Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Creating A New Day

“If you build it, they will come.”

~Field of Dreams

Have you ever been in a situation where you weren’t sure if you could do something, but you knew people were kind of expecting you to, maybe even watching for it. So, you tried it, managed to do it with a fair amount of grace and elán, received some kind of external validation for it, and thought, “Wow. I did it! I managed to fool them into thinking I can do this, and I actually kind of did it too!”

I just realized that I put that one over on my very own self! I burrowed into my surreal li’l rabbit hole, played with some pretty colors, and managed to convince myself that I‘m an artist. I just kept making things until it clicked. As I type this, I’m looking at an array of birthday cards that I created, and I’m thinking, “Not bad… not bad at all… pretty damned good, in fact…” Within the past month, I’ve received orders for cards from people all over the place, people I would never have thought would order from me, even a couple people that I don’t know at all.

About a year and a half ago, when I was still in bondage to the corporate world, I made a card for a co-worker’s birthday. As my friend Bill signed the card, he admired my work. He kind of shook his head, and with that beautiful smirk of his said, “You’ve really got talent with this.” I kind of gave him the aw-shucks shrug, whereupon he leveled me with a more serious look and said, “Really. Can you picture yourself in a small studio? People are putting together cards that you’ve designed and you’re over in a sunny corner simply doing design work and nothing but design work?” I’m sure I blushed in all my sheepish glory (Bill’s one of the straightest shooters I know, so when he says stuff, I tend to listen and listen well.) He repeated, “Can you picture it? Can you see it? It’s there.” Uncomfortable with the internal squirm he was putting me through I said, “Oh sure. Yeah. That’ll be a good day. I‘d much rather be doing art than accounting.” But I didn’t really believe it. Nope. In my deep dark heart, I didn’t see it as anything more than a hobby. While I knew I had decent creative instinct, I didn’t believe that I had real talent.

Losing that job was just the cataclysmic event that I needed to shake my cage. No, it hasn’t been an easy year, but I know if the opportunity was still available, I’d still be working there. I’d be working there, making a card here and there for a friend’s birthday, and wishing I had more time for my creative life. As it is, I just mailed out two completed orders today. As the postal clerk calculated postage, I had an Aha Moment. I realized that I’d gotten out of my own way (finally!), that by ignoring my inner Doubt Demon, I was simply allowing myself to do what feels good, to do what feels natural to me. But here’s what really knocked me out of my shoes and sent my socks flying… I thought to myself… “Egads! I’m doing it! I’m making art for a living!” And then I kind of laughed to myself, because I realized that between my daily affirmation (“I am an Artist...”) and simply by creating something new every day, I’ve finally convince the most important person in the process. I’ve convinced myself. I can do this!

Initially I may have had to fool myself, but I believe it now. While it’s still not doing much more then putting milk on the cereal, it’s definitely in the process of becoming something bigger, and my work is being recognized. While I don’t yet get to simply design and let others do the grunt work, I do have a studio and a process and orders to fill, and yes, Bill… I can see it. I can do this. I’m an artist.

I hope you all have and use daily affirmations. It’s easy for us to believe negative things, especially the things we tell ourselves. The more we hear a thing, the more we believe it. So, why not tell yourself good things? It might sound silly at first, but eventually you’ll hear it enough that you’ll believe it. Trust me on that. I ought to know because…

I am an artist.

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