I think a lot about other people’s artistic styles–about how I wished I’d thought of what they’ve created. Or maybe I wish my stuff were as cool as I perceive theirs to be. Maybe my work is cool and maybe it isn’t. I’m not writing this down to garner praises or sneers for what I do. At this particular minute, I’m not even sure what it means for my stuff to be cool.
As with different kinds of style, it seems that craft work can be a bit faddish. Things look nifty and everybody wants to jump on the bandwagon. Looking at artist’s magazines really emphasizes this. I love them and look forward to my monthly trip to B&N to sit and troll the mags while Liza plays with the trains. I even buy one occasionally. What I’ve discovered from looking those over for the past year and cruising 100+ blogs a day is that there a whole lot of people doing very similar things. I’m not saying that what they are working on is bad, I’m just saying I’m starting to see the cycle. And oh boy, does the internet feed that beast.
Here’s the thing: when I look at what’s swirling around out there, I realize that my stuff doesn’t look like that.
A few weeks ago I found a set of videos of a well known artist journaler explaining her process step by step. (Incidentally this is the same blog where I first found out about artist journaling.) I was really excited to see how Teesha made her own notebooks out of sheets of watercolor paper. That bit of info solved a problem about my own journal that I’d been working on for a while.
I immediately got a sheet of watercolor paper and, just for kicks, decided to follow her process. Wow, was that hard! Staying inside of her lines was nearly impossible for me. And what I ended up with only bears a passing resemblance to what she does. As a copy of her work it stinks. But what a learning experience it was for me! And hard! So much harder for me than my own process. So I came away armed with a solution to a problem and also a bit of security in what I do on my own.
So my angst comes down to this: I want to grow as an artist. I want to find my own style and be more comfortable with it, be willing and able to claim that style. I want to proclaim, “I am an artist!” And I never feel as if I’m quite ready to do that. How can I call myself an artist when I don’t have a body of work? I can’t stay focused on one thing. I want to try every little thing that catches my eye. (Maybe that’s where my contribution to the fad kicks in.) One week, I’m all about ATCs. The next week, I’m all about artist journaling. I make notebooks and cross-stitch. I want to try traditional bookmaking and printmaking. I want to do better graphic design. I want to start drawing again like I did in college. I want to figure out how to combine some of this stuff and cook up something awesome. I’ve got so many irons in the fire, I don’t know which one is hot.
After the holidays, I’m gonna sit down and come up with a plan. Christmas has depleted my Etsy store stock. I’ve been making custom-order notebooks for a couple of people for Christmas and also making a few personal gifts. I want to get my store up and running ASAP after the first of the year, and then carve out some time to start working on all this other stuff.
Maybe all of this is just part of what an artist experiences. The desire to figure our our artistic selves. The search for the idea that opens up our life’s work. The time spent working on every little thing until the big thing grabs our attention and doesn’t let go. Maybe I’m more of an artist than I’ve ever given myself credit for before.