Artist Non-Negotiables

You won’t always feel enthusiastic or passionate about your craft.”

That’s a little tidbit I don’t recall any of my art instructors informing me or any of my fellow art students. Neither can I recall ever reading about it in the countless articles of advice I’ve read for artists over the years. Yet it’s what I’ve come to learn. The truth is the artist’s path isn’t an easy one and some days you won’t feel passionate or enthusiastic about it.
I’ve noticed that some of the people I know personally have a rather romanticize idea about what I do. Just recently I was talking to a long time friend of mine who said to me “You’re lucky, you’re doing what you love to do.” I don’t know about the luck but I could tell he was under the impression assuming that I probably wake up ever morning beaming with joy that I get to draw everyday. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Overall, yes, I do experience a sense of satisfaction at the thought that I’m making a life doing what I enjoy doing but that satisfaction varies from day to day. Some days I’m happy and content especially when sales are steady and I’m not worried about getting my bills paid. Some days I don’t feel anything either way. Then some days I’m thoroughly frustrated and have to push through to get anything creative done. But then there are those days were I give serious thought to saying to hell with it all to go get me a desk job. These fluctuations in my passion for my craft have often left me feeling conflicted and baffled. With the plethora of self development information out there, I’ve always been under the impression that if you have the opportunity to spend your life doing something you love you will wake up every morning beaming with enthusiasm and ready to take on the world. Truth is, most of the time I’m on an emotional roller coaster with constant highs and lows. …and that’s okay. But nobody tells you that. You see, for the longest I’ve been under the impression that I’m doing something wrong because I’m not a walking ball of sunshine everyday. I get conflicted inside and wonder if I should be doing it at all. But one day I realized that the problem wasn’t that some days I lack enthusiasm and passion, the problem was that I thought it was problem. There’s nothing wrong with having bad days because trust me, you will have them. You will have days where you’re bored. You’ll have days where you can’t think of anything to create. There will be projects where you will be all excited about in the beginning only to have that excitement dissipate halfway through. And there will be days where you just end up vegged out on the couch with junk food and Netflix. And all of that is perfectly normal. A trick I’ve learned to get through these ups and downs is to make sure I set some non-negotiables at the foundation of my craft. These are key commitments that I keep above all else. For me there are three of them:

1. To do a little bit of something pertaining to my craft each day. That can be working on a drawing for 30 minutes, writing up a blog post or promoting my work, so long as I do something everyday. It’s easy to get wrapped up in other aspects of our lives and put your craft off until the next day. But I’ve seen how putting your craft off can easily become a habit. The only way to counter that is to develop the habit of working on your craft everyday.

2. To always finish at least 85% of my projects. Now if it’s a commission it must be completed but on personal projects sometimes they just don’t turn out or somewhere along the way I lose interest. Most of the time I push through it but every once in a while there are some piece I just can’t bring myself to complete. In this case I just let it go and move on to something I’m more interested in but only if I’ve been consistent in finishing at least nine of my previous projects.

3. No matter what, always do my best. I’ve learned that I can’t let my day to day feelings dictate how I approach my craft, so I need some guiding principles to get me through the ups and downs.

Being an artist isn’t some never ending purgatory but it’s not always glorious either. It just is what it is. Some days your creative energy just flows, your work turns out far better than you imagine and you make a few good sales. And then some days you find yourself on your living room floor throwing a temper tantrum, crying to the heavens wondering why you were cursed to be an artist. Okay, maybe that’s just me but no matter what, always do your best. 😊

About This Weekend

Saginaw Chippewa Annual PowWow

I can’t say I got any work done this weekend. So I don’t have any finished drawings or anything new to show. Instead this weekend my in laws and I took a trip to the Saginaw Chippewa Annual Powwow. This is kind of a thing for me since I like to get out and experience something different every now and then.
Last time I went to the powwow was back in 2016. This time I invited my hubby’s family along for the adventure. We all had a good ol’ time despite the husband and I ending up quite exhausted from cleaning house, preparing food, driving (it was a two hour hike both ways) and grilling food once we got back. The family has decided that they want to make this a yearly thing. My hubby says I’ve created a monster. Oh well, it’s all good to get out and expand our horizons. I guess we’ll all be doing it on a yearly basis now. 😊

Friendship

A little good news came my way this morning. My dear hubby found his best friend from childhood on Facebook today. He’s been searching for him for some years now, wondering, fearing that something had happened to him. But fortunately, now he knows that at least his dear friend is alive and appears to be doing well. Even though he has been downplaying the effect that his best friend’s absence has had on his life, I know deep down, he has been troubled by it. To see the relief in his eyes warms me and I feel happy for him.
I think culturally we need to give more honor to our friendships. Our friendships can effect us so deeply. I’ve always joked around and said “Friendships are no different than marriage…minus the sex and bills.”
We love our friends. Some friendships last into old age. Some last for only a moment. Some friendships are a refuge of peace and some are filled with ruckus and silliness. Some end tragically. Some end dramatically. And yet some fade quietly only to leave those involved wondering what happened.
It’s sad that we don’t give as much honorary significance to our friendships as we do our romantic relationships. Friendships are their own unique love stories filled with laughter, fights and tears. There are memorable moments, close calls, hidden scars, buried hatchets, secrets and skeletons. There are parts of ourselves that we may share with no one other than that beloved best friend, yet for such closeness we can turn around and be so frivolous with our friendships. We toss them aside so easily through the act of avoidance. Unlike romantic relationships, where an end needs to be declared or an explanation is warranted, no such thing is required for friendships. People just stop talking or stop hanging out. And in the wake of such break ups there’s no support. To where or to whom do you turn when your heart is broken from a jilted friendship? What support groups are there for when the one person who has known you since the sandbox no longer cares to have you in their life? We may bare our bodies to many lovers in a lifetime but it is often our best friend to whom we bare our souls, yet we have no special ceremonies to mark these relationships, no process or protocol to signal their end or any support system to grieve their dissolution. We walk around conflicted as how to express the significance of our friends in our lives and quietly bare the anguish at the loss of those friendships.
If nothing more comes from my husband finding his old friend on Facebook, I at least know he can carry on in peace knowing that his friend is okay. It’s a chapter in his life he can give some closure to and to that I’m grateful.

OMG UK! Feeling Bummed

Okay, I thought that I wouldn’t do another post until Sunday, after we’ve all had time to recover a bit from our turkey comas but I couldn’t wait and had to type up this post in hopes that maybe someone has some answers. So here’s my question, did the Brexit have an effect on shipping items from the US to the UK?

Today I had the wonderful surprise of shipping a three ounce item to the UK at three times the cost of what I’ve previously paid for shipping similar items using International First Class mail. I found myself fussing with the postal clerk because I just knew she charged me wrong. But that was indeed the price and the only explanation I could come up with is that maybe Brexit has something to do with it. If this is the case then this really puts me in a dilemma with selling my art to lovely fans in the United Kingdom, who make up one fourth of my followers and collectors. Now I either have to increase my shipping rates to compensate for the cost or not sell to the UK at all. I really don’t want to stop selling to people in the UK so I’ll be upping my shipping cost but this really sucks. It’s frustrating enough that postal costs keep going up and changing every year here in the US, now I also have to keep up on how political issues in other countries may effect me selling my art to international fans. Feeling rather bummed about this. 😒