Confession of a Dying Artist

RIP Something inside of me started to die. It was a slow death. Barely noticeable. It went on for years. Somehow, I think I knew something was wrong but I couldn't put my finger on it.

I've spent years using my art (mainly graphic design) to support the cause or endeavors of others. That's what I get paid to do. To use my art to create a logo for someone's product, someones else's message slides, someone else's company and ideas. Nothing wrong with that. But, I finally realized what had been slowly dying all these years. My personal art expression. My message. My voice in my art.

Doing design for others isn't the correct place to insert your personal message/expression. I'm hired to communicate their message, their identity. BUT I came to realize that I had stopped pursuing avenues of my own expression. And it slowly began shortly after graduating art school.

Earlier this year, I began a journey back to my passion - creating art "just because". Creating because my soul needed to. Creating art not for the masses but for personal expression. And something wonderful happened. I felt the cold dead place inside start to come back alive.

I made a fatal error early on in my design career. I don't even know if it was conscious (I don't think it was). I took on an either/or approach to my art. Either I could do commercial work (and get paid for it), or do personal art expression (and not get paid for it). And just like the carpenter who lives in a home where the carpentry needs go unmet - I felt like after doing "art" all day long who had time or energy for more when I got home?

When it comes to creating commercial and personal art, it isn't about either/or but rather and/both. Both are vital to creative health. Who knows, maybe one day the two lines will blur more for me and I'll get paid to create my personal expression art. But until then, I'm making sure I don't loose sight of pursuing both.

What about you? Do you ever feel that tension?


Illustration by Mike Brennan