m wood pen

freelance illustrator: have pen, will travel

thank goodness i was here when i had to give myself advice tonight.

i am in the midst of evolving, once again.  this happens a lot.  it’s driven mostly by two things: my curiosity and my appetite.  and by appetite, i guess that’s a double entendre: i love challenges, new projects, ever-changing creative endeavors.  but i also get hungry, and so do my kids, and we need to eat, and well, you get the drift.  i have to earn a living, so i’ve kept my creative blinders off: what’s next, where will i go from here, what’s a cool way to create now? i’ve had so many reincarnations in just this lifetime, i’ve lost count.  (i’ll go into my previous lifetimes some other time…what a riot that stuff is!)

so, i’ve just spent much of the last winter designing an entire line of letterpress notes for a great client of mine.  very exciting days for her as she prepares to launch her brand spanking new business.  i remember how i felt twenty years ago when i launched mine, the first step into this wacky trip i’ve been on, amazingly loving my work still, spoiled rotten that i get to wake up each day, sip that heady & strong first sip of coffee, cozy up to my desk (or counter, or sectional, or deck, or pasture, or anywhere in my little universe where i’m compelled to start my day), and just invent & create.

got totally off track.  sorry.  i was writing about advice.  the proud new mama of this wonderful new company made a horrible mistake: she spent much of an entire day (truth be told, she might have spent several days) looking at the competition.  NO!  never ever, ever do that!!!  she sent me an email, it was troubled, it was worried, she was certain that her new letterpress line was going to be bland compared to the plethora of options that other companies offered.

my reply?  it went something along these lines: look, the car i often drive is a volvo station wagon that has about 150,000 miles on it.  it gets me where i need to go, gets the kids where they need to go, it has air conditioning, a remote control for the radio (which we find hysterical, who needs such a thing?), takes the curves nice and tight, and has a fair bit of chutzpah when merging onto the highway.  it’s fine.  it does what we need it to do.  now, what if, when driving around in that wacky old car, i stared at the shiny pretty big gorgeous fancy over-the-top brand new range rover in the next lane?  how bad do i want to make myself feel?  and why put myself through that?  why compare, why?  (well, because i want to own that car!!!  that’s why!!!)  but, i have two kids in college.  i’m a single mom.  we eat a lot!  i’m a freelance illustrator with some super cool clients but heck, i cast that net out all the time, bringing home some big fish, true.  however, i never know when that net is going to come back empty, or with a few puny fish, or with a tear from some big range-rover like cigarette boat that tears it to shreds!

my point?  take what you have and love it for what it is and what you get from it.  and stay within your means, stay comfortable, don’t wish away the steps that you need to take in order to get to that big fat shiny range rover (really, buying used is just the way to go, anyway) and that huge big all-encompassingly gigantic stationery line with bows, gadgets, pop-ups, ribbon, sparkles, noises, and anything else you could conjure up to keep up with the joneses.

i’ve never met the joneses, i’m sure they’re perfectly lovely people, but i really like what i’ve got, what i have, and the paths, twists and turns, i’ve traveled to get where i am at this very moment in my life.  plus, guess what?  i really love the anticipation of the climb.  what a riot this is!

so, she took my advice like a trooper, is happy with her first phase into the foray of stationery business owner, and will be launching next month.  oh happy day!

as for me, what troubled waters i was getting into tonight.  i did the very same thing.  honestly, i didn’t mean to, it just happened.  that’s the problem with this crazy internet…before you know it, you’re 458 clicks away from whatever it was that you planned to do at the start of your session.

i’m sort of on the cusp of that reincarnation i mentioned earlier.  setting my dinner table, assembling the guests), and from that dinner party will come a pretty jaw-dropping adventure.  i’ve already visualized it all (omg, that reminds me of this insipid girl who was vying for the ‘bachelor’ a few years ago, she kept talking about her visualization board!), drawn a heck of a lot of it, and now just a few more pieces of the puzzle and we’re off.

in the meantime, i clicked too many buttons (though they’re not really buttons when you direct your mouse to a colored rectangle on a laptop screen…heck, it’s not even called a mouse anymore, i am getting old or things are moving super-light-speed!).  so, okay, i admit it: i looked at someone else’s stuff.  that doesn’t sound appropriate, what i mean is, i was hanging out at the national stationery show website.  the really big show (said in an ed sullivan voice, raise your hand if you know what i’m talking about)  begins in a few days.  i was having a moment of nostalgia for that annual, wonderful week that, every year, would find me in nyc having an absolute ball: exhibiting my little note card business by day, and carousing fabulous restaurants & enjoying the bright lights of broadway each night. what’s not to love?  i don’t have a note card business anymore, and although my designs will be attending in some pretty notable places, (can you say crane & co.?), i will not!

what’s that expression?  you can never go home?  well, going to the website was not the best place for me to reminisce!  first of all, it was like looking at a fabulous party menu and guest list that your name is NOT on…and secondly, i did that very bad thing: i clicked on new exhibitors.

omg. omg. omg. are you kidding me?

this is a new exhibitor?  are you kidding me????!!!!  and the same thing happened to me tonight that has happened every time i look at a really cool stationery company.  i want to throw every design/every illustration/every rough sketch i’ve ever made INTO THE GARBAGE CAN. and then burn it all up!

in layman’s terms: i want to push that volvo over the edge of a really high, rocky cliff.

and what’s the point?  so i sat myself down just now and gave myself that little talk i mentioned.  i understood exactly the point i was trying to make, and i also remembered how lucky i am to have the life that i have, the job that i have, the ideas that, incomprehensibly, keep popping into this brain.  trust me, it’s not always easy to do this, and it’s impossible when you look at some shiny pretty something that isn’t yours and tell yourself: i can never be that good.

so, i’ve snapped out of it.  i love the new exhibitors that i saw:  they’re incredible and wow, there’s some amazing talent out there.  a round of applause for all of you brilliant people!  but, i’m cool with me.  and my own meandering evolution.

granted, i’m incredibly proud of where that rascal note card company took me, and the people i gathered up along the way.  the view from here is wonderfully fulfilling as i watch my illustrations move on to better addresses than the one i gave them!

so, no more peeking, and, clearly, this is a sally field moment.  i do like what i do, and guess i wouldn’t trade it for the world.

besides, i can still plan an annual trip to nyc every may.  can’t i?

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: