You can be perfect or you can make art5 min read

Grass is green where you water it poster

I make these posters to remind myself of what’s important. For me, lettering positive and inspirational sentiments is a way to get back on track when I forget why I’m doing what I’m currently doing.

Going through the process of finding the right words, designing the typography layout and then working on getting the balance of the message just right, is me giving myself a pep talk.

And I know that if I need the pick-me-up, others do too – so I share them!

I’m still finding out who I am

Like many girls, I spent most of my time well into my 20s trying to live up to others’ ideas about who I should be. Prevailing culture, society and upbringing didn’t leave much space for me to pursue who I really was. Especially as an aspiring artist, I was told time and again that art isn’t a Real Job and that I needed to ‘grow up’ and consider some ‘real’ options.

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So, now that I’ve decided to go ahead and be an artist anyway, I’m trying to answer questions like:

  • What kind of artist am I?
  • What am I saying as an artist?
  • What do I want to communicate with my art?
  • How can I best reach out to you, the person who wants to hear what I have to say?
  • How do I tell my story?

I think more important than finding a “signature style” as an artist, is to find my voice. This is all new to me – even though I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember – but I’ve never wholly committed myself to becoming a professional artist.

Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.

– Brené Brown

I’m far from perfect, and usually, have more questions than answers. Exposing myself like this – putting my art out there for everyone to see – is terrifying.

What if I fail? What if no one likes my art? What if I never become successful enough and have to go back to the ‘real’ world and find one of those ‘real’ jobs?

I didn’t start calling myself an artist until a year ago

Before that, I’d just always tell people I was a freelancer. I was afraid that I’d be found out as a fake, should I start calling myself an artist. I was holding myself back from truly committing to it. I kept holding out for something else to come along, that perfect job where I’d get to be the artist I’ve always been AND a steady paycheck – also known as the Easy Way Out.

However, every time I thought about taking a job, I became stressed and super unhappy. My gut started twisting like I was hosting an octopus wrestling match in my stomach. I got dark and gloomy and walked around with a perpetual storm cloud above my head.

Eventually, I told myself the only option I have is to make it as an artist

“The only way you’re going to have a Real Job, is when you create it,” I told myself. And I was, finally, able to breathe: that concept of trying to please others by compromising myself eased it’s choke-hold.

I decided that I can be perfect, or I can make art.

Art is now my nine-to-five because I decided to treat it as such. This is only the beginning of the journey, and even this job entails a lot of work that isn’t drawing or painting – but I get to be an artist. After I made my first two sales, titling myself as an artist didn’t seem so false anymore. Yes, those are only two sales, but the first ones are always the most critical.

Vulnerability is not winning or losing. It’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome.

Brené Brown

Art is a human act

The purpose of art is not to produce a product. The purpose of art is to produce thinking, to explore the nature of perception, to create pleasure and to evoke strong emotion.

Art is courageous

Art is generous. Art is courageous. Art is provocative. Art is emotive. As an artist, you must constantly endeavour to bare your insecurities and find the courage to be vulnerable in front of others.

Art is rebellion

You can keep track of what you will get in return, or you can make art. You can enjoy the status quo, or you can make art. You can be perfect, or you can make art.

Being an artist is to emerge from the dark and formless roots of your unconsciousness and to grow wings to fly into the sky with. This way of being is in itself rebellious – not because you fight against anyone or anything – because you commit to discovering your true nature and living in accordance with it.

Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.

– Brené Brown

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