Dear diaryJuly 1, 2020
In case all the car ads didn’t give it away, it’s the end of another financial year (“EOFYs” I believe is the expensive marketing jingle they’ve all come up with). EOFYs, the time we madly race around looking for faded receipts as feeble offerings for the tax office.
I think we can all agree it’s been an odd year. There’s probably been little in the way of ups, and an overwhelming avalanche of downs. I started my full-time art business at the beginning of 2019, and this blog at the beginning of 2020. In this economic downturn I’m left wondering, “Is this art thing still a good idea?” “What’s next?” “Can I still fit into my real clothes?”
Only having definite answers to the latter, I realised no matter what happens next I will always love to draw, and I will always do my best to make time for it.
In my reflections, I’ve collated the following musings about my art journey thus far in the hopes it provides you with a momentary giggle, or at least a feeling of outsider pity as you observe my rollercoaster of emotions. It may even leave you seeing the upside to a traditional job.
Note, I don’t know why I have chosen to write these as diary entries, as though I’m some sort of 18th century Captain Birdseye with a leather-bound log book and an ostrich feather ink pen, but I guess that is what I am, captain of my ship with a cat for a shoulder parrot.
Captain’s entry late 2018: Someone left the gate open
Late 2018 and I’m making my escape from institutional corporate life.
In packing my desk, I recall a fellow colleague once telling me it was possible to “hide files inside cubicle partitions, should the need ever arise…wink, wink” . Did anyone hide files? I can neither confirm nor deny, although one day in my hunt for said elusive partitioned files, I found a mouldy lettuce sandwich from 1998.
I choose a more balanced approach with MY office clear out: half in the shredder, half in a box labelled “stuff”. I smugly dust my hands as years worth of project emails are amassed into one mammoth bandwidth crushing email and sent to the records department.
I skip out the door avoiding the customary displays of appreciation. Namely, the four dollar farewell Coles mud cake, the envelope heaving with 5-cent pieces and paper clips gathered from co-workers pockets, and the oversized novelty card where someone inevitably writes, “Take me with you”.
What now? With nothing to show but festering psychological wounds from years of service, how will I recover?
Drawing! I’ve always done it. I’ve even sold some. I shall do more of it.
Captain’s entry Jan 2019: Ugh, what have I done
Can I really make a go of this? I guess there’s no harm in trying.
2019 I create my website. Easy? No. Uploading a plethora of photos of my artwork is more arduous than I had imagined. Like most things, what looks good on camera fails miserably on a big screen computer. Bad angles, bad lighting, bad editing. This hurts. I wish I had begun my side hustle while I was still at that pesky day-job.
As I own no flowing cultish tunics or hemp pants, I’m also sorely lacking the needed hippie inspiration to write about the all-important meaning behind my work.
Full of self-doubt I kept working away, producing pieces I love wondering whether the world would love them too.
Captain’s entry April 2019: They did what??
Email received: “Someone has purchased your artwork”
What? They did what? It must be a mistake. They haven’t seen it in real life how could they want it?
The customer loved it. I’m humbled.
Captain’s entry late 2019: The quick brown fox needs pizzazz
I’m finding myself selling many pieces, but I continue to struggle with accurate descriptors for my work. People are telling me they are all manner of emotional things when they look at my art, but the best I come up with are blunt nouns such as, “Jellyfish in water”, ” Orange fox in brown field”, “Artwork for sale”.
I decide I can no longer pretend. I let the crazy cat out of the bag and start to describe in thorough detail, the real inspiration behind my work. Things start to feel better.
Captain’s entry Jan 2020: Tell yourself you’re amazing and you can do anything!
I decide I need a way to tell people why my inspiration is a little, shall we say, askew. I need people to get to know me as the artist so they can find out what kind of dizzying vortex they are buying into.
They say blogging really kicked off in the early 2000s. It’s a shame I discovered the allure of office cubicles and fluorescent lighting around that time or I would already be internet famous.
In hopes that blogging is still relevant 20 years later, I launch my first post, ’Shipwrecked in the Med and other nonsense about me’. I spend the second day wondering whether I’m just making a fool of myself. Third day I check whether my website has crashed from the millions of new subscribers. Alas it has not.
Fourth day, success! One person looked at my post for 0.05 seconds. (It could have just been myself checking for spelling errors, I’m not quite sure). I pour a congratulatory sherry, nonetheless.
My blog has become just the thing I need to dissect and make sense of my thoughts.
Captain’s entry Jan/Feb 2020: Yeah so this happened
January/February I am announced the winner of the national Art Lovers Australia Art Prize for my graphite piece, ‘This is not a drill’. As dumfounded as I am, I proudly write about my experience:
‘How to be a professional artist - the day I became a selfie star’
‘How to be a professional artist - the day I headlined for Duran Duran’
Last entry: I’ve got rhythm who could ask for anything more
No, I haven’t succumbed to the ravages of scurvy.
I’m now in the rhythm of drawing and writing. I feel privileged and delighted that my works are finding new homes across Australia and overseas. A few from 2020…
I’m continuing to share the inspiration behind my pieces with carefree abandon. From ’Skipping from the hips, a lesson in being a cow!’ to the fake roman soldier who whispered sweet nothings in my ear in ‘When is a Roman soldier not a Roman soldier?’
I’m revealing more about myself with posts like ‘Google said I look like a man in tights’ and ’I’m not weird, I’m just Baltic’ (Mum says I took some liberties with that one, but she would say that, she’s a frank but good humoured Latvian!)
Surprisingly, some of you informed me how educational my posts have been like ‘Graphite: what is it? It isn’t lower back pain’.
And I can’t leave out my most popular post and YouTube time-lapse video ‘The great pyramid scheme - commission’.
I want to say a big thank you to those of you who have subscribed to my mailing list, to anyone who reads my nonsense, and all those of you who see something in me and my work.
I appreciate what it means to work a hard day at the office, hiding files inside partitions, driving around to buy mud cakes for people you despise etc, so when you spend that hard earned cash to purchase my work, I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart.
Also, thank you to Mr Slager who continues to support me in so many ways. You have no idea how much it means to me when you get out your big foam hand and say “Go team, go!” whenever I create something.
Oh, for those of you wondering what Mr Slager looks like, here he is in a blizzard at Mt Fuji.
Just kidding, here we are at the Tokyo Sumo Stadium. In love as ever.
And my trusty sidekick who has no idea I’m shamelessly selling her image to the internet. Extra bickies for you kiddo!
If you’re looking for tips on starting a new endeavour might I suggest:
- Use whatever spare time you have in your current job to prepare for your next. If this means hiding out in the toilets with a laptop learning Photoshop then do it.
- Like a man who decides to dye their hair, start sooner rather than later. And don’t underestimate the effort required.
- Don’t fork out millions to start, just do what you can with what you have.
- If you are starting a blog, remember, if it all goes sideways, you can just delete the whole thing like it never happened.
- Despite the doubt and down days, always do a little thing that will keep you moving forward toward your goals.
- The secret sauce is, JUST BE YOU!
Have you learnt anything from my blog? Did anything tickle your fancy? Reach out to me, I’d love to hear it. In the meantime, I’ll be off in the corner wondering whether I’m making a fool of myself in front of you with this post.
Happy EOFYs everybody!