Sunday, March 19, 2017

Ask Alicia: To draw and where to draw, that is the question.

Email from 'Feline Friend'

 I too am an artist who uses fabric as canvas...and I am writing to you in the same capacity. I want to talk and know about how you managed to do what you really like and create a niche workplace and business for yourself. I am not writing in hope to collaborate or find a job with you. I just want to resolve a conflict I am facing, where I feel I do not belong to a certain commercial industry because I want to work with various things, want to do non-conformative work that utilizes my skill as an illustrator. I have a job presently, but its just a job and not that something drives me. Its something that pays and keeps me out of home for major part of the day. That's all. I fill sketchbooks after sketchbooks with explorations..themes and patterns but cant decide an outlet for them. I just want some guidance and want to talk to someone who comes from a similar place as I do. Thanks!
-A Feline Friend

Hello hello Ms. Feline Friend, 

The best kind of job in the world is when you’re getting paid doing something you absolutely adore doing. I consider myself stunningly lucky in this regard, though part of every job includes bits that is not too fun to do. In my case, a lot of my job is NOT drawing. It involves talking to clients, accounts, working on briefs that are not always amazingly exciting, and sometimes even drawing when I truly just don’t feel like it. 

I think one of the things I realised early on is that I’m working as a commercial illustrator and not an artist. Though I use my heart, I have to also use my head when it comes to working with clients and making a brief work. I realised that it’s also a business and I need to make money for me to make this work as a job. Not only a job, but a career. 

Starting out is always a bit hard. I created a niche by just doing and doing a lot of it. I can almost compare it to digging a hole. When you start digging, it's too small to notice but if you keep at it, you have a hole that only you're standing it and more people can see it. I had to keep doing a lot of things that I wasn't too keen on doing, like talking about money or drawing things that arn't exactly my cup of tea. Same with the business/online store. I think I got lucky with the online store because I have a partner who keeps me on my toes. But it took a lottt of self-convincing because I really wasn't sure I could handle another responsibility. But I could! So sometimes taking risks also pay off. 

Lastly, is probably thinking about how your work can see the light of day. Some art is purely art and may not work commercially, but then perhaps you can work towards an exhibition. I’ve not seen your work so I can’t suggest but I truly think you’d be the best critic. Would your paintings look great on walls? Where can it extend beyond fabric? What’s next? Can you make money out of it? Is it a hobby or do you want it to earn an income? Will it be able to support you? (a little bit more in this AA response)

Just glazing through these in your mind and just taking the first step towards an outcome that you see fit, is the start. No one, or atleast I, don’t have big plans but have vague three year plans. That’s good so there’s something to aim towards. They change, almost always but having a goal in mind, always helps. 

I hope this did too and all the best!
Kisses, 

Alicia

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