I renewed my flickr account today, for another two years. What a good investment that has turned out to be. It seemed like such a frivolous, indulgent expense when I first subscribed to the service. Was it only a year ago? I had been working over the winter at the boutique and had scads of photos of my projects, the jobs were dropping off, and I was looking for a cheap way to build, quickly, an online portfolio.
It has worked more or less well in that regard, but the bonus is the unintentional side effect it has had operating as a constant, visual, reminder of all the beautiful, interesting things I have made. In the past couple weeks, I’ve randomly had contact with two old friends from highschool who wrote to tell me about stumbling across this blog and my flickr page… and it jogged me into thinking about all this and seeing it in a new light. I had no idea how powerfully inspiring and motivating maintaining a online portfolio would be. But every time I take a minute and browse through my archives it makes me feel sheepishly giddy. I think i’m pretty nifty!
It is too bad that I forget to be proud of myself on a regular basis, but I do. When the list of things I want to do, things I must do, and things I should do is never ending, when I feel like for all my labour I still have so far to go, it’s hard to feel anything but overwhelmed. On a good day, maybe i’ll feel overwhelmed, plus vaguely positive and pleased with a particular project, but there is always a lurking uneasiness that maybe I am just fucking it all up. Maybe this kind of self doubt is the natural shadow of the creative person, heck, of all persons, but if I really had to narrow it down, i’d say a lack of self-esteem is the biggest barrier to my success as an artist (whatever that might look like). And what I’m realizing is the extent to which this is tied to a rather poor memory.
See, I’ve never been gifted with a flawless one. Even as a kid, I could sing along with any song on the radio, but I’ll be damned if I can remember where I left my glasses. Or what I ate for dinner yesterday. Or when your birthday is. (Ok, maybe I’m stretching a bit here but bear with me) My thinking is that I never feel full of self doubt when I’m actually looking at my work – when facing my work I tend to feel excited, proud, maybe a little shy, but not self loath-y. That only ever comes later, when the thrill of creation is gone and I’m alone with my thoughts. So to be building this record of achievements, big and small, across various media, it is such a gift to myself. As a visually oriented person, having all these photos to look at is the very best reminder, it’s tangible and accessible, and it keeps me on track. To see the pile growing and developing, to see an overall style emerging, it’s fascinating – and incredibly inspiring!
In other news… the drawings you see here are my submission for an illustration competition – the People’s Potato, the vegan soup kitchen collective at Concordia University, is publishing a new cookbook and needs some drawings to complement the recipes. We have their first cookbook and use it all the time – it’s a really neat project, and I would be so happy to participate. Plus, it pays about 20$ a drawing, for between 50-60 drawings… so that is nothing to sneeze at!
I spent most of sunday drawing, it was so fun! In the past I have done a fair bit of sketching, but not much lately; it was a neat challenge to concentrate in this way, really sit with my ideas and seduce the images out of the paper. It is quite a different process to draw for an audience, to be thinking about meaning and communication… Most of the drawing i do on a regular basis is only for myself, rude mnemonic devices to pin down the details of a project, or to plan a design. It was really a pleasurable exercise to draw this different purpose in mind, and to find a particular style emerging over the course of the day. I am quite tickled with the end result – I didn’t know they would turn out so nicely! And you know, it is a nice feeling to be so happy about what I made – not that i don’t usually have project satisfaction, but there is a sort of clean and tidy, stand alone, ends-tied-up-feeling to these drawings that I like. Partly it has to do with the surprise I feel finding that I’m not even particularly hung up or anxious about winning the competition. There is something about drawing that is just an end in itself, I guess. I wonder if you can all tell that I’m grinning?
So I suppose I will hear about this in a few weeks… surely I will let you know how it goes. In the meantime, I’m feeling rather inspired by the exercise. It’s got me seeing everything around me slightly differently – like, what would that look like as a drawing? It’s neat. I have gotten so used to my digital camera that I’d forgotten the pleasure of creating tiny worlds on paper. Photography is wonderful, useful, handy — but there is some different kind of digestion of the visual that happens when I draw. I do feel inclined to admit, however, that for three of the drawings above I did use my camera as an aid. I took a few shots to use as cue cards, as it were, and worked just off the tiny viewscreen thumbnails. It’s funny that it felt a little like cheating for some reason, but it’s not that different from just working from a still life or model, or what have you (more comfortable for the model, too). Anyway, in the end I think that this process imparted an interesting cinematic quality to them, which I am quite fond of.
I had hoped to also show you today pictures of the top secret birthday present… but it seems to have gotten lost in the mail system! GRRRrrr! I’m hoping that it still might show up somehow, despite the tracking code I have not tracking a goddamn thing. You’ll all just have to hold your horses a few more days I guess. Sorry, Rikki. I was all organized and sent it on time and everything! Oh well… If worse comes to worse, I do have enough material to replicate said top secret gift. But let’s all use our colours and light to guide the parcel to its rightful place with the birthday girl. Ok? Ok!
Go team, go!