The in-between. The gap. The part no one really talks about a whole lot. The hard part. The learning curve. The trial and error. The mistakes. The setbacks. The failures. The days where you question yourself to no end. Those times when you feel overwhelmed with discouragement and just want to give up.
I’ve probably felt that way about 2,347,895 times in my daily journey to fulfilling my dreams. I don’t think you ever reach a point in your career or life where you feel like it can’t all just be taken away from you. That’s living with vulnerability and it’s hard.
I have days where I feel on top of the world! Where I feel so excited, so confident so full of energy with my artwork. Then I have days where I question it all. And I just feel like a stinky turd! haha.
The days where I hear, “We’ve decided to go in another direction” or “We don’t have a budget for artist work” or “They went with another artist.” Those days can be quite hard for me.
That is what I call the in-between days. The days where it goes from you having motivation, dreams, goals… and then boom you get hit with a tough rejection on a job you wanted, or a freelance project turns sour, or you aren’t landing work. And it feels so isolating and easy to feel like it’s time to just call it quits and go find a safe, secure, steady line of work. I didn’t get to the other side of my dreams without countless in-between days. I try really hard to share those days with my followers on Instagram. To be open about maybe I felt sad on this day because I didn’t get a job I really wanted. And it made me question, “Am I fooling myself with thinking I deserve a place there?”
For every in-between day I know it will be followed by a day of break throughs. Of hopeful opportunities and excitement. I work hard knowing, that my dreams are big and so the times when I am faced with adversity and resistance are just testing me to see how bad I want it. How much I am willing to believe in my self and stay dedicated to the path I am on? I’ve found out I am a lot stronger than I ever thought I was.
My 1st Etsy shop sale was a break through for me. I made $20 selling a sketch. I know, $20. But that $20 at that point in time felt like a $1000. When you are an artist you are told your whole life, you’ll be starving, you’ll never amount to any success and even if you do it will be long after you are dead. Nice messages to hear constantly right? And yet somehow, that never stopped me from wanting to be an artist. In fact, I knew I would be one. That has been such a guide to me my whole life. Not listening to others and staying true to my convictions.
I had a slow, sales the first year or two in my Etsy shop. I wasn’t really sure what I was doing. And my life was constantly changing as I moved states and was in a bad place in my relationship at that time. Slowly I started to devote more time to my creativity. I saw it as a gift to myself. That I was doing something that I knew, I would regret not giving my full attention and passion to. I remember coming home after shipping a few orders and thinking, “I wonder if I started shipping many orders everyday?” It was like this glimmer of hope in my mind. I was flirting with the possibilities of what could go right in my life.
It wasn’t too long after that that I was shipping multiple orders daily. In 2012 when I sold more than 6 figures income of artwork…I knew in my bones that my life was changing. I didn’t even realize how much money I was making. I was just happy to be creating and shipping. Then I saw the stats in my shop and was blown away. It was an omen. I felt extremely hopeful. And then the beginning 2013 I got a divorce. So as my career skyrocketed, my decade long relationship failed. It had been a long time coming, so I was grateful that I could lean on my art to not only help me emotionally express myself at that time but to monetarily pay for a life on my own for the first time.
My shop has evolved. Some years I haven’t been as fully devoted to it, because much of my career the last 5 years has been about illustrating for branding & editorial work. Stuff that I have always dreamed about doing. It’s challenging and demanding work, but it has allowed me to grow profoundly. Balancing my shop sales with licensing, and freelance work has been my day-to-day life as an illustrator and I love it. I am learning to slowly let go of trying to do it all, as I am now working with an agency to help with all the day-to-day stuff I don’t want to handle anymore.
But at the end of the day, my shop is what grounds me. Every small sale has lead to bigger things happening. Each person who purchases and leaves a note, or tells me they are loving a new series of work and can’t wait for it to enter my shop really allows me to feel at one with myself. I get to create what I want. No one tells me to change a damn thing. When I paint for myself, and share that work in my shop it ALWAYS has a positive effect on my life and the lives of others. My shop is about complete creative control and self expression. It’s opened more doors than I can even comprehend. It has been the platform for me that has truly changed the trajectory of my life. To reach 10,000 sales last week means more than I think I can process right now. I cannot thank everyone who has supported my shop all these years. You have no idea, what it means.
I hope you’ll see that I started from nothing. And I hope it will encourage you. I went from 0 sales to 10,000. And you can do anything you are fully passionate, and committed to. Remember that on the in-between days. Keep running your race. Stay in your lane, and embrace yourself. And enjoy it as much as possible.