My Journey To Creative Freedom
It has always been my dream to be an “artist”. I love to draw, and I’ve always wondered, what if I could make a living doing what I love? But something has always held me back.
I never liked the idea of selling and even before I learned about the First Things First Manifesto in my design history class – I have vowed to only use my creativity to create with a purpose, meaning or personal connection. For me, making art should be pure and not motivated by money or profit. That’s why when I graduated from university, I steered away from advertising agencies or any work where I had to sell an idea I don’t believe in. I took odd jobs until I ended up in the printing industry working as a print or prepress operator. I hid my creativity in journals and used personal projects like Think Less Drow More as a creative outlet. I made artworks and comics and gave them away for free. I never tried to sell them. I learned to love my 9-5 jobs and accepted the fact that I am not an artist, just creative.
Fast forward to July 2014, I started wondering again. What if I could make a living doing what I love? All my life I have done what I had to do – study hard, work hard, save up, make my parents proud. The only thing I haven’t done in my 30 years of existence is pursue what I really want to do. So I did it. I quit my job and pursued my dream of becoming an artist. I started my own creative studio, Drow More Creative and I built this website. I came out of my shell and jumped on the instagram band wagon so I could share my process. And eventually, I did what I vowed never to do and I sold my art on products, tee shirts, cushions and prints. I began to understand why artists sell their work. We live in a material world and we’re all just trying to make a living. And for unknown artists, e-commerce sites such as etsy, big cartel and society6 make it easier to get our work out there and reach out to people on a global scale. I adapted to this artist-entrepreneur movement because everyone was doing it and I wanted to belong. But I lost myself in the process because my work started to lose meaning.
By coming out of my shell, I became hollow because I had abandoned the essence of my artist soul. I have conformed and put myself out there but I felt like a fraud pretending to be who I thought I should be so people would accept me as an artist. I thought that selling my work would validate that my art is real and of value, but it didn’t because that’s not what matters to me. There was a constant battle inside of me and I kept asking myself, how could I be sad doing “what I love”? And then I realised that I’ve stopped loving it the moment I put a price tag on my work.
The truth is, I love to draw. I love the process of creating, story telling and making art about the things I believe in. I am happy to share my experiences, feelings and truths that may not mean anything to anyone else but me. It’s personal. That’s my art. That’s who I am as an artist.
Consumerism is all around us but what’s really depressing is that I have become a part of it. I got carried away with all the novelty that I lost sight of the things that inspire me to create in the first place. Now I know that in my heart of hearts, the reason I create is not to be popular, not to make profit but to be true to myself and to be free. I got so caught up trying to prove myself as an artist and trying to get that elusive validation, that I underestimated myself as a person by trying to change who I am.
I don’t care anymore if I am an “Artist” or not, the title is not important. What matters is having creative freedom, not corrupted or limited by the influence of money. So beginning today, 5 February 2015, I am setting myself FREE. My art is not for sale. I am changing my creative direction to the pursuit of pure inspiration and exploration of meaning. I’ll continue to share my art to the public and online, and if anybody appreciates my art, I am always keen to share or trade.
Whatever job I end up with, I will no longer be wondering “What if I could do what I love” because I will continue to do it everyday, one drawing at a time. The past 7 months has been a life changing ride, full of ups and downs, victories and failures, darkness and enlightenment, self doubt and self discovery. And I am a better and wiser person now because of it.
I would like to use this space to thank my family, friends and all the people that I’ve made real connections with through this journey. You have all restored my faith in humanity. And to my muse and soulmate, Kring, who has been there for me and with me through all this, who has seen me succeed and fail miserably but never once judged me, I thank you for going on this journey with me and for never letting me forget who I really am.
I want to end with a quote from Kurt Vonnegut:
“Write a six line poem, about anything. Make it as good as you possibly can. But don’t tell anybody what you’re doing. Tear it up into teeny-weeny pieces, and discard them into widely separated trash recepticals. You will find that you have already been gloriously rewarded for your poem. You have experienced becoming, learned a lot more about what’s inside you, and you have made your soul grow.”