Friday, September 16, 2011

Diagram of Progress

It's interesting to look back on your life and be able to see the physical progress. Not just in years and age, but in the actual changes. When you can plot the progression on a diagram and say "This is where I was five years ago, this is where I am now, and these are all the things in between."

My most recent round of unemployment was less difficult than previous ones, mostly because I quickly acquired a position working from home. I also felt as though the universe was sending me the very clear message: Stop fooling around! Go make art! DESIGN! DESIGN! DESIGN! I am attempting to heed that message.

I refuse to work in an office doing menial administrative tasks, or to sit in a room with a hundred other people chained to a desk by a headset. Those do not make me happy. They do not fulfill me, or sustain me. They make me tired and angry and frustrated, because I have so many dreams. So many things I want to create, and those jobs just suck out my soul in a slow agonizing death of myself.

Which is why I decided on grad school, but then realized that I'm not quite ready. Instead I am focusing my effort on gaining experience as a designer, building a client base to allow myself to freelance. I am finding productive ways of using my time to create. I'm putting together a series of art work that, if it all comes together, will become a huge display in a gallery as a solo show. I'm volunteering my time and skills at a local arts center, and I'm researching and applying for internships. These are all things that I could not have done five years ago. I believe they are things that I had to come to, they are things that are the beginning of the next part of my journey. A new phase of life.

I am lucky that right now I am able to do some work from home, and I am considering finding part time work at a bar, and also the internship (if I can get one). These are not things I could have done before, even a year ago. Even six months ago. I needed to reach this point with a clear realization of what I truly want and how to get it. 

It's encouraging to look back over the years and be able to plot this progress. To know how far I've come. It makes me believe that the only direction I can go is up, and that my dreams are within my grasp.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Where is the Beginning

Since my decision to go to grad school I've received information regarding several programs here in Philadelphia. As I read through all of them I find it daunting. Each program is intense, requiring the artist to push themselves beyond their limits, to discover themselves and to create something amazing. I find it somewhat terrifying, as I look back over my own work and my own accomplishments as an artist.

I find it frustrating that when I think on what I have done over the last five years, the whole of it amounts to almost nothing. I have flitted back and forth between having huge dreams of doing something artistically amazing to not wanting to do much of anything at all.

I don't have a concise body of work. I don't have a style or a theme. I don't know what I want to convey, what part of me will be revealed in my work. I don't know how my own art will be created, and I don't know where to begin. The beginning is usually the best place to start, but where is the beginning?

When I would paint I would simply put color on canvas without any sort of thought. I would paint and paint and paint until the shape and colors came together to form something that I liked. However, when I would show these pieces to people they would argue that it is not concise enough. That there is no cohesive thought behind it, that it wasn't quite what it should be. That I should KNOW what it is I am painting before I paint it. Frustrated and uncertain I stopped painting.

Ever since then I've not created anything of myself. Anything I do is an illustration, a design, a pop culture reference. It is not a piece of me, because I no longer know how to express myself in art. My struggle is how do I find that? How do I express who I am? Why can't I not know what my art will be until I make it? Why do I need to have a specific style in which I create? Why can't my art be abstract expressions of myself, and why can't I not know what those expressions are before I start?

It is for those reasons, and others, that I am withholding my graduate applications for at least a year. I want to take the time to find out who I am as an artist, and how it is that I express myself and my vision of the world. I want to create amazing work and build a fantastic portfolio. This is not something I can do in a few months, it might not even be something I can do in a year, but it is something I can begin, and that is the important thing.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Poe the Cat

This is the inking I did of Poe, my friend's cat. Unfortunately this was taken with my husband's phone, so it's not the best picture. I plan on getting a better quality photo soon.

For the record my friend and her entire family loved the picture. They were so thrilled with it and plan to hang it in their home. It really made my day and my confidence soar to have been able to capture the cat so accurately.

I'm really looking forward to working more with ink. It's a fairly new medium for me, but one I really enjoy.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Daunting Prospect

Unemployment continues, though it's only been less than a week. Not having a phone makes it difficult. I'll need to acquire a microphone and set up google voice so I can make effort toward finding a job.

