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Advice from a Newby to a Newby by Allison Howard
Hello, my name is Allison Howard and an Illustrator/Author on the Creative Kids Tales site and one of the illustrators on the 2017 CKT collective (and one story). I am mainly an illustrator and I have all the fine art degrees you can think of all the way from Diplomas to Masters, I have run the full gamut; (still thinking of doing my PhD but have to convince my family first.) I am still considered an emerging artist, as I haven't had my "big break" yet, but still working on it.So how did I end up here, writing a blog for the CKT, I hear you ask?
My journey is not an exciting one, but I feel it is one of perseverance, which is something you need to have when embarking down this path. Let me start at the end of my scholastic journey and the start of my "real" world experience.
At the end of November 2011, I was a little nervous, winding up my Masters of Fine Arts degree at Monash University. Setting up for my first solo exhibition, and excited about the future. I knew what was going to happen, I was going to leave my Dental nurse career behind and stride out into the art world, get involved, and make art that people would respond to and remember. However the main thing I was experiencing was a little nauseous, occasionally ravenous, but mostly just exhausted.
What do you think happened next?
At 37 years of age, I was just leaving university, applying for job positions along with 60 other "more experienced" people, and newly pregnant!!! How do you think I went?
No galleries or even retail stores would look at me. NO matter, that was all right as I wanted to start my own craft business and sell my wonderful illustrations/textile work at markets, become successful and make my fortune that way. How do you think I went?
OK, with my failing craft business, a demanding toddler, a stressed-out husband, and not being able to afford childcare or save to buy a house. I swallowed my pride and headed back into Dental assisting. What a quick round trip that was.
During this time all my creativity started to slip away. My brain filled up with distraction, worry, stress, no sleep and frustration. Every time I tried to create, all I was faced with was a massive blank page and a strange humming sound in my head. So I stopped. I even found it hard to read which was the absolute worst. However do not feel awful for me, all was not lost.
In the middle of 2014, my amazingly intuitive cousin Kim (awesome lady) put me onto the wonderful 52 Week Illustration Challenge founded and run by Tania McCartney and Kirsty Collett, and I got involved. I started drawing and creating again, and as I started posting regularly, I could feel my old-self starting to come back. I started to draw again and paint and even get back into my embroidery work. Then the best thing happened I found my arty/crafty again, it was, and still is wonderful.
This is where Georgie Donaghey and her Creative Kids Tales initiative came in.
As I got more involved with the illustration group. I started chatting to other members, and I found out about Georgie and how her site helps support illustrators and Authors alike and was another way to promote your work. So I got on board and when the opportunity came up to help illustrate the CKT Collective book I jumped at it.
Now here I am with my big toe in the door of life again, instead of white noise, I see numerous amounts of colours and the sound of clarity. So this is how I came to be here. What advice can I give you when you are faced with challenges written above?
1 – MOST IMPORTANTLY - Learn to say NO to projects
I have completed drawings and undertaken projects for people where it has been a complete waste of time and to add insult to injury, these people expected this work to be for free. Not only is that frustrating but also heart breaking as you start to realize that no one really appreciates your time or hard work. So my tips for recognising this are:
- They start asking you by saying "In you spare time can you ……"
- They become difficult with your suggestions on how you will complete the work.
- Demanding unrealistic time frames usually this starts out with "Oh you could whip something up couldn't you?...."
- Or they tell you it will be easy "Anyone can do it surely?"
2 - Correct people when they tell you your art is a hobby.
If you listen to these people and not debate them, you will start to believe it and then your work will become mediocre. Don't let anyone else get inside your head; it is your own space, leave the negative strangers out.
3 – Most of all take the time to find your own "Style".
Create the way you want, not according to how you tube tells you, your teachers, or what you learnt at University. Appreciate what you do, and how you do it, and WHY your do it. Then no matter how many people respond to your work you will be at peace with it and that is what we all are searching for.
Good luck my friends and I hope to see you all on the other side of Newbiedum xoxo