An Artist on Hiatus
Hello world, I’m back. Many of you out there didn’t even notice or care, but I’ve been radio silent for months. An artist on hiatus. Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit. On occasion, I have shared funny tweets or a cute puppy video, but original content, no. My website has been in the dark for a few months, my very lively Instagram account is practically gone and my Facebook and Twitter are barely hanging on.
It’d be very romantic to say that I was focusing on me and trying to find the true meaning of life and all that. However, in reality, I was very much bummed. In denial because I don’t want to say I was depressed; but the symptoms were there. After building up expectations the last Yoga Expo could not meet, I crashed and burned. I worked for months and months to make that show the best and double my earnings from last year. When that didn’t happen, I was sad, to say the least and really worn out. The show was in April, but I had been preparing for it for almost a year. I had so many items to sell each of which I painstakingly made by hand. My booth displays I also, single-handedly, made by hand. So much work and very little payout. All the hours of work and late nights suddenly came crashing down on me and I felt drained of all creativity and overall energy.
The result, total blackout. I refused to post anything anywhere. I feel horrible because my website features the work of other artists in the monthly spotlight feature. It’s something that brings me joy, but it is also A LOT of work. Energy that I just didn’t have to spare. I would do the bare minimum at my day job, and nothing at home. After work I’d get home, walk the dogs, eat, and finally sleep. Wake up and start all over again. I would only cook and clean when I absolutely had to.
I knew that this was temporary, but I couldn’t figure out how to get out of the funk. I quite literally did not want to make anything. I didn’t even want to get near my supplies. I just kept piling stuff on top of my art table, almost to hide it. Hide my lack of creativity and the shame that was building rapidly.
Rationalizing my situation I realized that sometimes you must allow yourself to be upset and sad for a bit. I’ve been putting myself out there and my business for a while now, but I’ve been careful about it. I haven’t gone crazy pushing my brand to all I know. So, I haven’t had any real let downs. I’ve only encountered people who like my work. Financial goals were not something I was setting up. I was doing it for fun. I started to get serious about money and at the first sign of not reaching a certain goal, I crashed.
The ideas and goals I set up were overwhelming. Especially for one person doing it all, from creating the items to advertising and listing them. Not to mention, that this isn’t my day job. I manage a small internet company that requires a lot of my time and energy during the day. Some days, by the time I get home, my brain is fried.
Quite the pity party I made just for me. Even though I allowed myself to wallow in my own disappointment I realized that I was being a total loser. I hadn’t really lost money, I had a roof over my head, my health, and most importantly, I had the unconditional love and support of my hubby and family. Frankly, I was upset with myself for being so down over nothing. But it was like a physical reaction; as if my serotonin levels were out of whack. I’m sure there are many of you out there that have gone through a similar thing or you are going through it now. Whether it’s a disappointment in your art career or in another aspect of your life, these events can really screw with your emotions and your mind. It’s then when you realize that saying was right all along. Mind over Matter, but when your mind is not right nothing else matters.
Now, how did I pull myself out of it? First, I removed guilt from the equation. I allowed myself to feel the way I was feeling without passing judgement on myself. After all, we tend to be our harshest critiques. I refused to continue making myself feel bad for feeling bummed. Honestly, I started slow, and I started cleaning. I rearranged my studio space and moved my desk to a more comfortable place. Even though it took over a week to do, I organized everything. All the drawers where arranged and my desk is now easy to use. My materials have new homes where I can easily access them. I did the same at work. I had let piles of paper accumulate, even my boss noticed. Staying late organizing and sifting through old papers proved to be worth it. There is a huge sense of accomplishment when you can see the clean top of a desk. Furthermore, I cleaned my car. I hand washed and vacuumed it. It is so refreshing to get in my car now. I extended my cleaning spree to my purse. I still have a few spaces to go in my home to feel like it’s all done, but for now, these main spaces have cleared my head enough to start focusing on my little business again.
Then, I started really thinking about the purpose of my work and my website. I realized quickly, that I was so caught up in following the footsteps of other successful artists and entrepreneurs that I overwhelmed myself. There is no greater truth, simplicity is always better. Wanting to do it all is not smart. That’s how I drained myself in the first place. I can’t create, blog, feature other artists, tweet, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Instagram live, Facebook live, Youtube, and then be expected to schedule it all so neatly that it goes on a monthly loop. All the while, I have 3 dogs and 2 cats, a husband, parents, and a full other online business to take care of. Every day all day. Somethings gotta give, right? There is so much expectation and the weight of that quickly drowns you in despair. I had to dig deep and remember the happiness I felt when I shared things on social media just for the purity of connecting. Just because you have a business or a brand doesn’t mean you can’t organically and naturally share random stuff. Not everything has to be color coordinated or in a perfectly photo-shopped spread. I reached 2000 Instagram followers naturally and in perfect harmony with my everyday life. It was only when I started mimicking the accounts of other artists and entrepreneurs that I couldn’t handle the pressure.
The next decision I’ve made was the toughest and scariest because I don’t want to sell myself short or cut myself out of potential business, but I’ve decided that being on every platform all the time is not the best way to grow my business. It’s controversial. Some bloggers out there say to be on everything, others say just be on two sources. What I’ve noticed on my hiatus is that followers don’t just drop you. I haven’t really lost many and I haven’t posted anything in months. I’ve actually gained a few and gotten views on my Facebook page without doing absolutely anything. What does this mean? Well, that maybe if you work too hard you’re actually doing yourself a disservice.
Finally, the last piece of my puzzle was to decide how my website would function. It had to go through a bit of a reconstruction. It’s great to feature the work of other people, but it was putting on so much pressure on my weekly social media engagement. I promised these artists the moon and the stars. It was a great deal for them. They answered a few questions, while I promoted them for an entire month. Although I felt as though I was doing something great for society, it was really draining and I wasn’t really getting a great return on my invested time. I wasn’t getting any more views on my website and no one was buying my products. So I had to face it, the spotlight feature as it stood was not working for me. With great sadness, I’ve had to say goodbye to it. Well, not entirely. Features will now be regular blog posts. Everything from now on will be a regular blog post. I’ll blog about whatever I want. I’m an artist and I’m random. And that is ok!
This was quite a long post, but I wanted to keep all of you wonderful people in the loop. For all of you that signed up for the Spotlight Feature you’ll be featured before the end of the year in the form of a blog post. It will be much easier for you and I to share the post when it goes live and the link will be active for the life of the blog. I love featuring female crafting entrepreneurs and artists, so if you have anyone you’d like to feature, please send them over.
I’ll be releasing a monthly newsletter that will feature coupons for my shop and current TonicARTistry events and collaborations. On that note, if you’re interested in collaborating with me, whether its via creating on Etsy or Blog related, let me know.
I hope you enjoyed this post even though its long. I’d love to hear about your journey in the art and creative world. Please share! Let’s start a conversation.