Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Protecting Creative Freedom

I often catch up on my blog reading while I'm waiting to pick up kids from school. (Thank heaven for the Google Reader app on my phone.)  Yesterday I read this post: To the Second Floor on the Balzer Designs blog by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer.  (This is one of my favorite blogs btw.)  If you have a minute read it, it made me think and reflect on my own experiences and realize how much I have learned about myself and how my views on my own creative process have changed over the years.

Years back I owned a fairly successful retail scrapbooking business.  Just being a business owner wasn't enough for me.  I wanted to be right in the thick of it all.  I set out to get my work published, be on manufacturer design teams, design my own products, head up my own design team for my site, and I scrapbooked my guts out and did quite well with it.  I loved the whole creative process.  But there came a point in time when suddenly it was only about creating to promote products and make money.  There was a lot of pressure on me to make more money.  I accepted that pressure from someone else, took it upon myself and owned it, even though it was not really how I felt or what I really wanted.  I just wanted to please that other person in my life, make them proud, make them accept and love me.  That is when it all came crashing down.  Every little stick of a life I had spent years building in to something was gone.  My business failed, my  marriage failed, my creativity beat feet without hesitation, it was all over.  I was burnt out and wanted to get away from all of it just as fast as I could go.  The pressure turned out to be too much.

It took me a couple years to even get myself to a place I could start over.  To allow myself to know I was worthy of being creative, to allow myself to embrace the fact that what I really really really want is to be an artist, and to understand that it is my responsibility to protect and nurture that.

As I read Julie's post, I couldn't help but feel grateful for the shift in myself to absolutely, at all costs, protect my freedom in the creative process.  If you've ever visited my Etsy shop you'll notice that I don't stick to just one style or medium.  I'm all over the place.  But that is genuinely who I am.  I love so many things, I have so many interests, and I love to express them all.  I've also learned to not ever look at something I made as a "failure".  Back in the scrapbooking days I had many layouts published that I really didn't love.  That taught me that nothing creative is ever a failure, regardless if it gets published or not.  I'm much more patient with myself these days, letting whatever comes out be what it is, knowing that even if I don't love it, it's a part of me that needs to run it's course and it will pass into something I feel better about later on down the road.  And I appreciate and respect all of it as a learning process.  Creative Growth is what I call it.
Now granted, I'm still new to making a career out being an artist, I don't have the time constraints or the requests that Julie does.  But I'm very very careful about getting sucked into the art "fame" trap.  I haven't submitted anything for publication yet.  It just doesn't feel right yet, someday it will.  I haven't searched out a design team.  And right now I'm only teaching art to kids.  My Etsy shop isn't a huge success, yet.  But I was very excited to sell a canvas over the weekend.  And that seems to be where my focus is right now.  On my shop, my blog, and teaching the kids.  I'm being patient, picking my battles based on what feels right, and easing my way back into the creative world very carefully.  Because for me to be successful it has to be about the art and the creativity, not about the money or the validation.  If I'm true to myself the money and validation will come, if I'm not...the creativity will be gone.  And isn't the creativity the center of all we do as artists?  For me the answer is YES.

Have a great day everyone!  :)

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