So here I am. In bed with a cup of hot chocolate and reeling from the days events. I know having a good old moan on social media isn’t #inspo but I am feeling lost, stuck and rubbish.

Today I had to go under general anesthesia to do some intense procedures and tests to rule out yet more crap things that my body seems to want to throw at me. I don’t write this to be like, oh you poor thing “you ok hun”. I write this because having it all floating around my head and inside of me is quite literally eating at me.

I mainly wanted to write an update on how my work and illustration is going and I feel like not many illustrators or artists really share online when things are SHIT.

I feel like I am watching the world around me succeed and do well, and I celebrate it I REALLY DO.

DSCF0670But here I am left, days spent in bed, feeling awful about my abilities to create. Feeling like I am not succeeding or getting anywhere. Feeling like everything I create is pointless and just silly and amateur. I feel like a massive imposter and like my work doesn’t do or say anything and I don’t quite know how to go forward with that. I just feel like a massive failure in terms of trying this hard slog of being an illustrator. I have posted to my social media for two years everyday and feel like I am in the exact same position. It feels like no one is really willing to work with me or that I am indeed talented enough to find work. Also feeling like I have had the choice taken from me. I feel like I have been given the bad luck of the draw. I am yet to see what I am supposed to learn from this other than to give up?

I am struggling and feeling like I am fighting every day to make my mark. To be successful. To get published. To get clients. To get a little recognition for all the hard work I have been putting in. And it just seems to be going no where. I have been told that I can’t work. But this goes against what I want and who I am. I want to make something, be successful and be the best I can be. There are just so many obstacles in my way though, that it is hard to know where to start or how to begin. Even the baby steps I am making seem pointless and they are not adding up. People keep telling me it will happen and its just persistance and that pays off. But what I keep asking myself is when? When will I get lucky. I ask for little. I would just like to create everyday and work for myself in an environment that makes me happy and I get to do what I treasure and love. Why does this seem to come with such a heavy price?

I shall write a list of my worries and updates. And I would appreciate any advice there is to give with my work and what steps o can take. Because at the moment I feel shit, like a talentless joke. Like a comedy contestant on xfactor whose friends and family are too polite to say other wise.

I feel stuck in which direction to take things in. I feel like it is such a over saturated market to get into. How do I get my stuff out there? I constantly feel like there is some secret I am not privy to and also feel like a lot of creatives like to keep their tricks hidden as so not to get competition.

Over all I am tired of my health situation and all the unfair hold ups and being held up. I just am at the point of giving up really as it’s not bringing me joy and I feel blocked, stuck and in a loop of throwing all my limited energy at something I dear;y love only for it to fall on deaf ears.

How can I get better and how can I forfill my dream/goals?

Not to be overly dramatic but writing this has made me have a HUGE CRY.

Here are some things I feel:

-Everyone else is taking over the world and getting all these amazing chances. How? What’s the secret?

-What am I doing wrong?

-What if  I am just another creator trying to make it in the big pond

-What if its true that I am actually no good

-Why is everyone else super productive and confident an getting chances

-Is it all just smoke and mirrors, are platforms such as instagram and youtube just showing the best bits. Not these gritty behind the scenes sadness and panic sessions?

IMG_8682I would really love some feedback, even if it’s anonymous and even if it’s not kind. I would just love to get out of this horrible cycle I have found myself in.

I don’t have much energy left to fight anymore and after an awful experience working in a company where you were constantly made to feel like you were at the bottom of the ladder and there was no way of climbing up it and that you were/are a terrible designer and creator and are worthless. Well I am feeling that. I am feeling my body giving up on me. And I am just tired. I don’t want to take a break, I do want to push through. But what direction do I take? How do I get over this feeling that everyone else is doing it and I am still making baby steps. I still feel like I am at the bottom of the ladder and not good enough to “make it”.

It’s so hard when you are doing it alone and for yourself. I feel lonely here without any type of peers to cheer me on or give me feedback. I long to have a community round me where I can feel my best and work and get inspired and be able to create and get feedback.

