Recently, I had an opportunity to talk with Laura about her biggest insecurity as an artist, one I think all of us deal with or have dealt with at one time or another. What I found was that true joy, passion and fun - the kind we are lucky to have as children and even luckier if we can hold tight and not lose as adults - can defeat any demons. Furthermore, remembering to be thankful for the ability to create will allow you to wake each day with no shortage of artistic ideas.
Now, it is my great pleasure to share Laura's response to the question,
"What is your biggest insecurity about being an artist and how do you combat it?"
“I don’t consider myself an artist”. How many times have I seen those words appear in interviews with artists in the newspaper, magazine articles or on the front page of Etsy? I am amazed to see these incredibly talented, creative people make wonderful works of art and have successful businesses selling their wares yet they deny themselves the title of “Artist”. Truthfully, I’m not comfortable with the title either. I’m somewhat pleased when someone refers to me as an artist, but “Artist” just doesn’t quite fit. It’s like the little girl who dresses up in her mom’s high heels and makeup; she’s practicing what she wants to be but the shoes are still too big for her.
When Natasha asked me if I would be interested in writing for the Artist Play Date, she asked me to address my biggest insecurity about being an artist and how I combat it. I would have to say my biggest insecurity about being an “artist” is that someone, at any time, will figure out that I’m not really an artist. Like the "Emperor Who Has No Clothes", I’m just waiting for some smart-mouth kid to yell “she’s no artist! She’s got nuthin’!” Sometimes I feel I’m just one criticism away from boxing up all of my art supplies and selling them in a yard sale, because this is just a lie. After all, doesn’t a real artist have a large studio tucked away in the middle of nowhere, with huge windows overlooking the forest or mountains (or ocean or some other inspirational, breathtaking view)? Doesn’t a real artist take time to sit on her front porch, drinking green tea, contemplating the complexities of life, while her 5 cats nap peacefully on and around her?
I have loved doing art for as long as I can remember. In junior high and high school, I made sure there was an art class in my schedule every semester. I spent many hours in my room writing bad poetry and drawing colorful pictures. In college I only took a couple of art classes which I usually skipped. After college, I just tucked away most desires to do anything artistic. I always told myself that I would someday go back to college to get an art degree. That was before I knew how busy life gets and how demanding working, paying bills and other real world grown up things can be. Each year brought on new responsibilities and new interests until creating things didn’t seem at all practical to me.
In 2002 my son was born and 2 ½ years later I had a baby girl. As my son got older, he wanted me to make things for him. He would come up with the wildest ideas-many involved robots, dinosaurs, astronauts, etc.- and I found the more I made for him, the quicker I could come up with my own ideas. I liked making things for him because he didn’t have high expectations and I wasn’t too uptight about the end result. I became increasingly interested in creating and one day, my friend mentioned Etsy. In October 2007, I began selling some of my art online.
In the past 18 months, I’ve had some really fun opportunities regarding my creative endeavors. I’ve already surpassed any hopes and dreams I’ve ever had about my own art and yet things keep happening that allow me to continue. I’ve produced more art in this period of time than I have in my entire life combined. A friend asked me the other day what has triggered this new creative productivity and I’m just not sure. Maybe it’s because I’m in my mid 40’s and have to admit I’m middle aged. Maybe I don’t want to waste energy the second half of my life, denying myself the joy of creating something just for the purpose of enjoying the process. Maybe it’s the only way I know how to have something that belongs to me alone and isn’t connected to anyone or anything else that is defining who I am. Only God knows for sure.
What I do know, is that I’ve battled the little voice with the big mouth in my head for most of my life. I’m working on not giving her as much power as she has had in the past. If she says, “Wow Laura, what if this is the last idea you ever have?” Or “You know, don’t you, that this is all just a fluke and there are many people much more talented than you?” Instead of letting the negative energy guide me, I allow myself to calmly think, “Yeh, there are many, many people who are more creative than I am and it is possible I will never again have a creative idea. So what?” Really. So what? I’ve had so much fun and met so many great people because of this creative outlet. I am thankful and feel so blessed.
The thing is, with every new opportunity, I feel more confident and more energized, which makes me open myself up for more opportunities, (such as writing for the Artist Play Date). Ultimately, I believe the Creator of the Universe placed in many people, the desire and need to make things. I believe if that passion is in your soul, it is your job to do it, even if there is fear, insecurity and doubt. It’s nice to have people compliment what I make, but it is not the reason I make things. I do art because it is what my soul craves. Art helps me relax, it helps me connect with others, it gives me joy and makes me appreciate the world around me. It also gives me an excuse to spend lots of time and money at Hobby Lobby and to collect “treasures” I might make something with someday.
A few years ago, I was looking through an Oprah Magazine and ran across this quote by Vincent Van Gogh: “If you hear a voice within you saying, ‘You are not a painter,’ then by all means paint…and that voice will be silenced.” Words to live by, don’t you think?
For more of Laura's work, please visit her shop http://sleeplessimagination.etsy.com/ and her blog http://sleeplessimagination.blogspot.com/.
Laura, thank you for all that you create. You inspire many more than you will ever know. Keep dreaming, creating, writing and sharing!!