Ever since the second #RealTalkTambay wrapped up (you don't have to remind me that I need to write about that!), I haven't been making as much as I would have liked, and that usually means something's bothering me. I'd say 30% of the time I am worrying about an upcoming trip, 20% of the time I am feeling the pressure to come up with new products for the holidays, and 50% of the time I am thinking about some things that I haven't had the time to think about for the past two months. That's what busyness does to me; I forget about the things that usually keep me up at night. But thanks to a couple of art tambays I had with friends last week, these issues have found their way back to the surface. One of them is art style.
Earlier this month I conducted four watercolor lettering demos. In a mall. With lots of people. Totally terrifying for an introvert, but I guess I have learned how to put a brave face on when it comes to these things. I have taught many workshops before, but I don't know, somehow doing demos is scary for me because 1) I feel responsible for a brand, 2) I feel accountable for all the participants, and 3) I feel inadequate and under-qualified. Is this impostor syndrome all over again?
Look, I know I am not the best watercolor letterer/illustrator/artist out there, and I do feel grateful that opportunities are coming my way, but at the same time I wonder why. Why me? There are people who are much more talented and much more skilled than me!
One of my friends has this theory that people approach me to do stuff for them because they are looking for a recognizable style and are not necessarily after the best technical execution. Now I don't really know how to feel about that because, like I've expressed many times before, I don't see myself as having a distinct style. (Seriously, what is wrong with me?!?!?) Maybe I haven't realized it yet. When I look at my work, I see fragments of unfinished projects. My attention span is very, very short; I get bored easily so I rarely see personal projects to their end. And I like working on a lot of different things. One day I'd be painting quotes, the next day I'd be digitizing illustrations, the following week I'd be designing products. I am all over the place! I used to be really bothered by this, but I think I've made peace with this side of myself, except on days like this when I think about things too much. There are times when I feel like my distinct personal art style is playing hide-and-seek with me, and I am always kulelat. But I trust that sometime in the future a common theme will emerge from my work, make itself obvious, and tie the loose ends together.
Besides, I'd like to believe that the only connecting thread my work needs is me, that I made all of them. But sometimes the world makes me feel like that's not enough. I'd hate to think it all boils down to marketing. God, I hate self-promotion and personal branding! My friends know this; how I cringe at the thought of consciously marketing myself and building a following. I am old-school in the sense that I believe great work will market itself, that finding an audience is simply a by-product of making something that is true to oneself and is relatable to other people. But if I want to book my dream clients and projects, I must put my work (and myself) out there, and I feel like sometimes people are looking at the person and not the work anymore. Kind of like the way people are drawn to the flatlay photo of an artwork and not the artwork itself. This is all so confusing!!!
At the end of the day, I go back to my notes on Big Magic and remind myself that all of these concerns do not matter. The act of creating is what's essential, and the joy it brings should be enough motivation for me do it again and again.