I don’t know if other people relate to this, but I feel I’ve come to a point in my creative career where I’ve realised why my work up and until this point has been quote, unquote “shit”.
The last couple of months for me creatively have been extremely experimental. From various mental breakdowns, I've found myself confronted with multiple problems in trying to resolve my direction in where I want to head, with my career.
To sum up, I was attempting being a lettering artist; until I got very bored of isolating myself to one particular style. Then I started to explore illustration again which felt like a breath of fresh air. As I would expand my influences, I started taking in more “graphic design” inspired references.
I felt like a lot of what I was trying to do when I started studying design was finally coming to fruition. Until I had a dose of failure. I was working on a particular piece and felt the limitations of my skillset. I remember sitting at my desk for over 5 hours going around in circles trying to make this piece work. I finally got to a point where I accepted the limitations of my abilities and realised I had a lot to learn.
Which made me feel like a fraud. It clarified why everything I had worked on to date felt like a struggle. It was during the making of this piece that I realised the skillset I was lacking.
This notion of sadness overcame me and carried on for about a month. I started adopting a very victimising mindset. “I thought I was decent all this time, how have I been blindsided for so long”. Which made me realise a lot of what I was pursuing, and the certain high’s I’ve experienced during my career had just been “ego” driven.
I was too scared to try things I wasn’t good at because it would hurt my ego. I was too afraid to fail because it would hurt my ego. I only wanted to work on things I would be exceptional at as it was comforting for my ego.
I've been realising, that I was living in such a comfort bubble that I hadn’t grown as much as I wanted to in specific areas. Specifically for me, I never wanted to dive into the world of illustrator and photoshop to learn tools that would expand my horizons, because I was too arrogant to try and learn things I didn’t know.
Which looking at my work, it’s been a lot of the reason why I feel my work is so flat and one dimensional. The irony of all of this is I’d been craving and wanting to do exceptional pieces. My risk adverse and non-adventurous mindset has been holding me back.
In various contexts for creative projects, we can quickly become afraid of expanding and trying new things. It can be very comforting to stick to a formula to yield results that are within our comfort zone.
But if we don’t take risks, and journey deep into the unknown, then we don’t grow, we stay stuck in a cage. As creatives, we should all become more comfortable in doing things we don’t know how to do. We may come to a place where the results are incredibly unexpected. More often then not unexpected results are often when creative work is at it's most valuable.
I want to encourage creative people to put time aside to work on something you're entirely intimidated by and that you think is impossible. Having time to work on something where there isn’t any pressure to say deliver things by a specific time or has meticulous expectations, helps us expand and become more in tune with our creative intuition. Put some time aside this week to let your curiosity take you away into the unknown.