way I process and understand the world. There have been so many things in my life that the ability to create has gotten my through. I really feel so fortunate every day that this is the path I chose, my world is colorful and full of magic because of it.
I understand your feeling of being "lost or torn between all the avenues available", I think we all cycle through that at different points when we decide this is what we want to do with our lives. I spent many years exploring different avenues: I showed work in galleries, I owned a gallery, I did the craft fair tour for a few years (haha, too many things to list) and through all those avenues I learned that, for me, I didn't enjoy being dependent on selling art as my primary source of income. I've been lucky enough to find jobs working for art companies and through these jobs I have learned so much, even been paid to learn skills that have improved me as an artist. Now I'm here with all you wonderful people, my daughter is grown, I have a job that I enjoy, so I can spend my evenings and weekends exploring and simply making what I want because I want to. I always crave more time to work on art, but I think this makes me work harder and really appreciate the time I do have.
I guess at the end of the day all we can do is pick a direction and go, there's no right or wrong and if we don't like it we can take what we've learned and try something new.
Thank you for starting this discussion, it's always good to reflect and I'm really enjoying everyone's responses.
@carlianne I'm on the other side of that I'm working towards making a living with art, coming from doing a job that I've liked very much for almost 15 years. I still love what I do, but after so many years I feel like I'm coming to the point where I'm getting jaded with the grind part of the job. The mundane tasks are starting to grate on me more than the creative side of it invigorates me. So now I'm looking down the road and saying "In 10 years do I REALLY want to be doing this?". And if the answer isn't "YES!" then I think it's time to start looking at what else is down the road.
I think what you're experiencing is totally natural. Anyone I've ever met that found their "dream job" at some point found that they had another dream somewhere down the road. And then another. And another one after that. We're not supposed to love the same thing until we're dead. I just don't think we're wired that way. Eventually we grow to want other things. It's kind of funny how people are simultaneously prone to falling into patterns while being unhappy with our lack of variety. And while I'm not sure what that transition I'm in looks like for me, I'm looking forward to looking back in 15 years from now and see how I got it to all work!
@xin-li You know I totally agree that if you are working as an artist for someone else, that you HAVE to create your own art and projects on the side. I tried not doing that for several years and my art suffered and I started to lose my love for it. I'm so glad you've decided to carve time out for yourself! To be honest, one of the reasons I came to SVS was to start working on my own projects again, but now I think I'm getting spoiled and now it's the only thing I want to do! Which is okay, I just need to figure out what that is. I think last year I just wanted to figure out what style I wanted to paint in, and I guess this year I want to figure out what medium!
@Tiffany-Thomas Thanks for your response! I'm curious, what is that you do for your day job now?
@carlianne figuring out art stuff takes time, it is all just process. I tend to think of it as collecting puzzle pieces. I have no idea what the big picture is going to look like, but every little thing I understood about art, it is a puzzle piece I collected.
I was also very spoiled with my personal projects for a while. Then client projects kicked in. The way I got through them is to think of them as mileage - I believe the volume of completed pieces is an important thing for beginner artists. I use the client based work to accumulate the volume of completed work, as they have a clear defined deadline, and I have a commitment to do so. Once there is limitations, I have to work creatively to get through. I do see a visible improvement after painting a big volume of work over a relatively short time period.
I also want to play with medium this year
@carlianne I do a bunch of different things for my company but I'd say my primary job is curating and designing art for hotels. I am still dealing with designers, art directors and timelines but I'm less emotionally invested since the purpose of the art is to design for a specific location. It's challenging at times, depending on the project & how many revisions are needed, but I really enjoy the variety. Sometimes I'm collaging photography in photoshop, sometimes I'm painting abstracts or ocean scenes, etc. I think what I enjoy the most is how much I learn from each project, it could be experimenting with new art material to try and get the right effect or just simple things like exploring color or composition. I've also learned so much about curation, design, sequencing images, merchandising, marketing, branding (haha, I still need to learn how best to apply this knowledge to my own work).
@Tiffany-Thomas I’ve always wanted to do hotel art. And wondered who actually did that. Now we know. That’s pretty cool.
Neha Rawat last edited by
@carlianne Great question! I think it's easy to get lost in the flow of things and self reflection like such is not only helpful but also necessary!
