When I was a little kid, I would spend hours drawing the most ridiculous (see: terrible) cartoons of my family, trying to capture their likeness. I’d page my way through those “how to draw anything books” and I’d pick one particular subject and draw it over and over again until I remembered exactly where every pencil stroke was supposed to go. I never stopped drawing, I bloody loved it, I was a fiery little kid and art was the only time I felt at peace inside.
In high school I would occasionally doodle in the margins of my books, and even though I remember taking art as a subject I never really enjoyed it. It was very structured, very history based and I just couldn’t come to terms with having to draw a certain thing in a set style that didn’t feel “right” for me. Well, I probably should’ve paid attention because I wish I was more educated now, but try telling any teenager they’ll wish they listened and learned a little more when they’re older.. I’m also ashamed to say, I was very into outward appearances in high school, and being the “art chick” wasn’t perceived as being all that “cool” so I steered clear of drawing too much for fear of what other people would think of me. I wish I had the guts/maturity to just do what made me happy, because I probably could’ve gotten to where I am now, or even beyond, much sooner.
After high school I stopped drawing completely, and went off to study at uni, but after a year and a half I was miserable, so I got a job at a video store, then a music store, then a tattoo apprenticeship. That’s when my love of drawing came back, big time. So much so that I eventually realised I was a lot less into the actual tattooing than I was sitting around all day drawing (this is part of the training, an apprentice never stops practicing and honing their skills).
I remember wishing I could just draw for a living, but have you ever heard the phrase “starving artist”? Or “struggling artist”? Yeah, me too, only like a zillion times in my life. So of course I never really believed it was even an option, I thought tattooing was probably as good as I was gonna get.
Around this time I was starting to upload some of my drawings on Instagram, and people were saying some really nice things, which was a necessary confidence booster at the time. Cliches are cliches because they are true, and said far too often, but I’d struggle to find a new way to say “every artist is their own worst critic” so I’m just going to say it. Every artist is their own worst critic. You know what you’re aiming for, you and (hopefully) only you can see the ways in which you didn’t measure up to the image in your mind, and you were there to witness every mistake. It’s taken me a long time to learn that not many people see your work the same way you do. And thank god for that.
A couple of my amazing friends had been telling me I needed to do something with my art for a long time (my mum said it too, but mothers always think their kid is the best so I questioned her obviously biased opinion). It wasn’t like I was just a bit hesitant, I was downright against it. I was dead-set terrified of failure, or of being judged, or of basically any negativity being associated with the one thing that made me truly happy. I didn’t want to lose that feeling. Out of desperation to pay my car rego (I’d already sold my fancy camera and was earning a pittance as an apprentice) I started my bigcartel site, with 4 whole prints for sale. I actually cried when I sent it live because I was so nervous and I just knew no one would buy anything and I’d be left feeling pathetic. My best friend bought the first print. She’s an angel. Then a couple of other people started buying prints, then more, and two and a bit years later I feel like I’ve won the job lottery, because this is my entire life. The thing I love is the thing I get to do every day.
That was a long story, but it’s the most detailed account of how I got to where I am, and it wasn’t overnight, and it wasn’t always easy. I don’t always get enough sales to make it through the week, I think obviously through social media it is easy to portray success and I’m sure some people think I’m rolling in it but I’m not, and I don’t want to give anyone that impression because I don’t want them to be disappointed if things don’t take off right away. I still live at home with my mum and I’m still learning how to balance my finances and budget so I don’t starve to death during quiet patches. But it’s totally worth any hard work, and I hope this inspires anyone who has doubts in themselves to take a chance and work at it because chances are you are the only thing holding you back.