SO  I always feel like there is a massive pressure to do something. To be someone and to be succesful. I have a HUGE fear of not doing what i always imagined, not being able to do what I always wanted.

So that’s my update, life you are a shitter sometimes.


7 thoughts on “Stuck 

  1. Heya. I wanted to say….Big hug. Its absolutely ok and understandable having those feelings either as an artist or someone who is seriously, chronically ill – you have both to deal with! Every creative professional I know struggles with massive self-doubt so yes to your last point about smoke and mirrors. Massively so! I would ask yourself whose standards are you judging yourself against – yours/industry/friends and family ?? – and are they reasonable/attainable? To find others in a similar field – and maybe spark some creative juices – could you set a meet up over coffee or social media to brainstorm ideas or a question a week….? Like an online art forum? I hope it settles for you into something less self-critical. Be gentle and kind to yourself xx

    1. Hello! Firstly thank you so so much for your wonderful comment. I feel like the support that has come out through this post has been so so awesome and people are generally amazing! I am coming to terms with my limitations (slowly) but it still feels so unfair and I get cross and angry to see my peers doing so well (well not angry for them at all, I celebrate them) but honestly angry at my inability to be able to do the same. I think instagram and places has a lot to answer for! I constantly judge myself against my friends and peer’s successes and I don’t really know how to stop. I don’t really know which direction to take stuff in or who I am after you strip away the illness and the artist stuff and thats scary! I want to start a lonely artists art club and get together online via skype or something to talk through this stuff. Thank you again, your comment has made me think a lot. Lots of love and light sent your way xx

  2. Hello. I was going to send you a private message about this, but I think since you’ve been brave and put it out there, I’ll be brave too comment publicly.

    Firstly, it is sad to hear you feeling so frustrated and worn down by it all at the moment. I can’t say anything about having a chronic illness because it’s not something I’ve experienced, but I know creating work while dealing with your illness is a massive challenge for you, and you have shown amazing resilience and commitment in developing your practice that you should be immensely proud of. But it also chimes in with what so many people feel, including me – that I know you are not alone. I’ve been thinking about this all a lot really, and am in the process of writing a blog post about it, so I had to let you know what conclusions I’ve come to in case they might be helpful…

    I think social media is a double edged sword. On one hand it can be inspiring and useful to see other people succeeding, and it can keep you motivated when you get positive feedback. On the other it can make you feel judged, like you aren’t achieving at the same rate/ scale as others, and set unrealistic expectations based on a few very lucky people who happen to be social media success stories. I think people should use social media in whatever way it suits them, and for some people who work very quickly like August Wren posting every day can work really well. However, for those of us who have things in the way whether that be illness, caring for children, having a full time job, having a personal crisis or just being a slow worker, it can add a lot of unnecessary pressure. I see a lot of artists putting things on social media every day and I feel like I’m lazy/ hopeless for only posting once a week. But I’ve also made the choice NOT to post very often, because I need to devote the small amount of time I have to make art towards working on more developed pieces, and because I am tired of feeling pressured to always make my life look amazing and magical. It seems to be seeping into everything – you don’t just have to make good work, you have to have a beautiful house, find time to go on amazing adventures, have wonderful pets or children who you have energy to hang out with, look good, eat well….it’s all too much, out lives are not show windows!

    I also feel frustrated with all this ‘colour palette’ ‘branding’ stuff that seems to have become to accepted visual language for instagram in particular. I think if you are a designer, maker or artist with one distinct style that works great, but for those of use who are constantly experimenting, relating and responding to our lives and the world around us through our art, it can be really limiting and trapping. For example, I desperately want to experiment with new illustrations for children and also try making some more ‘serious’ political work, but I feel like if I do either of these I’ll lose the little interest I have generated for my work. That’s really boring, artists should feel free to change their minds! Because of this I’ve stepped back from my instagram a bit. I see Stories In Paper as one element of my work, but in the background not on social media I’m going to let myself try some new things and see what happens.

