A Reflection On 2018
I closed out 2017 with the statement that I had a good feeling about 2018 (I like the number 8 so it felt like a lucky year was ahead). Last December I was feeling strongly about needing things to change in the new year. I was beginning to accept that I was no longer happy working as a designer and I started having clarity that the one thing that I had been running from (since 2010), was the one thing I needed to pursue—art. If you’ve been around here for a bit, you here know my story so please hang with me while I dive back into it for a little...
Whenever I am asked why or when I chose to be an artist, my honest answer is that it was never a choice—it has always been a part of me. I remember drawing when I was little and feeling calmed by it. It came natural to me, it was my thing, and I embraced it. When it got time to deciding about college—what to study and where to go—it’s almost odd that I didn’t jump right to the conclusion to study art. To me, being an artist didn’t seem like the “smart” choice to make (though admittedly somehow my teenage brain’s idea of studying business to start a coffee shop was less risky). I kept switching what I should study—from business to social work to art therapy to graphic designer back to business to psychology and then finally landed on art. After that, I wish I could say I never looked back. Off to college I went to study painting. Once there, I continued with my uncertainty by switching to study ceramics. I was halfway through college when I was about to switch to be a printmaker (and also minor in environmental science) when I realized I wasn’t fully ready to make any decisions on what I wanted to be. I was scared out of being an artist at that point—hating the school work (forced creating) and the constant comparison to my peers. I transfers schools and took on graphic design. It felt safe. I could still be creative but I had a better chance of supporting myself after college.
I graduated college and was unable to get a permanent in-house job as a graphic designer. When I look back, I know it was from my lack of drive to actually pursue it in that setting. I had no choice but to be a freelancer. Things started to look good though. I was working on my own and getting in-house contracts working with large clients. But I missed being able to freely create. To fix this, I started my own design business and started to work on my own products as well as branding for small businesses. I felt like I was finding my footing more and more and embracing the designer life. I continued this path until this year when I realized I still hadn’t found the happiness I was looking for in my career.
It is funny how fear can control us. Or how we can find a state of confidence in things that don’t necessarily line up with who we are. Deep down, I knew all along what my purpose was. But I was in denial. I was scared. I was confused by all the mixed messages of the starving artist. While I know myself to be someone who has always understood who I am on a personal level, I struggled accepting my passions as my career. I needed time to rediscover art. I needed to mature, reflect, travel, work, and more. I would be lying if I said I didn’t laugh a bit when I think about how I am back to where I started just about ten years later. Normally that would be a bad thing. But for me it means I’ve returned home from a long journey that was full of lessons—lessons that have made me a better artist.
It would be easy for me to say I regret some of my career decisions. That I wish I could have been more together and stuck with art throughout it all. Sometimes I get frustrated with myself or upset. During these times, I remind myself that we each have our own paths and none is right. We have to keep our minds open, make mistakes, learn lessons. Sometimes we need to take the long scenic route. Without my graphic design background, I know I would not be the person or artist I now am. It has taught me some obvious skills that any designer learns like being able to design my own brand and website. But it also taught me how to look at things in a different way.
The conclusion to finally leave design was hard but also really simple. It was also time.
By the summer, I had fully transitioned to working as an artist full-time. I have never felt more whole or at peace with my place in life. I know that this is going to be an upward battle. Comparatively, art is not an easy path. But I wholeheartedly believe that if you are doing what you love with all the strength and passion that it deserves, it will lead to great things.
With all that, 2018 was a transformative year for my career. I spent my time creating and planting strong roots to help myself continue down this path of growth. It has been a beautiful time, a trying time, days of tears, days of celebration, but through it all, it was one of the best years of my life.
And as the year comes to a close, I want to thank all you who continuously show up to support me. Without the help of others as special as you, I could not be where I am today. It means the world.
I wish you all nothing but the best and all the goodness that is deserved for you in 2019!