I get jealous...and then i ramble


Sometimes i feel like i want two completely different things out of my art.

I see artists who focus in on something- let's say tigers- and really explore tigers. They do 100s of paintings of just tigers, but each manages to feel unique. I get jealous that they are so focused and have these cohesive works that look great together.

Then i see artists who manage to explore all different things all the time but still find a binding thread that is their style. I get jealous that they feel so free to draw/paint whatever the heck they want and it all still looks great together.

Sometimes I think there are two sides to the "being an illustrator/artist" coin:
A. being an artist who sells prints, participates in gallery shows, and occasionally works on commissioned projects. Focusing on what they want to create.
B. being an artist who focuses more on commissioned works, editorial projects, and works with publishers and other clients. Focusing on what others want them to create.

i don't think one side is right and one is wrong, or that one is easier or more satisfying than the other. I get jealous of the people who know and love which side of the coin they are on and/or can move seamlessly from one side to the other. 

so...where does that leave me? I straddle the two sides quite uncomfortably. There are no seamless flips here...and when i am on one side sometimes i feel absolutely crushed by it. Here's the deal- i get TONS of ideas- seriously, it can be overwhelming how many project/illustration ideas i have floating around at once. I guess it's better than having no ideas, but when each new idea seems better than the last one- where do you get started? and how long do you commit to an idea before moving on? i think there's something to be said for really exploring a theme/image- working on a series is great for tweaking ideas/style and for really pushing yourself beyond your first go. But i get bored sometimes and then i get 5 more ideas that seem like better options...so i move on. Or i get sidetracked with a commission and never really return to a more personal project i was working on...so i move on.

The whole floral/animal thing going on in my etsy shop might make you think that i'm good at focusing- but it is a struggle to keep doing those. I think i have about 5-6 more in me (how do i not have an owl and a panda flowerized yet?!) but then i'll need to take a LONG break.

So...what do i do? where do i put the focus?


meeralee said...

hey katie, i just read this post and i completely empathize. it's a battle i fight daily, and just now i'm starting to realize what it is i want to get out of my art. i've been widely accepting commissions for years now, and it's made me put my personal work on the back burner. as someone who also holds a full time job, it's nearly impossible for me to accommodate enough time for work, personal projects, and full-time freelance jobs. i've begun accepting SELECT commissions only: ones that i want to do, will enjoy doing, or will help me explore my style as an artist. i think the biggest hindrance to producing work is indecisiveness, which i have plenty of. if you can make a list of what you really want to get out of your work, it may help you choose a side -- or at least straddle both sides -- more efficiently, and in away that leave your heart fuller.

k.v. said...

meera- you're definitely right about indecisiveness hindering productivity! It can be paralyzing! my list of what i want to get out of my work tends to change quite a bit depending on the lens i'm looking at it through and whether or not i just paid the bills- but i do feel like i'm getting better at focusing the list and saying no to commissions that will suck the life out of me. it's quite the journey!
thanks for your insightful comment,

Candice Hartsough McDonald said...

I have similar problems. It is really hard to stay on task with my own projects. It helps if I can find some sort of deadline for myself, though. Like planning a gallery show to hang 6 months from now, or that I need to have x many new prints to take with me to shows.

k.v. said...

candice- thanks for the comment! deadlines are huge for me too...i dont think i could stay on track without them. finding those longer-term ones (6 months+) is something i want to get better at for sure.
thanks again,

Mary Pullen | Between the Leaves said...

i have a theory that those artists who fall into 1 or 2 are just very good at seeming like they are 1 or 2!

i think that the majority of true creatives are an ideas whirl pool with varying degrees of ability to filter these ideas....i'm certainly in a whirling pool of ideas most of the time :-)

ps your work is inspiring and i love the cheerful bright tone

k.v. said...

thanks mary! i am now going to use the phrase 'whirling pool of ideas' as often as possible!

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