    I also think that when you read the stories of people who have been social media success stories it’s really important to remember they are the tiny few. There are also thousands of talented artists who didn’t get their work picked up, or who sent portfolio after portfolio out and got rejected for years before anything happened for them. The way the internet makes out, you just have to be committed and persistent, but in reality this isn’t true. It’s a harsh industry that is difficult to make a living in, no matter how deserving people are. Some people are lucky and get seen by the right person, others just happen to hit a trend, and some have loads more time, money and the other resources that help people ‘make it’. And then I of course some keep going and build it all up very very slowly.

    I think you ARE very good, but as I’m sure you know, the person who has to believe that is you! We all have breakdowns and crises about our work (I mean, I was literally crying two days ago about how little I have achieved and how confused I am about my work, but then I have had people tell me that look at my work and think the opposite!). I always assume the people living the dream will have them less but maybe they have them too about the expectation or pressure they are under. I understand how frustrating it is when you have put so much in, but the thing is, you aren’t anywhere near where you were two years ago! Look at how much work you have made, and how much you have improved you drawing and digital design skills, all while dealing with your illness and having loads of treatment. If you are happy with your work and like it (at least a fair bit of the time!), that is what you should remember, not to compare yourself. I sometimes write down 10 things I’ve done in the last year I’m proud of to try and remember I’m on my own journey not in a race. But this is all easier said then done I know!

    On a more practical note, I think the ‘nasty women’ series in a massive leap forwards, as it takes your ‘head hermits’ and puts them in a really relevant context. It is awesome work, it might just take a while for people to find it! I am so looking forward to your ‘In sickness and in health’ comic being finished, and I’ve told several of my friends with autoimmune diseases about it. (I feel like such a fan here!) I think often when artists make these big leaps they inevitably get really down if there is no increase in the interaction and feedback they are getting.

    In terms of getting your work out there, please put up more digital prints on Etsy as there are SO many amazing images on your instagram I would like to own, and I’m sure I’m not alone. Also, I noticed your portfolio isn’t working and apparently this is the most important thing to have online as it’s where art directors and other people will go to first if they like your own on social media.

    I did this great online course last year that Amy Ng from Pikaland ran where she shared loads of helpful information about getting your work out there, and had some really good points about why social media lets us down. She’s not running that course again this year, but she is running one about developing your style and marrying it with the messages that are important to you as an individual? I can’t find the link on her blog but I’ll PM it to you. I just saw though that she offers free short course if you sign up to her newsletter, but you seem quite clear about your style to me.

    Anyway, I’m aware I’ve written an essay here and I’m sure I’ve told you lots of things you already know. But I hope this and the other responses you have had help you find a way through this that makes you happier. xxx

  3. Hello Sarie! OK here is my reply that I said I would write. I hope I don’t come across like a harsh old cow. I want to preface this by saying I DO feel the same, and it is only when I’m on the other side of it that it seems easy to see the answers, or to approach things differently, but I know what it feels like to be ‘stuck’ in this place. As I was reading it, the questions that sprung to my mind were things like:

    Do you really want to be seen, and why? By who?In what way?
    Have opportunities not come because you’re waiting for them to come to you, or are you approaching people? If you are approaching, are you approaching people / places that are suitable to you, or approaching in the right way?

    and then with the illness, a lot of questions for me revolve around – are certain things right for you? I mean, you (and many others) are always doing all of these social media creative ‘challenges’ and while it can seem like a good way to be seen and keep momentum, is it right for you? Or is it another things that can easily make you feel like you’ve failed if you can’t keep up? Do you need to change pace? Because that is OK.

    I think a lot of my problems stem from looking at the wrong people online. A lot of these ‘success’ cases are twenty something bloggers talking about jeans and lipstick, and while that’s nice and I’m happy for them, I’m a 30 something artist so why the fuck am I looking and comparing myself? I don’t want to be doing what they are doing, I am not their target audience, and it’s all smoke and mirrors anyway.

    I think what I want to say is, find the right person you admire and keep them in mind. Or think very carefully about what you REALLY want and not what you ‘think’ you should be doing because X,Y and Z are. Do I make any sense?! Ugh, sorry if not. Please rant at me any time xxx

  4. PS: I forgot. this is cheesy, but I’ve been thinking a lot recently – remember when Banksy said something like ‘anonymity is a super power’ ? Well, maybe not having 40k followers online right now is a good thing for us all. Imagine the stress of feeling like you need to feed them with perfection every day. Keep your head down, do the work you LOVE at the best quality that you can and just do it at your pace.

