Trust the Process

There are many pros and cons to owning your own creative business. One of my favorite pros is the community and networking that goes on within the creative community online. I have had the pleasure of meeting many other creatives through my work and a common theme with people with they're first starting out is the pressure of being "established." I wanted to talk about this, the stresses of being a new artist and how it is all part of the process (along with sharing some candid moments from my own process over the last 4 years). 


Now for me? I was lucky though I didn't know it at the time. When it comes to art, I am completely self taught, so the pressure of needing to find my creative self, my style, my niche, etc. was nonexistent. When I first started sharing my art, I had zero expectations for anything to come of it. The very first posts I made were very candid. 

This sketchbook was from 2014 and I just drew random things to fill up the page with a sharpie  marker.

This was one of my first sketchbooks from 2014 and I just drew random shapes and words until I filled up the page. 


A lot of my nights were spent painting just to have some "me" time after my children had fallen asleep. I vividly remember pulling my table into the living room, right in front of the tv and painting whatever I was watching at the time. As you can see here, the movie of this particular night was Say Anything.





I have to thank my kids too. It was very important for me to create with them and for them. I wanted them to have a creative outlet that they could always turn to and also know that I was there with them to help anyway I could. We did all sorts of projects together. Here you will see a big coloring sheet I made for them, a treasure map and some leaves we spent one afternoon painting together. Can you tell which one is mine? :P




Clearly when I look back at these snapshots, I can see that a "style" was coming together... but that was never my goal. I just made things to make them. I was not trying to impress anyone or sell anything. I wanted to express myself, I wanted to make cool stuff to show my husband, I wanted to make memories with my kids. 

Everything kind of changed once I took this ecourse with Lisa Congdon. 


Jack even got in on the action with me. 


I will admit, seeing her incredible creations was a little overwhelming. I did have a moment where I thought to myself, "this is probably just going to be a hobby for me. There is no way I will ever be able to create things as great as she does."  We all have our moments, right? However, at one point in the course, she said something that just hit me. I don't remember the direct quote so forgive me... she said "everything you want to draw is just a line or a circle." How could it BE SO SIMPLE!? I don't know what happened exactly, but after that, I created more and I haven't really stopped since. At that point though, I was still just creating to create (and clearly listening to Daughter while making this next piece)




Around 2015, I got a job at a coffee shop here in town. The shop, along with serving up top notch coffee, also has a shop section where they feature and sell the work of countless artists and makers from around the country. My boss at the time was very supportive of my artistic endeavors. She was one of the first people to say I should create more, one of the first people to agree to sell my pieces in her store, the first person to hang my art as a featured artist of the month in the cafe. All of this stemmed from one of the posts I shared on Instagram. She apparently saw it and fell in love with it. This was that post... 


I am internally screaming, this piece was a mess.

Looking back on this piece, I can see what I thought I was doing lol but evidently, so could she. She loved it and eventually offered me shelf and wall space to showcase and sell my handmade cards and paintings. Every time one of my cards sold, I was beyond shocked and excited. 


You can clearly see the difference between the first painting and the finished product. 


Of course, there were bumps along the way. I was creating consistently now and I had expectations. People liked my art, I liked that people liked my art, I wanted to make more art for people to like. Everyone has those off days though so I was patient with myself. I do not know why I was patient with myself, it is very out of character for me, but I was and I am so glad I was. 




Eventually things started to come together in a more cohesive way. I learned to scan in my paintings and edit them digitally. I lettered more and made them into digital files to sell on places like redbubble. 



My process was no process. I made things to make myself happy, to feel like I had some part of myself leftover from my in college and before children. Painting and creating was a very important part of my post partum healing. It was something I clung to for sanity and solace, not likes and sales. Plus, if I am being honest, I didn't see myself as a professional artist. That changed in late 2015. 





When I started the club, my creativity shifted. I started making posts filled with honestly and vulnerability. I started talking about my struggles with mental health. Once I made that shift, I was overwhelmed with support from people who connected with my story and wanted more.  More art and more importantly... products. I often tell people that in the beginning, I was just running to try to catch up with my own art and message. I had no idea how to make enamel pins. I had no idea how to make clean digital designs, let alone format them so they can be printed onto mugs and shirts. I had no clue as to price points, marketing, websites to use for selling things, etc. I was terrified, but I got to work. 

4 years later, we have mugs and pins and so much more. 



I guess what I am trying to say is... trust the process, whatever that looks like for you. Go in humble. Remember why you love to make art in the first place and keep that front and center the entire time. There is no sense in feeling the pressure of having it all figured out right here and now. No good comes from stressing yourself out unnecessarily. There is something to be gained from taking your time, learning along the way, having fun with what you're doing and creating for yourself. 

I did not start out with a set style. I did not start out producing clean images and graphics with top notch editing skills. I have no background in marketing or business or even graphic design. When I was asked to speak to SCAD graduates in Savannah, Georgia (again, unreal) I told them the same things and followed it up with, you guys are already starting out with a much vaster skillset than I will ever have, so lean in! 

Whatever your craft, whatever you goal, whatever your plan... you will get where you want to go with it. Don't give up, don't pressure yourself for perfection. Do take your time, do give yourself some grace, do take joy in the process of creation. That way, every little milestone is a pleasant surprise that you can relish and use to motivate you toward new things. 

That's my advice anyway :)  

4 comments

  1. This was so inspirational! I loved reading it ♡♥💕 I'm so glad I'm subscribed to your blog so I get an email when you post something new!

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    1. I am so glad you're here, thank you for being so supportive <3

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