This evening I finished an ink drawing of my friend's cat. My husband said "Have I ever told you that your art is awesome?" I said "I'm not sure...?"

I had been putting this project off because I wasn't sure exactly how I was going to approach it. Was it going to be done with ink? Or was it going to be an etching? Was I going to wash it with color? Or leave it black and white? The whole project seemed daunting to me. I was afraid that the moment I began it I would ruin it, and feel as though it was hopeless. That I never should have tried. (I seem to have a defeatist perspective on my art.)

In the end I just sat down and did it. I had photocopied some photo's, blowing them up to twice the size so I could mark them. Then I gridded the whole thing out, gridded my paper and threw down a rough sketch. Then I started inking it in. The whole thing only took a few days, and I probably could have finished it in less time if I had spent several hours solid on it at a time. But I worked in spurts, taking a break if I felt nervous.

Sometimes I feel like using the grid approach to drawing from photo is cheating because I'm not freehanding the whole thing. But how is it really any different than tracing a photograph for an illustration? Just because I use a guide of some kind to get the initial layout, doesn't make the whole project a fraud. It's still my own work. If it were cheating one could argue that drawing anything from a photograph, or even real life was cheating because it didn't come out of your head. It's the same sort of logic that equals A+B=C THEREFORE B+C=D (even if it really equals E).

In the end I'm thrilled with the piece. It's beautiful and probably one of my best so far. I've already found a few things that I would do differently if I were to do it over again, but those things are so minor that I'm probably the only one that notices them.

Tomorrow I gift the work to my friend. She already knows she's getting it. It's for her birthday, and a commemoration of her dearly departed cat.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Unemployment, Panic, and Silver Lining

So now I'm unexpectedly unemployed. I'm rather upset about this, as the situation is utterly ridiculous. I got fired because I was caught in horrible and unexpected traffic that resulted in me being late one too many times. I was not allowed an explanation of the circumstances, or any sort of chance to defend myself. I was simply told to hand over my keys and leave. Couldn't even finish out my shift. Bastards.

I actually liked that job, and I was doing everything in my power to get there early and do my job. It's just a few times I ended up stuck in traffic I couldn't avoid (Thank you Philadelphia!) that caused it to end. 99% of the time I was there 20 minutes early. Doesn't that count for something? Apparently not.

So now I embark on yet another feverish job hunt. I need to find something and quickly. That or manage to generate a steady stream of clients to fuel my freelancing full time. I doubt that's going to happen. I'm just not sure where to go with this. I could hand my resume off to a friend and ask them to put in a good word with their boss, but that job would suck the soul out of me. I would hate it every day. It would hurt in ways I can't even explain. It would be in a call center. Ugh. I HATE call centers.

Another option is to submit my resume to the temp agencies I had worked through previously. The problem with this would be landing yet another hateful position in yet another call center at this same company. Oh, the hurt! Additionally, I could hope and pray that the more local branch of that same agency would provide me with a position that lasts more than a month. I'd like to point out that this has never happened.

A third option is to submit my resume and portfolio to some local design temp agencies and see where that goes. It would be in my field, granting me much needed experience. But would I actually get any positions? I worry that my work is not up to par, that my lack of experience is going to forever hold me back, that if I did get in I'd just be overwhelmed. Honestly, I probably worry too much about that stuff.

There's a lot to think about here, and a lot that needs doing. I really can't go too long without generating an income. However, I will have more time to work on my own projects until I DO find something. So, at least there's some silver lining.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Portfolio, Photoshop, and Clients! Oh my!

I've actually done very little in terms of portfolio pieces. I feel as though I'm being pulled in several different directions and I haven't quite had the time to sit down and really work on them. The one time I did I started an oil painting thinking they were water solluble... turns out they weren't and I've no paint thinner. I felt brilliant. However! I like the painting, just waiting until I acquire some paint thinner before I finish it. I have many many plans for projects in the works. My next project is going to be some sort of inking or etching of my friend's cat. (She already knows about it, so it's not a super secret surprise.)

