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  • Writer's pictureNikki Dee

What I've Learned in My First Year as an Artist...during a Pandemic

Insurmountably massive quantities of things is the exact total of things I have learned about myself, being an artist, and waging the war against the Pandemic. Here are some of my top thoughts:

  1. Listening is BIG. Join an art group for feedback, ideas and inspiration. Or, accidently take over the art group because you're a graphic designer and enjoy prompting others (True story). These short term but low stress goals are good at keeping your art muscles exercising without "training for a marathon". Genuinely great people are there to give you feedback, encouragement and a safe place to work out kinks! You can do the same for your areas of interest: a sudoku group if you like logic, a amateur photography group, there are even Reddit groups just for mechanics to share tactics and how they have overcome fixing certain problems. It's free lessons, it's hands-on experience and it's there for absorbing. Use it!

  2. You are still the same, just magnified. For your strengths, this is a good thing. For your weaknesses, this will be a test. I love setting my own schedule becasue I do not fit into the 40 hr 8-5 vibe most people do. Time is often a big factor that leads me to feel anxious. If I feel inspired to work at 7:30 at night, I still get credit. If I have an open Saturday afternoon I want to use for projects, I don't need to worry about if my boss will okay me working "off the clock". As for weaknesses, they will be easier to give into, so you've GOT to keep a healthy habit around them. Working from home means being very close to ALL of my food and drinks, I had to start keeping a chart next to my desk so I know which snacks I've already eaten. I LOVE SNACKS. You'll know your own strengths and weaknesses, make them apparent- keep them in BIG BOLD LETTERS somewhere so you can literally keep an eye on yourself. Keeping your weaknesses in check can be your biggest strength.

  3. Every knock at your door isn't necessarily an opportunity for you. As you grow and try different things like working with different clients and attempting to take on new subjects/mediums/techniques will help you hone in on whether they are for you or not. I realized doing personal and pet portraits terrifies me. These people will immediately see if their loved ones soul is in your art. Am I glad I stressed out so I know that I may not want to take that on next time? You bet! Am I glad I could make my friends something very personal, absolutely. Will I accept other projects like this? I'm ready to tell people "I'll think about it" without feeling the obligation to say "Yes".

  4. Pursue your passions outside of art, they will still funnel back. It's a natural way of building a network of potential work/connections. I am still baffled at the amount of jobs that exist that I never heard of until well into being an adult. People get paid to talk about their pets. People get paid to graffiti on walls. People get paid to make children's shows about how politics work. I picked up a new podcast highly recommended from the first podcast I worked with made by some good friends. I genuinely enjoy and started posting some art inspired by their adventures called "Dice Shame". They contacted me on social media with some great feedback about my designs. I politely asked if I could keep posting my art and asked if they would keep me in mind for any merchandise ideas. Sure enough, I got a project developing a few of their ideas later. Be honest, be clear and be true to yourself. People appreciate that.

  5. People who know you WANT you to succeed. Think of one of your close friends. If they opened a bakery nearby, would you want to go buy their goodies and sing their praises? Your crew wants to do that for you, so stop feeling bad about it. As long as you're not getting excessive, remember you are putting something into the world that they might want anyway. Let them help you by utilizing your skill and talent. Don't guilt or pressure, just put it out there and thank them kindly.

While I don't necessarily like blogging, I do enjoy sharing these stories and moments with you. I have this thing with trying to be humble and grateful, which can sometimes turn into me being really quiet and "not bothering people". It's not and I have to remind myself that. They can choose to read or not read, to buy or not buy, etc. Thank you for your support and your time. I wouldn't be where I am today if not for the support of so many friends and family throughout this weird year.

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