Burnout is a real thing. Burnout can cause you to do a complete 180 on your passions and what child-you thought was your life and career path. I was 18, I knew I wanted to be a children’s book illustrator. I drew animals over and over again, fantastical creations. I roleplayed online with my online friends, I created stories for all these characters. I applied to University and received an unconditional place on a degree course – General Illustration (BA Hons inc HND). I did not take a foundation course.
I was one of the youngest in my classes, and thus had a hard time connecting with others around me, they’d all been to foundation courses for a year, learned their style and where they were going and had much clearer ideas. They also lived in halls for a majority. I missed out on halls and lived in a rented room the other side of town.
I floundered around – I remember one particularly harsh review half way through my final project where my tutor said ‘Its a bit DeviantArt, isn’t it?‘ That review led me to do these images in this blog post.
Born from frustration, they were scribbled at 3am in a tiny moleskine notebook at my student house’s kitchen table, surrounded by washing up, countless empty mugs of tea and done only with a Japanese brush pen.
Cwn Annwn, the illustration above, was chosen to be displayed at New Designers’ exhibition in London that spring. It sold on the first day of the exhibition as a framed 1/2 print to a lady who loved it for her kitchen. She paid £200 as that was what I needed to fix my iPhone I had dropped the previous day. The other print (2/2) hangs in my mother’s kitchen.
And that’s it. That’s where my enjoyment stopped. I sold that piece, finished the Final Exhibition in uni, graduated and that summer I used my creative skills, laptop and graphics tablet to carve out a small living alongside working Children’s Parties and supporting my completely useless partner of the time. My art went back to ‘Its a bit DeviantArt, isn’t it?’ because that was what sold quickly. I lost my individual creative spirit.
The pain of having to draw whatever people threw at you -because you needed to live- completely killed my drive to work as an artist. I wanted to create my own visions, not those of others.
Only now, this week – 3-4 years later I am creating on my own terms again. I’m sewing, I’m scribbling and I’m enjoying what I’m doing. If I end up earning a living from it again I will gladly welcome it, but only if it comes through doing my own thing and enjoying it once again.
So I leave this blog post with a scribble I did the other evening, sat with my dog on my sofa in my home.