One of the most memorable string of words I spoke as I was learning the English language at the age of eight was, “What the hell are you doing?”
I said this to one of my classmates as we were coloring because she didn't stay inside the lines. Yep, I was that kid. As soon as the words left my mouth, every student within earshot exclaimed in disbelief. I think the only thing that saved me from getting tattled on to the teacher was the look of pure confusion on my face. The night before, my dad thought it would be funny if I yelled this bold statement towards my mom as she came around the corner vacuuming. After whispering the words in my ear for me to repeat, I said them loudly with pride and absolutely no clue as to their meaning. When my mother heard what I’d said, she quickly turned off the vacuum in shock and scolded my father as he erupted in laughter. While I still didn’t fully understand the implication of those words when I spoke them in the classroom, one thing was sure: Even at the age of eight, art was a serious matter for me.
Not so rich and famous
When I began my undergraduate studies at the University of Montevallo in 2004, I really didn't know that making a career out of being a visual artist was a thing. I initially intended on studying Graphic Design, because it seemed to be the more sensible route towards a creative field. After one semester, however, I switched my concentration to painting and drawing, despite the concerns of becoming a "starving artist." I wanted to paint and draw because I enjoyed it, not because I thought I'd make lots of money from it. (Ok, let's be honest, I also hoped my art would make me rich and famous.)
I never became rich and famous, and I likely never will. I've accepted that. The reality is, that being an artist is far from glamorous. It's filled with rejection, defeat, social anxiety, lots of compliments with no sales, people asking for discounts, more rejection, creative blocks, self-imposed pressure to make art to prove you are in fact an artist, spending tons of money on supplies to make art that sits in your storage for years and years, lack of time and energy to make art because you have another more reliable career that pays the bills, self-criticism, doubt, fear, and did I mention rejection?
Yet, it all seems worth it when someone connects with my art, when I get a yes, when I have meaningful conversations about my work, when I feel at peace because I AM making art, when someone buys my work because it spoke to them, when I inspire someone else, when I follow through with that idea, when I impress myself with my artistic abilities, when I am reminded that being an artist is only one facet of my complex identity.
The Creative Life
Since completing my undergraduate studies in art, I've always said that had I not gone to school for Fine Art, I would have chosen to study Interior Design. I have always had an affinity and knack for decorating a space, so in October 2018, I decided to become a Certified Interior Decorator. And while I've never had an interest in studying professional or creative writing, every now and then I have the urge to express my artistic interests through written word.
No matter the vehicle, the need to create is in my blood. Although I sometimes ask myself, "What the hell are you doing?" the journey I have as an artist is one of continual growth and deep satisfaction. Thank you for being a part of that journey.