November 2018

I’ve recently made the leap from full time employee to self-employed artist. Good move? I have yet to find out. Ask me in again in a few months after the Christmas Markets. Since I left my job, I’ve felt a combination of excitement, stress, enjoyment, anxiety, fulfilment, anxiety, worry, motivation, anticipation, anxiety, hope and so on and so forth. Whether these feelings have somehow morphed into a worthwhile and profitable product is yet to be tested.  I’ve sold lots of my artworks over the years so I know there’s a market out there somewhere! I just hope we find one another.

I’m trying hard to be environmentally conscious and to reduce the negative impact my business has on the world’s ecosystem.  I’ve chosen to use plant based plastic for my greeting cards so that instead of it being thrown away and ending up in landfill, it can be composted to break down into CO2, water and biomass. I’m using recycled card for the greeting cards, the majority of my frames are made in the UK and all my printing is sourced from local companies. The packing for protecting my products is mostly paper based (as much as possible) and I’m using paper bags instead of plastic bags. It’s a continual process of improvement but its small steps in the right direction.

Throughout my adolescent & adult life, I’ve held myself back time after time. Instead of pushing myself forward, I’d try my best to avoid attention.  I felt so crippled by self doubt and fear of rejection that I found the majority of social situations excruciating. The dread of judgment and of not being accepted or liked was overwhelming and even to this day still plagues me on the odd occasion. It’s a hard feeling to shake off.  I was that awkward kid who didn’t know what to say and would only participate in class if forced to. I found the concept of conversation between strangers utterly perplexing; I just couldn’t understand how people knew how to interact with each other. How did people spontaneously make conversation so easily? How did they know what to say? My mind would go blank if put on the spot and eventually I became convinced that my opinion didn’t matter, therefore there was no point sharing it. I managed to muddle my way through, managing on the most part not to get noticed by any mean-spirited person who might expose my insecurities. Thankfully I’ve come a long way in the last 5-7 years and I’m far happier in my own skin than I’ve ever been. I’ve accepted who I am and discovered that I’m OK.

I’m only writing this because I feel it’s important to share our experiences. It’s so easy to present ourselves as totally together, confident, cool-as-cucumber adults when in actual fact that’s just a facade. Our actual lives are more complex, more nuanced and complicated than we care to admit. I’m also sharing this as a form of catharsis. A way to try and shake off the old me, the negative part of myself that puts me down, tells me I can’t do things. Time will tell whether this new venture is viable or not but at least I’m giving it a go. That in itself feels pretty good, the feeling of being proactive.

Having given it a lot of thought, I can see I really have nothing to lose by giving this art malarkey a decent shot. I find it utterly terrifying, putting myself out there in this way but I can’t be controlled by fear forever. My pride may get dented if it fails and I may end up taking a while to pay back the loan I took out but to hell with it! I’ve been putting this off for a long time so it’s about time I give it a shot. Apparently it’s good to get out of our comfort zones…my comfort zone is so far gone now I can barely see it anymore.  I’ve always loved creating since I was knee high to a woodlouse, so if I can figure out a way to make it work as a career I’ll be happier than a Retriever in a river.

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