Since graduating from university (studying illustration & animation), free time has adopted a new meaning and my creative endeavours have taken on a new purpose. While at Uni, the goal of my creative projects was fulfilling a creative brief and ultimately, ending up with a good grade. At the time, studying was the focus, whereas now, cultivating work for myself is the goal, and in a creative field that’s not as streamlined as applying for jobs and ending up with full time work. While studying, my free time was spent working part time, and of course, doing homework and working on my Uni projects. Now, most days I work, and I spend my free time trying to maintain a social life and with what’s leftover (which often feels like not much) I try and work on my creative projects that I ultimately hope will become my job at some point.
Given this, (what I’d consider a) conundrum, any creative projects I think of, embark on, or come up with, are weighted with the pressure of feeling worthy of having monetary value. I weigh up whether or not something is worth by time by considering whether it’s going to end up making me money or not. I’m finding that I’m putting constant pressure on myself to come up with ideas that will be good for business, that people will buy, or that could turn into something people will buy. Obviously the goal for me is to make enough money from my illustration work that I no longer have to work in retail, but the pressure of it is somewhat taking the enjoyment out of something that I actually love to do.
I understand now why people say to not make your hobby into your job. Drawing has stopped being a hobby, and has started just being something that I hope will soon be able make me money. I think the problem is that, I’ve forgotten that I do actually enjoy being creative. And maybe the reason that I feel uninspired and lack creativity is because I’m forcing the creativity out of me with the pressure to be ‘creative enough’ that my work is worth money. I no longer create because I like creating. I don’t just draw because I like it. I stopped writing blog posts because it seemed like a waste of my time. I don’t even write poems now simply because I like to write poems. Of course I still like doing it, but I won’t invest time into a poem unless I think the idea is strong enough that it’ll end up being worth publishing. I’ve stopped enjoying the process, and I’ve started to create purely for the end product, and judging the end product before I’ve even started. I won’t embark on something unless I think the end product will be worth my time. The problem arises of course when I never actually end up doing anything at all because I spend so much time contemplating whether or not something is worth my time that I never actually make anything.
The only creative hobby that I actively partake in now purely for enjoyment is photography. Photography is something I have never considered making my job, I don’t intend to make it my job. I’ve never invested in the most expensive or best equipment. When I take photos I never try overly hard to make them ‘good’. I’ve never put astronomical amounts of effort into the photos I take. It’s not about the end product, it’s about enjoying the process. I just enjoy looking at and experiencing the world and capturing the things I find interesting. That’s all it was ever about. And somewhere along the line, drawing stopped being about that. Firstly, because it was about drawing things good enough to get good grades, and then it transitioned into being about drawing things good enough to make money. The thing is, of course, that I’m going to end up far more successful if I just do what I like. If I just inject my passion into everything I do.
I feel like it’s easy to forget the reason I chose this path to begin with. Yes, because I’m good at it. But also because I enjoy it. I want to be an illustrator, an artist, a writer, because I love it! But I’m sucking the love out of it by putting all this unnecessary pressure on myself, instead of just taking it one step at a time and enjoying the process. Amazing products and end results will develop on their own if I’m spending the time enjoying the process, because that’s when the best ideas will come out. These things can’t be forced.
The challenge, of course, will now be to work on my mindset towards creating, and to catch myself in the act if ever I’m approaching something the wrong way. I suppose, as much as I want to enjoy the process of building and growing the life I want, it’s frustrating, especially with the influence of social media, because I can see so many people already living the life I want to be living. So maybe one way I could tackle this is to distance myself from that type of media. The first step, I think is sitting down and having an enjoyable couple hours writing this 🙂 I’ve always viewed this blog as something I’m doing for me, and not for anyone else. I’ve never cared how many people read it, if anyone at all. I just enjoyed recording my thoughts on things and documenting my creative process and evolution. It seemed like it would be a nice thing to look back on. I haven’t regularly posted on here in over a year, and ever stopping was definitely a mistake. So I suppose if I start implementing more things like this back into my life: journalling, sketch-booking, more photography, it may naturally encourage me to get back into the mindset of enjoying creating for the enjoyment of creating.
I think it’s important to realise that life only happens one day at a time, and I can’t snap my fingers and magically end up ‘where I want to be’ in the blink of an eye. I feel it’s important to acknowledge that everyone moves at their own pace, and I am exactly where I’m meant to be at this moment in time. And besides, ‘where I want to be’ is more of an illusion of a vague idea than anything else. It isn’t made up of anything concrete. So to me it seems like it would be a much better idea to ignore that completely and just have fun where I am now. After all, it’s just as important to enjoy and appreciate the process of growing as a person, as it is to enjoy the process of creating.
And finally, to end off this train of thought, please enjoy some of these photos I had fun taking recently 🙂