“Now What”: The Question Every Artist Asks Once in their Life

Let’s get real here.

I know I don’t post often or much about myself personally and for good reason…
It’s mostly due to a deep depression in my art and fear of health issues that was hard to emotionally navigate and get through for several years during my undergraduate career. Since I have graduated in December, and also have been unemployed for about 6 months a strange form of irony seemed to creep up on me.

I finally had the chance to really relax for about the first time in my life for several months after graduation (thanks to the help of my lovely fiancé). Then after about 2 months I got antsy, and just worked on job applications/searching and starting a “professional website” like they told me towards the end of my undergraduate that I needed to have as an artist but didn’t provide me the resources on how to do it (I did that myself, through Lynda.com and massive amounts of filtering through Pinterest posts and website links on how to start your own website).

Slowly as I worked on going through all of my school art to post online, I felt that I was able to let go of the structure and the absolute need for someone to tell me what to make and I make something based off that. What I really wanted was to make art for myself and that has been what has been stopping me from making any original art anymore, even fan art just for fun. I personally have a lot of issues towards my university and the way they handle educating their artists to just make “textbook perfect art”, and then they have no idea of how to actually be an artist or sell your work etc. ( a post for another time)

More recently, I have noticed the desire to doodle something, or sketch a flower, or draw my cat or fiance just because I want to, not because I was instructed to by someone else. It was strange becoming self-aware of the rise of my true desire to create something for the sake of appreciation and “just because”.

So to help keep this creative urge going, I decided that with a long-term art friend of mine that we do weekly drawings of things we enjoy that are just a part of daily life. This may mimic the structure that an institution provides but its different in the fact that I get a choice, I make the decisions, and that I am in full control.

I noticed a lot of students where I went to undergraduate experience the “have to make art have to make art ” almost robotic like production to obtain their degree, but once they were done, just like me they were left with more questions than answers.
The ever creeping “Now What?” question of what to do next. Some figure this out much faster than others, and for some this could take forever to truly figure out since creating can always change for every day of your life.

There are a lot of names to call this “now what” stage: art block, depression, a quarter life artist crisis even. All I seemed to have learned from making art is that not one single artist can seem to avoid a period of doubt, depression, and a lack of creation. They may not advertise the fact to the world and they may still be producing art but to the artist, their art will feel stagnant, stiff, and subpar. Within that factor, the belief that artists should always be making art every day of their life is irrational on every level. I personally believe that people should create every day of their life instead.

What I mean by this is that creating a piece of art and just creating are completely two different things. When I couldn’t bring myself to make art, I created other things instead. I baked, I helped people develop websites, I crafted toys for my cat, I played simulation games, made new memories by exploring my new neighborhood. The well of creation can’t only be filled by art alone, it needs to be filled with life. Living breathing life.

Art is empty without it. I was empty without it. It can still take me all my life to work this out but at least I am aware. Because of this, I am happy, and I can create again.

Thanks for reading this far,

-Mary

smtc-nowhwat

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