Like any illustrator or artist, my confidence in my own abilities can take a hit now and then. I look at past work and am sick of it, or disappointed. In visual art, though there are countless abandoned sketches, we fill our online portfolios with images deemed successful or remarkable enough to make the cut. Hopefully, over a career, you look back at your portfolio and see an incline in work you're increasingly proud of.
But sometimes you get sick of past work or can only see the flaws. For me, the past few years of full time + part time work (which is interesting and cool and pays the bills) have made completing commissions even remotely on time a challenge (my clients are the greatest for having the patience they've had). My portfolio fills slowly, and doesn't turn over too much. With 2015 drawing to a close, this is weighing on me again. Times like this I need a touchstone, something I can look at as a measure of being genuine and good at what I'm passionate to make.
Here's a small, edited sequence from when I was feeling low around this time last year:
I can't work at night. I always get too depressed about my own abilities. Too much happening lately. pic.twitter.com/oPRdfxalMe— Glendon Mellow (@FlyingTrilobite) October 28, 2014
@FlyingTrilobite Will do! And just think - many people love your art enough to have it stabbed into their skin. Counts for something. ;)— Leilah (@leilah) October 28, 2014
Leilah, writer, and long time supporter of my work was referring to science tattoos I have designed. Perhaps I should try what my Symbiartic co-blogger Katie McKissick has done, and hold a board meeting.
For the past year though, quoting @Leilah has remained my pinned tweet at the top of my Twitter feed - with a link for others to find my portfolio, though mainly this pin as for me, a reminder to myself.
I might be able to remove this pinned tweet now. And I'd like to thank Leilah for the compliment, and reminding me that it is utterly awesome that there are people out there with my images tattooed onto their bodies. Illustrators thrive on feedback, and even a simple tweet can help someone bounce back. Do you let artists know how you feel? Next time you see some illustrations you like, instead of just retweeting or reblogging, leave a comment.
Every good career development for me has ultimately, at root, come from me making images and playing with the images of science. I need to keep carving out space - not precious, scheduled space, but seize-the-moment space - to create more, and more often.