On my recent outing to the Asian Children’s Festival of Content (AFCC) in Singapore a few months ago, I had a bit of a problem telling people what it is that I do.
Am I a blogger? Well, yes, partly – I have a blog, yes. Does that make me a blogger? Hmmm.
Am I an illustrator? Yes, I can draw, and I’ve been commissioned a few times. But, read why I’m not a professional illustrator.
Am I a writer? Yes, although I loathe putting myself out there as “strictly” a writer. You know the sort – they’re comfortable hanging around other writers quoting books word for word as though it’s some sort of a competition, and I’m sure I lost that gene somewhere along the way.
Am I a teacher? Yes, I am. Although I didn’t get a Masters degree in teaching or in the subject that I teach (creative thinking applied to illustration) nor am I planning to. It’s hard for me to reach this point of being comfortable calling myself that, but hey, rave reviews from students surely must count for something; that, and the exhilarating feeling of actually finding out that I’m making a difference, however small it may be.
Finding a way to incorporate all of that into my name card is quite challenging, and well, introductions are for me a slightly awkward affair. But the truth is, what I’m dealing with isn’t just unique to my situation. What happens when your career (and life) is made up of lots of slashes? Writer / illustrator / teacher / blogger? Or what about accountant / artist? Plumber / journalist / illustrator? Should I call myself an artist who can write, or a writer who can draw?
We’re more than just one label. Mother / daughter / father / son / friend.
What we are, is unique. And it’s this complex tapestries that makes us who we are. If you shy away and hide away certain parts of yourself, you’re denying others the opportunity of experiencing what makes you special.
I’ll give you one example, and I like to draw on my own experience with this:
Writing, in many cases is much like drawing. Writers get hired to illustrate a story, but only instead of pictures, we use words. I used to get writing commissions from a magazine where they had a very set writing style that I had to adhere to, and it was an absolute chore. They had told me that my writing style was “too personal” and had a habit of being too “illustrative” (I kid you not!) So I stopped taking on their work, and found others who actually liked my style for the exact same reasons. They paid four times as much and were so much more fun to deal with. So I stopped taking in clients who wouldn’t allow my talents to shine, and instead went after the ones who would above all, understand my strengths and apply it to their advantage. I’m happy, and they’re thrilled.
What I had done, was to stop being just a writer. I stopped churning out words that could easily be put together by anyone who powers up Microsoft Word and then start typing. So what does this mean to you? Are you just an artist, or an illustrator? Do you move that paintbrush or pen only when you’re commanded to? I figured not.
I’m more than just a writer. I’m a writer who can draw, and I also teach. Oh and I have a blog that ties everything that I love together.
Hello there, my name is Amy and it’s nice to meet you.
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So tell me, what do you do exactly? What sort of slashes pepper your life and career? And how have they made you different from the rest?
If you’re more than just an artist & illustrator, come check out my new class Work / Art / Play, where we’ll focus on bringing out your strengths. We’ll touch on modern strategies on how to make money from your art, while having fun too. There’s only 6 more days to sign up, and class begins on 16th September. Read more details and see the complete syllabus by clicking here!