Along my creative journey, I've been given a few permission slips, and I can't tell you how much they've helped! Permission to embark upon a creative career, permission to call myself a creative, permission to call myself an illustrator, permission to call myself... gulp... an artist. Each one has been a delightful nudge of encouragement for which I've been truly grateful.
I have no idea why we (I) need the permission. Perhaps being given a real badge, there's a feeling of having earnt a title - that feeling isn't so easily found when you teach yourself and figure it out solo. But I'd venture that's even more hard-earnt and worthy of the title you're doubting.
I sometimes wonder if growing up with the Spice Girls led me to think we should all fit a one word label. Academic Spice had all the badges I could have ever wanted but it wasn't where my world felt sparkly. Anything-Creative-Fun-And-Sporty Spice was more my speed but perhaps not so catchy.
When I had not long settled into illustrating, I was wandering along with a dear friend when he received a call from a mutual school friend. He passed the phone over for me to say hi. He cringed beside me as I stumbled my way through explaining what I was up to lately. Immediately after hanging up he lovingly shouted 'YOU'RE AN ILLUSTRATOR!! Repeat after me 'I"M AN ILLUSTRATOR". It helped. I worked on that the next time the chance arose to practice in conversation.
... You ARE a creative! Arise Sir Artist!
Without a job title and a badge, it can feel difficult to step up and label yourself until someone else does it for you. Perhaps it's a level of Britishness, but perhaps we all just need a permission slip sometimes.
It gave me great joy recently to pay this trick forwards with a homemade permission slip to someone else in the same boat.
Lately I've been getting more and more messages like this:
I really enjoy writing back to them because it's an incredible feeling to contribute to supporting and inspiring others. My replies mostly consist of urging people to find the joy in the process and to put to bed any notion of 'bad art' that might be getting in the way.
I genuinely do not believe in such a thing as 'bad' art. Plus who is judging it? And who are you using for comparison?
If your inner monologue sounds a bit mean, I like to imagine it was talking to Quentin Blake... one of my all time favourite artists.
Sorry Quentin, your portraits will never be good enough, just hide them away. It'll be a bummer for Roald Dahl and all those kids who LOVE your work, but I mean, this isn't far from a stick figure. Best stop there, you are RUBBISH at art.
Yours sincerely, The Good Taste In Art Society (I made that up).
I truly believe that if something in your heart wants to be let out onto paper, it's likely to make you feel good to do that. And it's very likely that in doing so, there will be someone out there who feels connected to what you've made. Certainly it can be hard to find all of those people around the world who love what you've made and you might never meet them, so in the mean time, it's your job to believe in your wonderful creative ability.
I think being an artist means having a vision you want to bring to life. It's tricky when your skills don't allow you to recreate that vision exactly as it exists in your mind. That gap does not mean you're making bad art, it means you're aware of the difference between your intended outcome and the reality while your skills develop. But the best part is, no one else can see what you had in mind originally and they might just love what came out instead.
I hope that your creative projects bring you joy, hope, calm, self expression and tonne of other magic which makes you happy, because just your happiness alone will make the world a better place.
I always love to see what you make.
Cheering you on from here.
Love, Lorna x