  5. Hi Sarie!

    Sorry you feel this way but I think most creative people get stuck in these ruts sometimes. I know it’s hard to pull yourself out of it, but I think the best way to do this is to stop putting pressure on yourself (easier said than done but true), and as Sarah’s comment above says, think about why and who you are comparing yourself to and why. Comparisons don’t help anything, ever. Social media can be the most evil tool for this, and when you find yourself doing it, I think the best thing to do is a. switch it off, b. unfollow the people who make you feel bad. you will start to feel liberated. Also I totally agree with Sarah the maybe having little followers online can be a benefit right now!

    I used to do it at work all the time, why is such and such paid more than me at the same age – why do they have a better title, why are they promoted and I’m not? Things like that. It is not useful though. It doesn’t help you on your own path. You need to work out what you want and how you will get there yourself. It’s this confidence in yourself that will help you to make a success and achieve your goals!! Im getting a bit better at it and it helps.You need to distinguish thoughts that are useful or not useful and banish the non useful ones!

    I thought I would also answer your questions!

    Everyone else is taking over the world and getting all these amazing chances. How? What’s the secret? –

    There is no secret (not that I know of anyway! and I do make money from my freelance illustration work and my full time job is related). For me my portfolio and blog have been the reason I have EVER got any work. Work has never ever come through social media for me. So – my tip would be, keep updating and plugging at this space! Keep updating your portfolio. I have had my blogs for over 10 years and a lot of the time I was updating them a LOT (not lately as ironically too much work haha). And the work came in when I was posting work I did FOR FUN and FOR ME and that I liked and didn’t fit into anyone else ideas. It’s only in the past year I have been getting regular work and it’s also benefited me to get better day jobs. Also making sure you are always on time, quick to respond to emails, meeting deadlines and not overcharging.

    -What am I doing wrong? I do this all the time but try and think about what you are doing RIGHT! You have your own space online which you created yourself, you do have a following online which is bigger than plenty of people have. You are creating an aesthetic and work you like and want to do! Some of the most popular people have slogged for a long long time. Think about someone like Grayson Perry! He didn’t find success until his late 30s/40s! I went to a talk by him recently and he said he was lucky he had a wife who could help support him when he wasn’t making any money whatsoever!! Its good to read stories from artists or creators of all walks of life, and ones offline as well as online I think. The only person that ever holds anyone back is themselves and a lack of confidence, remember that!

    -What if I am just another creator trying to make it in the big pond – you are, but theres room for everyone, there isn’t a limited space. I think thats important to remember that too. Also people get bored of the same artists/styles so theres always room for new people, and people will always swap between what artwork they like or dislike. It’s an unlimited space!

    -What if its true that I am actually no good – you should read Malcolm Gladwell’s book – Outliers. He says anyone can be good at anything if they put in 10,000 hours. It’s a special rule 🙂 you should read it. Im sure you’ve put in your 10,000 hours by now!! Also again, this is not a helpful thought 🙂 try and think about why you are good!

    -Why is everyone else super productive and confident an getting chances – A lot of peoples lives are not what they seem, first of all, and I think deep down you know that! Productivity – I think some people work quicker than others too. The best thing to do with this is schedule your time well I believe. Force yourself to do it. I learned that in CBT, this thing called ‘behavioural activation’ – google it – it helps a lot with anxiety and depression. Chances, are luck and persistence. If you put yourself out there enough and for long enough, you will start to get noticed, fact! Just make sure as Sarah said you are approaching people that are a good fit for you.

    -Is it all just smoke and mirrors, are platforms such as instagram and youtube just showing the best bits. Not these gritty behind the scenes sadness and panic sessions? – yes and I think you know that!

    Feel free to message me on Facebook if you ever want any help with anything (not that I know what I’m doing!!)

    Please keep up the good work and don’t ever give up on your dreams!


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