My previous post surprised me. Instead of a regular, long-form post, I wrote what I guess amounts to a poem. The most poem-like my writing really gets. In case you hadn’t noticed, I’ve started blogging more. My mandate at this point is to write something every day. What I write must relate somehow to the practice of illustration but also to my personal experience as an illustrator and everything else in the “me” package.
I have always written stuff like this (the poem) to myself, and even online, up until I shut down my personal blog almost 7 years ago. As with a hangover, I woke up today and wondered whether that poem was in step with my online persona. Was it on brand? Does it fit the perception I want others to have of me, from a professional standpoint? Is it appropriate? Is it too obscure? Will people shut off because they don’t know what to make of it?
To be honest, I don’t know the answers to these questions. And I am still doubtful of the value of writing a poem on this particular blog. But my mandate is to write something, anything, every day. It’s a challenge. It’s as tool for me to cut through what I feel is a bit of a standstill in my inner life, or my inner career life at least. I hope that by reflecting more on what I am doing, I will be more intentional and thoughtful, and this will be more evident in my work. I don’t want to just make images. I want to make meaningful images that bring value to the viewer. Images that are beautiful, yes. Alive, full of energy.
This used to be my only criteria for being satisfied with what I make, but increasingly, I am finding it hard to believe in just these. These were enough when all I aimed to do was to stand out in a sea of illustrators, to compete for the attention of good clients. And now that I am established and have a steady and even growing influx of clientele, the challenge of getting noticed by the right people has been met. Thrillseeker that I am, I am now looking for the next challenge. But because what I do is how I feed my family, I also want to keep doing what I’m doing, because that’s what people pay me for.
My new task is to rekindle the joy in what I do, in what I am doing. To be thankful, and to keeping doing it with even greater joy and passion. I must be passionate, even when I am exhausted. Even when the lustre of this dream job of mine is lost. It’s not really lost, though, is it? It’s just time to give it a shine-up, and perhaps some extra tender loving care.
But I digress from my original point in the second paragraph — about whether posting poetry is appropriate for this blog. What I wanted to say next was that it’s a bit of an experiment. At the risk of throwing a few readers off, I’m hoping to poke a few holes in my online persona to let some light shine in (to borrow a Leonard Cohenism). Not just light shining from the outside in, but from the inside out. As I mentioned a few posts earlier, another mandate of my renewed commitment to writing is to give back to the illustration community. To provide reflections, not only from the practical side of this practice, but also from personal. How does who I am feed into what I am doing, and how, in turn does what I do feed back into who I am. I think these are the most important questions we can be asking as professionals, especially once we’re established and not seeking recognition with the same intensity we needed to in our early career.
Of course, I want what I am writing to be helpful to those starting out, and to those who haven’t yet started, because these too need so much encouragement and direction.
So I guess this present post is about what this blog is about. What the purpose is, and therefore, what to include and what to exclude. What is useful to others and what is not? Where is the line between courageous sharing and indulgent divulgence? Hopefully my readers can help me answer that question — that is, assuming I have readers at all! (I am afraid to check the metrics). Hopefully, I will prove to be a good judge of appropriateness along the way. I do fear that, in the spirit of actually trying to be vulnerable and transparent, I will go too far.
At this point, I don’t really care if people loved, hated, or just didn’t care about the poem. I’ve already made too big a deal of it! It’s just a way to write something, anything, without being held back by a cloudy mind. And last night, when I sat down to write, I couldn’t think straight. So I wrote what I was experiencing in the moment, and it led to the realization that I am not hungry. I need to be hungry in order to be passionate. I may have lost my hunger because I’m gorging myself on too much quantity and therefore denying myself the chance to enjoy a lesser amount of more quality. In other words, I’m fat on junk food (maybe too much self involvement in my daily routine?) and need a cleanse. And maybe vomiting out possible nonsense is part of the cleanse. I hope you stick with me, but don't blame you if you don't.