It’s been awhile since I have posted about inspiration, but I think this fits neatly into what I’m already doing. This past weekend, I went to Semi-Permanent in Sydney. It is a design conference that features speakers from all art disciplines. Basically, the speakers talk about their career and their work and how they got to where they are today. The simplicity of the event is rather stunning….as I found out, you take from it what you want. Maybe you just want to hear some creatives talk about their work, be entertained and nothing more or you want to truly be inspired. My reasons for going were somewhere in between. First, I wanted a little “professional development”. While that can be a dreaded phrase in any profession, I truly like going to events like these if they are well organized and I get something out of them. Since I am a former teacher, I’ve been to my share of bad professional developments. Or in the case of my former school, meetings parading around as professional development. So, I just wanted to hear people talk about their work…or to be cliché, their creative process. Second, I was hoping that by listening to the speakers I would approach my work and self-promotion with an open mind. While I don’t want to go as far as to say that I have had a creative block, I have felt that I needed to view my journey into freelance illustration a little differently. When you are going at it on your own, it is easy to doubt yourself when the work isn’t just flowing in.
After spending almost an entire Saturday at the Sydney Convention Centre listening to the speakers at Semi-Permanent, I definitely took care of my first goal. Even if the speakers weren’t the motivational speaker type, their work more than made up for it. Honestly, I can’t say I would act much differently. Artists have this bad habit of just wanting to create. The second goal is a little murkier. It did give me a new sense of purpose when looking at my work. I guess that often sounds corny, but I walked into the day with that goal in mind, so it was a little more calculated than me just saying, “I was inspired!” As for my view of self-promotion, I’m not sure. One constant theme running through the presentations was that clients approached them. They rarely went to find the work that pays their bills and puts food on their table. At first, I wanted to say, “C’mon! There has to be something!” Self-promotion exists for a reason so it is frustrating to hear that a lot of artists get approached instead of looking for the work themselves. After I thought about it, though, I think there is truth to what they say, but it is only part of the truth. I believe successful artists and designers and illustrators have committed themselves to art. And from their commitment, someone along the way gave them a break. And that break led to other breaks and eventually clients were approaching them. Their commitment and talent and dedication to art is really what made them successful. They aren’t necessarily successful because they had great self-promotion. As a freelancer, it is not the first thing you want to hear. It isn’t neat and or tidy and it doesn’t look good in a list of Ten Things to Make You a Genius at Self-Promotion, but I believe it to be the truth. So, I might want that magic answer, but I think the best thing to do is keep creating, keep making contact with people, and keep searching and my break will be around the corner.