What is the Point of Making Art?

What is the Point of Making Art?

A cat lays on top of a book

As you all know, I'm on a creative sabbatical (of sorts). One where I wake up when I want and do a creative activity of my choosing with no real rhyme or reason.

This is terrifying!

Do you guys want to know how big of a dick I can be to my inner artist? Well, I'll enlighten you. For the past ten years, I've been a graphic designer. I started out in print design and slowly worked my way to web design and finally, user experience design. I always knew I wanted to be an artist but painting or visual art wasn't good enough. I used to tell people that I went into graphic design "because I'm creative but I wanted to make money, unlike people that paint for a living." Every time I say some stupid shit, it comes back to me in some way. This particular line of stupidity took ten years but it's here and it's so much a slap in the face! I can't tell you how often I ripped on the careers of visual artists – my only argument being that they don't make money.

Jokes on me, because selling my soul to corporate America for a fat check sure didn't work.

Now I'm back to square one, little Adrianne, the one who knew she wanted to be an artist by the time she was five. The one who only knew art as what you make with your hands, at an easel, whenever you want. Five year old A didn't think of commercial design*, over-air conditioned corporate office buildings, ten days of vacation and moronic supervisors. Only now I'm not little anymore. A big piece of that creative ballsy-ness is gone – buried. It's so much harder to create art now. Why? One reason is self doubt. Seth got me a great book for Christmas called Sunday Sketching. It's by an artist, Christoph Neimann, who struggles with the same mindfucks that I do – reading his book on the couch last weekend made me feel like I had a friend out there who feels the same way.

A page of a book that reads "I'm Not Good Enough"

This page resonated pretty well, especially since lately, I measure my art's success based on social media "likes," which is a pretty poor way to do anything. "Likes" are fine and all, but they are quick gestures, sometimes with thought and sometimes without. It's not fair to measure the work I create by likes or number of followers. Putting work out there even once per week is VERY difficult. Fear holds me back from creating every day. Ideally, I would paint in my sketchbook every day, because (as Christoph writes) practice makes perfect. But I do not do this. I'm lucky if I do 2 sketchbook paintings a week. Often, whilst I paint, I think to myself:

Image of a page in a book that reads "My work is irrelevant and soon I'll be broke"

When I turned to this page, I legit laughed out loud. THIS IS EXACTLY HOW I FEEL. It actually holds me back from creating because I truly cannot see a means to an end. I had a near relapse a few days ago and asked a friend about possibly freelancing at their company for awhile, even though I know it's not what I want to do, but the money would be quick and easy. And I still might do this, to quench the money fears while I focus on making art. It's a lot to ask of oneself to go all-in on something when you've been trained your whole life to save money. For me, a freelance gig (6 weeks or less, part time) would be the perfect way for me to keep the cash flowing, but allow me the time to explore WTF I'm doing as an artist.

Anyway, money took me off track again, the bastard! What I'm trying to do is worry less about the relevance of the art and focus on creating it anyway. Putting art blindly into the world WILL yield some return, I feel it deep inside my gut. The once-loud voice of my younger years is still down in there, whispering at me, so all I really need to do is listen but I'm not always so great at that.

Speaking of putting art out there and it coming back around – two weeks ago, an artist coalition reached out to me, asking if I'd want to be part of an art show they are putting on in January. My initial reaction was pure excitement – YES! Someone noticed me and what I'm doing and better yet, they like it!

Joy was short lived, because then I realized, shit, I don't have much art to sell or display. I also don't have a brand for myself. I don't have Square on my phone for credit card payments. And I have less than a month to figure it out! Not only were the logistics an issue, but the nagging fear that I'd be an imposter there, anyway. The rude voice in my head that tells me I'm not a real artist so why even go to the show.

Logistics got the better of me so I passed on the January show but was invited to the April show if I'm so inclined. I think I'll go for it, plus it gives me more time to make some shit. AAAjkfhajhdflajhfkjegkvh nejrkjghjsjfgsldjkfahf lsdsafsfkda ( <---- this is how my mind really works sometimes, fyi.

I wanted to share my insecurities with the Internet today, so thanks for listening and accompanying me on this crazy journey that I never thought I'd be on. xoxo

*Please note: I am not intending to shit on graphic design. Design has gotten me this far and will always be a big part of my life, even though sometimes I disagree with where the field is going. I have mad respect for all my designer friends out there and will continue to. Much love!

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