Lettered with Love
Working a desk job, I tried to make a point of using my very short lunch break to squeeze in a drop cap. The limited time forces me to one, be creative, but also two, extend forgiveness to myself because of the lack of perfection. The quick stylizing forces my brain to capture the more important elements of the form, and tackling the detail later.
And many times, "later" includes the introduction of color, a very rare component of my final pieces.
M for Maragogype. And Matcha. And Moonpie. And Maybe.
In December 2015, I decided to make a Christmas piece- primarily because this phrase resonates in my soul, in and out of season... Aaaand it didn't hurt that there was a lettering contest underway.
Ok so I honestly didn't think it was a winning piece; in my mind, spending time drawing meaningful quotes only means that I have more time to meditate and find meaning.
"Let your heart be light." It's an imperative phrase, barely a suggestion, and more of an urging. A calling, a strong recommendation, a high but obtainable hope. I suppose that's the melody of Christmas, right? A thrill of hope, a weary world rejoices.
Being the botanical lover that I am, I made sure to incorporate the classic flora- mistletoe and holly. And I think it was here, in the small details, that I remembered that no one would see these small intricacies in a little grid square on the screen.. No one would appreciate the miniature dots and strokes. No one would see the careful pines and mistletoe stems.
And yet, that reality was the most comforting. Because this isn't a piece about attaining anything, it was a piece that called to my inner being: you carry many burdens, you work too much, you strain your eyes- but let your heart be light.
(also, no I did not win that contest)
[ on deck ]
watching: Love Actually. Hey, I'm posting a Christmas piece in July! Can't help if I'm in the mood 🎄
I always do this super job of crowding my phone with photos that I never post. 65% of those photos happen to be WIP shots, or Work in Progress. I am determined to get those up and posted and off my phone! So that I can download more apps. Or take more photos. Maybe.
This happens to be one of my favorite quotes; it's by Heidi Baker, who is an inspiration of loving selflessly and serving with joy.
The art process itself is a mix of drawing (I call it "drawing" instead of "writing" because the making of letterforms involves more than forward strokes), and repetitive tracing, followed by throwing it into photoshop.
I made this piece in November 2015 and am having the worst memory as far as how I did this piece 😅 but I do believe I actually traced all the letters with the pen tool. Seems unnecessarily labor intensive, but throwing it into illustrator and using the trace tool proved to be a lot worse.
CONFESSION: I still don't know how to vector and am ALWAYS asking for tips, advice, and am watching tutorials. I actually just watched one this morning.
This is probably one of the "least liked photos" on Instagram (which, now is not the post to dive into the Culture of Likes), but also I see areas where I can re-do, and ways to improve. Expect me to remake this quote in the future!
[ on deck ]
Listening: Olafur Arnalds "Say My Name"
Right. How's that going? Three months since that last post? Pulling up the anchor? What happened?
Oh I'll tell you what happened. In vanilla basic form.
A significant part of the creative soul is that place of freedom- I mean that place where, when nothing make sense in the tangible world, the creative retreats into. It's that place where nothing has bounds, and everything is possible, and options are endless, and visions can take flesh. I'm talking about the place of dreams and imagination.
Now, when you take that boundless space and make it the creative's everyday arena, suddenly the lack of structure makes plans fall apart. The lack of boundaries makes it easier to fall off the deep end. Reality starts feeling like impossibility. And there is an increasing struggle of I AM A CREATIVE, and none of these voices turn off.
My thing is, I THRIVE in structure. I LOVE IT. Why else do accounting and library science exist in my job cache? It's my jam. So, suddenly allowing my creative self to roam free felt like I was slingshot over a cliff. Note that I am a unique situation; not every freelancer will go off the deep end that quickly, if at all. But what do I mean by these metaphors?
For one thing, I feel incredibly blessed to have had client work lined up. I live in gratitude for them because I anticipate a time when searching and marketing myself will be difficult. But without structure, I would either A) be horribly unmotivated to use my creative gears to make something that disinterests me, or B) work SO much that I pull 16 hour days. On top of this vast divide, when I worked a day job, I could come home and create. When I put the pen down from client work, I don't feel like making more art, and thus, I I have no escape except the hole known as Netflix (ahem... choosing what to watch on Netflix). Essentially, because I had so many client projects, I didn't have time to do what I set out to do, which was: finish some personal projects and curate the portfolio/feed I want.
The struggle had such a harsh emotional effect on me, and it was hard to be honest when people asked how much I loved the freelance life. "IT SUCKS" I wanted to cry. And I mean cry with waterfall tears. It's just hard when you have an amazing support system of people encouraging me to fly, and changing my course makes me feel like a failure. These are real feelings, even though people will say "You're not a failure" and "We will always support you." You know what I mean, the bulk of it isn't feeling like you failed other people, but that you failed yourself - failed your soul, put it back in a cage, and said "sorry, not now."
But if not now, then when?
Ultimately, it's about finding out what works for you. You have to believe that every freelance journey is different, because every freelancer has their own definition of freedom, their own cliffs to fly off of, their own waters to charter. And for me, this is what worked:
I'm learning to be gracious to myself. What I anticipated and what I'm experiencing are two different things. But that is okay! I can't say that I'm a failure. I haven't stopped trying, I haven't refused trying to make things work. I'm learning as I go, I'm learning to lean into the struggle. I'm learning about myself and capitalizing my strengths and finding help for my weaknesses. I'm learning to trust, learning to heal. I'm learning to allow myself a new beginning every morning.
[ on deck ]
listening: Leon Bridges
watching: BBC's Planet Earth
The creative life is a courageous, soul-bearing venture. Whether showing works in progress, or talking about life in progress, I hope to make sense of the journey and hope you can share in the joys and struggles. If you're interested, my thoughts and spiritual musings can be found here: The Sunday Journal.