Technically, I've been freelancing since 2015 but after spending 4 years feeling lost professionally and personally and grasping at straws, I have only just gained confidence that I'm on the right path. There are so many life lessons I learned in the past few years which I see being so wonderfully and creatively expressed in children's books which is why I am attracted to them.
I do believe that purpose can keep changing with time. I recently found a stash of my old artwork from 8-15 years ago. And my art at that time was purely a vent of personal emotions. My current purpose revolved around being financially independent and also contributing to a child's life through children's book. Like Xin mentioned, since finding representation, I've been missing creating personal art and just connecting with people and experimenting on my own. But I feel I've been hustling for so long without results, so I'm allowing myself to enjoy the fact that I'm able to make a living by doing something I love. I know in the future I want to author-illustrate a book and teach others as well. It's nice to have some clarity of though after a looooong period of clouded mind.
donnamakesart last edited by
I usually do art because I have an image in my head I would like to share with someone or there’s a certain action or change I want to incite in others.
There are times I can’t explain how I feel in words so I say them through art instead.
To share, here a short podcast which really changed my mindset on “finding a purpose in my art” which I found comforting: http://www.makersandmystics.com/makersandmystics/2018/6/8/hans-rookmaaker-art-needs-no-justification
Hope it’s useful to you
@Whitney-Simms haha, some projects are definitely cooler than others. There are a bunch of artists and companies out there that specialize in hospitality art. It is a pretty cool job, I have yet to see my work in a hotel but when I'm researching for the project I get to learn a lot about the town/city the hotel is located in, so I get to let my imagination travel to all these different places. I highly recommend if you ever get the opportunity ;).
@carlianne Off the top of my head, I have 3 reasons why I make art:
- It makes me happy to create something beautiful
- It makes me happy when people appreciate my work and have the work move them in some way.
- It pays my bills and allows me to live.
I did notice that my third reason is starting to be my first as of late. I'm not that bothered because I do want to save up a lot of money asap so I can go back to school. But I also noticed that my best works are those I made because I wanted to, because it was fun for me, not because some client or Art Director wanted me to do so in exchange for money.
I'm currently researching new avenues where I can make the art that I want and earn just as much. I'm considering making comics for Webtoons. I'm not sure how that will turn out but I'm willing to give it a try.
Melissa Bailey 0 last edited by
@Nyrryl-Cadiz my reasons are the same as yours, and I'm also running into the same problems.
After 11 years of illustrating for clients, I found that I didn't have time to work on my own projects. So this year I'm trying to set aside time to do personal work. And I have found, like you, that it resonates more with people and I tend to like it more.
But, being a glass-half-full girl, I figure that this is a good problem to have. I can work from home and do what I love for a living!
@donnamakesart oooh I'm excited to listen to this one! Thanks!! I
@Melissa-Bailey-0 @Nyrryl-Cadiz yes I think this is totally how I've been feeling as well. I was taking client work for 10 years, and stopped doing personal work, so now that I'm making personal work again, I realized how much better quality it is and how much happier I feel making it! But then realized I didn't know what kind of personal work I want to do lol
Actually, since starting this thread I have started to think I want to try doing some 4 panel comics. I realized in college I was struggling to decide between illustration and story boarding, and comics really fall between those two worlds. Plus they can be funny, I can document things about my life I want to remember, and they can be simple and sketchy rather than rendered.
@Nyrryl-Cadiz I actually don't know about webtoons, is that just a place to upload webcomics?
@carlianne yes, it’s actually like youtube but for comics where they’ll pay you if you meet their requirements like having 1000 subscribers and having at least 40k US monthly views.
Here’s some of their rules: https://www.webtoons.com/en/terms/adRevenueSharingPolicy
@Nyrryl-Cadiz ooooh that is nice
Navya Raju last edited by
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@carlianne I totally see your art in comic format. Would be really interesting reading comic stories from you. I was huge indie comic reader some years back. My passion for narrative art started with reading Neil Gaiman's Sandman, and Art Spiegelman, Marjane Satrapi's biographical comics. I am following Lucy Knisley's biographical comic since 2007 when her first book was out :-). Right now, I really love Grant Snider's comic (he also does beautiful, simple and profound children's books :-).