I can draw. You’ve seen me do it. I do it for friends, family, and the occasional client. Ever since I was young I remember people around me patting my head and telling me “Good job Amy!” whenever I handed them a doodle.
I love drawing. I love how a brush feels in my hand as I bring it around a sheet of paper. Most of the time, I draw quickly; I doodle for fun, and when I’m thinking of ideas, I have pauses that are punctuated by a little drawings in the nook of a note.
My name card has me pegged as an illustrator and a writer. But I still feel slightly uncomfortable whenever people ask me about my drawings. I even blush a little sometimes. It almost feels as though I don’t deserve the title although I’ve been commissioned a few times. The truth is, while I love drawing, I’m not able to see myself illustrating professionally. And when I say professionally, I mean I don’t see myself making money primarily from illustrating. I make ends meet through other means and right now I illustrate for fun, especially for friends or clients who know what to expect.
Some people (mostly relatives and well-meaning friends) don’t get this. They tell me “but you’re so good at it” (their words, not mine!) and gush about the fact that they themselves can’t draw to save their lives, so they don’t see the reason why I am not putting my skills to full use; i.e. profiting from it.
When it comes down to profiting from your skills, I think you need to be able to love the process as much too – and in this case, when you’re illustrating, it’s about loving the process of communicating with your client, as well as the revisions that will inevitably crop up during the process. Writing is like that too, but only for me, the process of writing feels a lot more effortless than illustrating (not drawing for fun, mind you.) Even when it came to revisions, if an editor told me to change words, phrases, etc – I’d do it in an instant. No hard feelings or emotions attached. When it comes to my illustrations, sometimes it feels like I’m holding a broken piece of glass between my fingers instead of a pencil when it was time to revise a drawing. Maybe because it feels more personal? Or maybe because pressing an undo button (or a backspace) seems a whole lot easier to me than erasing parts of my drawing and starting over.
So I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’m better off concentrating on what I’m good at. Writing. Editing. Organizing super secret fun projects with other illustrators. Etc. Although I may not be a working illustrator, I can feel my heart skip a beat whenever I see the works of art of others; whether they’re displayed in books, on walls, or just about anywhere else. Illustrations light me up.
You guys light me up.
And right now, I feel more at home spreading that light around, instead of trying to shine as one.
And I’m starting to think that it’s not all that bad.
Happy Monday folks!