‘Emerging artist’ always seems like an odd term to me. It seems to suggest you’ve been hiding away somewhere, not quite ready to brave the bright lights. I feel like I’ve been emerging forever and perhaps that’s all there is. Being an artist is about constant discovery, learning new skills and looking at what you want to do next. It grows slowly and even when you reach milestones there’s always more things to work towards.
I hate goals and dreams
In a creative industry you come across many many individuals who want to inspire you to get your shit together, set goals and fulfil your dreams. That’s what everyone wants isn’t it? Of course it is. But this week I’m taking some time to value how much I’ve already done. For a whole lot of it, I had no plan at all. Some plans are a waste of time. Birth plans for example. Don’t bother. I had my first baby on the living room floor by accident. I don’t think a birth plan would have made much difference. Stephen Fry says “The worst thing you can ever do in life is set yourself goals. Two things happen: one is you don’t meet your goals so you call yourself a failure. Secondly, you meet your goal and go, ‘Well, I’m here, now what?
Sometimes I come across an individual who speaks so much sense and clarifies things so beautifully I just want to devour everything they’re saying. This week I’ve been finishing another picture book and finishing a project isn’t always easy. In fact it’s a pain in the arse. I’ve established how the paintings will be put together and I’ve done most of them but for some reason sitting down to finish the last two or three seems arduous. So to help me I have Lisa Congdon in my ears with her new podcast. She’s my new savour at the moment. Ironically she talks about having to stimulate other pathways of your brain whilst you have to complete the arduous tasks of illustration.
The value of experience
Lisa Congdon is 53, another reason why I love her. As an older person pursuing a creative career its really easy to think you’re too old. But what is too old? My work now is informed by everything that came before and I have far more confidence in what I’m able to do now because of all the different areas of illustration and design I’ve explored along the way.
I had no clue what I was doing
The most unbelievably stupid and impulsive decisions I have made have turned out to be the best. Here’s a few examples, I let a guy who I’d met only a few times move into my one bedroomed flat. I moved 20,00 miles away from my home country with two toddlers. I bought a house that was falling down. I had three kids in 5 years. None of it was planned, there were no goals. It’s been messy, heart breaking and massively rewarding.
So what’s next if you don’t plan?
Having said all that I do set goals and make plans. But I think it’s really important to keep all that in perspective. Life gets messy and things take longer than you think they’re going to. But that’s ok. Lisa Congdon also talks about taking on challenges and not knowing where those challenges will take you. When I took on putting together my market stall this year I certainly didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I have. The next challenge is to find wholesale partners on the back of all the discoveries I’ve made about which products sell well. I’ll make plans and schedule things but if it takes me a while that’s ok.