In the meantime I'm reaching out and trying to connect with other artists and designers. So far Google+ has been beneficial for this. I find it important to connect with other artists of all types, to always be expanding your horizons, to challenge your own visions through the eyes of another. If you can see how another artists sees the world, it can profoundly affect how you see the world, and how that is affected in your work. It's also just nice to have other people on a similar page, so that when I start geeking about whatever super sexy font I just came across I don't get too many weird looks. Or maybe I do.

The other thing I've been focusing on is photoshop tutorials. I found a neat website that has a bunch of different tutorials that I really like. So far I've gone through two, and I'm pretty keen on the techniques, if not the results themselves. It's just awesome learning new techniques, and finding resources that teach me more in one tutorial, than I ever learned in any classroom.  Anything that will make me a better artist and designer and gives my portfolio a punch is a win in my book.

Also, clients. Generating them, to be specific. It's part of why I'm blogging, why I'm active in an artistic sort of way on G+, twitter, and facebook. I suppose the next step is stepping up my portfolio, building a website, and emailing the giant list of contacts I've got. I've talked to a few other designers and it seems that as a freelancer generating clients is the most difficult thing, especially if you don't already have a somewhat consistent base. To do this, all day, every day is my dream. To have my own office (at home or otherwise), to work for myself, set my own hours, and create fantastic, mind bending design for fun and profit. That's what I want, but I can't do it without clients. They are the bread and butter of this business, and without them nothing gets done.

There's a half dozen other things I wanted to mention, but I think most of them can wait for their own post, as this one is getting to be a bit of a ramble.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

I'm starting on pieces for my portfolio and getting back into creating fine art pieces on a regular basis is going to take some getting used to. Over the last several years I've only done a handful of pieces, unsure of myself, my abilities, and what I wanted to be when I grew up. It's difficult to gain confidence in yourself if you don't try and don't put yourself out there. Fear of rejection is sterilizing, and not believing yourself capable of creating "good art" feeds the fear of rejection.

I'm finding that "good art" is subjective. Certainly there are technical aspects that are generally considered the correct way of doing certain things, but it's also understood and expected that those rules are really guidelines and they are expected to be bent and broken. One of my teachers in college told me that in order to break the rule, you must first understand it. I'm not entirely sure that I agree with this, certainly there are self taught artists who have never conventionally learned the "correct" way of doing something, and have instead done something different, and some of them are extremely successful artists.

For me I've held a lack of self confidence that I am slowly starting to overcome. I'm beginning to realize that I am a better artist than I give myself credit for, and I could become a great artist with practice, exploration of new media, and exploration of myself. I am beginning to try new things, to revisit old things, and to try to find my own style.

I think the thing that I enjoy most about creating art is trying new things. I'm the type of person that wants to try everything. To create art in every medium. While I might find that there are some things I don't seem to have a knack for, there are even more that I find I truly enjoy.

I currently have a goal to prepare a portfolio that reflects my versatility as an artist, my own personal style, and my eagerness to learn and explore. My portfolio will ultimately be a dynamic exploration of art, and to achieve this I plan to complete at least one piece a week. Eventually I will get into the rhythm and simply not stop creating, and that is what I would like to ultimately do.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Off to See the Wizard!

Sort of.

I'm applying to grad school, and oh my god it's like a second job. I've only just begun the process and I've already managed to find ten million things I need to do before I'm ready to complete the application process. I've only just begun sending out information requests for different programs and begun thinking about how to pull together the type of portfolio that kicks major ass. I'm also starting to stress. My personal application deadline is January 1.

I've already begun recruiting people for assistance. I've got people on stand by to critique any work I do, I've sent out requests to former professors for letters of recommendation, and I've already got people giving me tips and advice on how to write my essay. This is a bit more like wonderland and a bit less like oz.

All of this on top of being a full time mom, freelance designer, part time receptionist, and working on a graphic novel. I've also got ambitions of making a personal website to host my blog, my portfolio, short stories about my adventures, and possibly even a webcomic. Sometimes I think I'm extra crazy, but this is what I really wanna do, and I need to do it now. It's time for a change and this is it!

To help keep myself focused, to help me keep the stress down, and to chronicle this new and exciting adventure I plan to post on here every so often. Hopefully a little more often than in the past (I am a lazy blogger, but at least I admit it, and that is the first step to recovery.)