I came here to write a couple posts on burnout, but twice, my Safari crashed and I lost everything in my post editor here on Squarespace. (Hey Squarespace, maybe you could have some kind of auto-save feature here?). Anyway, it serves me right — I usually use a plain text editor to compose and paste in later to avoid these very situations.
But I digress. I had come here to be reflective about my work life, but I was having too much trouble focusing in on a relevant point. And then I started describing how addicted I have become to a couple podcasts of late, one that has been defunct since 2012, and one that is brand new.
Briefly, I will tell you what they are. First, there is Thomas James's Escape From Illustration Island, an interview format podcast where James connects with a very impressive roster of illustration and design pros including Steven Heller and Murray Tinkelman. Second, there is Creative Pep Talk with Andy J. Miller, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like — one guy, monologue style, speaking directly, personally, and positively about the ins and outs of being a freelance illustrator. I don't intend on this being a podcast review, but I do implore you to check both of these podcasts out, if you are, like me, a professional or aspiring independent illustrator or commercial artist.
Now what does a botched blog post about burnout have to do with my recent infatuation with these podcasts? Well, these podcasts have been breathing life into my creative soul, helping me to feel inspired by the incredible talent that exists out there and feeling more camaraderie with my fellow illustrators in all corners of the earth. I really feel more a part of a greater community as a result. And I also am inspired to be more intentional about contributing to that community, giving back a little of what I have received.
I also want to be more thoughtful and reflective of my life and practice as an illustrator, so that, hopefully, I can start being more perceptive of those things that lead me to burnout in the first place. I'm sure this is a common scenario, but I have really just been in "do" mode for the last four months, not really giving myself enough time to step back and observe and reflect on what I am doing and why.
So I offer you, the illustration community, this: me writing more regularly on this blog. I will write about my personal struggles as an illustrator, as a provider for my family, as a professional who needs to meet the needs of my clients, as one with both many years of experience and (hopefully) many years ahead. It may be once a week, or maybe once bi-weekly. The format may not be mind-blowing, nor the content completely original, but I hope that my unique experience and perspective will be useful to some!
Blogging for me is not new. I have been blogging since 2002 in various forms. I started keeping a highly (and quite boldly) personal journal on Blurty (which was a sibling to Livejournal). I started blogging with the deep need to be understood and connect amidst the loneliness and depression of my early 20s. I quickly found a community of fellow bloggers who almost lived to write and read each other’s posts and to comment and encourage each other.
In 2004 or thereabouts, I moved from the Blurty platform to Blogger, where I ran a blog called Process and Progress, a continuation of my personal blog, but with a bit more focus on my journey into a creative career. I killed the blog in 2009 when my personal life was changing radically and I wanted to avoid the temptation to write about any of it in the public sphere.
Since then, I have had many attempts at blogging, including a drawing blog, a design blog, and most recently this one. Never have I been able to return to the focus and poignancy of my earlier, more personal blogs, and I think, in retrospect, this is my strength: being personal and somewhat philosophical about things (I use the word philosophical quite lightly, as I am certainly no philosopher!). I certainly don’t intend on committing career suicide by airing my dirty laundry, but I hope to write honestly and articularly about this illustration life. Heck, maybe I’ll even call my new series of posts This Illustration Life.
Among other things, I will of course offer more practical advice and insider views into how I operate my business. I look forward to writing more, connecting more with the greater illustration community, and, more than anything, learning to give back to a community that has given me so much.
Wish me luck. And thanks for reading.