We walk through fire to find our own identity and voice as an artist. These solid voices can be found in the art world, music, and various types of creative expression. We know them when we see or hear them. When seeing a Frida Kahlo painting, we know it is a Frida Kahlo. When you hear Billie Eilish, you know it is Billie Eilish. When watching a movie and Leonardo DiCaprio is in it, we know it is Leonardo DiCaprio. These people have a voice, famous or not a voice is something most creatives are deeply passionate about achieving.
FINDING YOUR OWN VOICE
To achieve your own voice and style you must invest hours of practice, study, and experimenting. You must work hard and fail many times. After hours, days or years we come to resting points in the process where we pondering:
What the heck am I doing?
How am I doing this?
Who am I doing this for?
Who am I?
What does this all mean?
Am I good enough?
Did I just make, this?
And then we start all over again. What most artists don’t understand is that this circular process even occurs on repeat after you have found a solid voice or style. This is true even after you have become wildly successful. It keeps us on our toes and in the same breath it can paralyze us into not trusting the process of creating for the love of creating.
MY CURRENT VOICE
The story I am about to share is about dual vulnerabilities. One with having a voice and the other with losing it (if only temporarily).
During my career as an internationally exhibited and awarded artist, I have been very lucky to find a voice strong enough to be part of exhibitions, award ceremonies, collections, books, and more. I was also lucky to be one of the very few artists 15 years ago exhibiting primarily digital art on a global level in galleries and still do now. I don’t say that with ego, yet I present this as a marker to set the stage for a new transition into another vulnerability that I will present in this blog post.
When you gain recognition for one type of art, a style, and your voice there comes a pressure to perform. Your next work must outshine the last one as well as keep with your style or you will be shunned. I know it sounds harsh, but it’s just like any other industry. Once you are known for something, then you are “that person”. It has its good and bad attributes. As a career artist, at times felt pigeon-holed into doing art that people expected but this comes with the industry, so I accepted that.
2020 COVID TRANSITION
The last year has been one of the most vulnerable for me and many others. Over the last 15 years, I have been known as a digital artist (due to being allergic to any mediums to the point of hospitalization), that focuses mostly on the figure. In the last year, during this Covid inspired lockdown, I was lucky to have gotten a diagnosis before lockdown and the right treatment and was able to start experimenting slowly with colored pencils in May 2020 and moved into my first real painting (watercolor) in Nov 2020.
It’s been a real joy for me, but I know perhaps not so much for my followers. My work ebbed and flowed and has looked nothing like my previous work. I know people are confused about my style. My supporters probably feel like I am suffering from multiple personality disorders on the creative plane. From animals to abstracts, to dioramas and exploration of pop culture icons I feel honored to be able to create anything at all – especially touching real mediums.
What I have come to understand as a creator is that not everyone can keep up and follow along to join me on this expansive journey. I have always been an artist who has been expansive by creating art, photography and books, yet they all seemed to live in the same world. However, my creations now all seem to live on other planets and don’t recognize one another. It is vulnerable and challenging.
It was like one day I work up and my weight change drastically, my clothes did not fit anymore, my hair was not the same color and no one recognized me. Sure it is fun for a minute but after a while, it feels so strange to shift so much that you are almost unrecognizable to even yourself.
Famous (and unknown) artist and musicians have changed their style dramatically to be shunned harshly by the world and abandoned by colleges, friends, and supporters. Many people lock into you for “what you are” and not “who you are” and when “what you are” changes they can’t resolve that in their mind and must move on. Life is full of these kinds of interactions. we grow and some people come and some go. That’s life.
At this moment I feel vulnerable, unsure of who I am or where I want to go. At times I want to go back to digital painting and call back to the style everyone knows, (Yes I will always make digital art), to feel safe in a world that myself and others are familiar with.
I have tried many things, many of which failed but I know that my true creative and expansive self can’t stop now. I can’t go back to who I once was, I can only be who I am. The messy, voiceless at times, experimental chaos that lives inside of me. What is a voice or a style if you can’t break the mold and become something new? Nothing.
Break the mold always.
Even if you are the only one supporting you.
Just know I care. I believe in your beautiful mess. It’s raw, honest, and free. That is what true creativity is!