Creating What is Popular Vs What is Unique

I have had this battle going on in my head when it comes to thinking up ideas and creating new artwork. It’s about creating what I want and what is liked.

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It comes from noticing trends and popular content on blogs and social media. In general I think there is nothing wrong with liking what is popular and current. It becomes popular for a reason, after all.

The battle with myself is that I want to be my own artist, I want to create work that is truly my own. So when I get an idea that uses millennial pink, or palm leaves I think ugh am I just never going to have an original thought ever again? Or am I just trying to be liked? Am I making stuff to just try and be part of the mainstream? Does worrying about this stuff make me one of those ‘I can’t like what is popular just because it’s popular’ people?

Rationally, I think the fact that I worry about that stuff means the answer is no.  Even if you feel inspired or intrigued by something that is very popular doesn’t mean you can’t pursue the inclination to create something that seems similar. I think just getting the idea out on paper will mean its out of your head, and you will develop these initial ideas in ways that are unique to you.  That’s what I’ve been doing lately. 

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I’ve given up the thought that these ideas aren’t unique or new, just to create them. I let go of the thoughts that were saying they needed to be a print, or a notebook or a greeting card. They just needed to be made so I can see what happens.

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In school we would have to copy the artwork of well renowned artists. In hindsight I realize it was to learn the techniques and skills used by artists before us so that we can then unlearn them, mash them together and experiment with our own mix of ideas. You can take something that is already there, pick it apart and find out what you like about it. Then use that to grow yourself.

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I think the main thing to keep in mind is your intention. Genuinely liking something is good, if it’s popular or otherwise. It means you are constantly developing as an artist. I have to keep reminding myself that actually I don’t feellike I need to pander, or feel like none of my thoughts are original any more. This is about revealing in what you enjoy, what cool things are out there at the moment and what that means to you. 

What's good about buying from Independent Artists?

I’m currently on a two week holiday and have spent the first week hanging out at home watching TV (Love Island mostly – I’m at a loss now that it’s over). I do not hang around at home doing next to nothing very often at all but I found myself taking in my surroundings. I was looking at a piece of artwork we have hanging on our wall in the living room and thinking about how no one else would have this painting. It got me thinking about commissioning work and why I’ve bought pieces in the past. It’s certainly been something I’ve thought about since putting up original pieces of my own in my shop. So what did I come up with…

It’s Unique

Commissioning art or buying original art means that only you have that actual piece of work. It can be tailored exactly to you.  Down to size, shape and function. We have some commissioned artwork in our home and people often comment on it when they visit.  My dad ordered a piece from an artist selling his work on ebay back in 2003. A few years later he wanted something else and went back to the same artist, who then had his own site and successful career. He was happy to work with us again and it felt like we were checking in with someone who valued and maybe even remembered us. It’s a different experience to buying a ready made thing. I’ve got a wall full of prints from artists I’ve connected with through social media and they all mean just that bit more.

You’re supporting Artists

This one is a big one for me, being one myself and knowing just how important it is to support peers. Buying from artists helps them with paying their rent right through to helping them increase their credibility. On the most basic level it means they are able to support themselves doing something that they love.  It will also mean that they can build themselves up to take on more opportunities (nice for them) and this in turn raises the opportunities for other artists (nice for you). Liking art work is, of course, lovely but engaging and supporting means that the art world and artists we love are able to grow and stick around for longer.

It’s an investment

Buying a limited edition print or original piece of artwork most of the time means it will increase in value. As the name of the artist rises so does the price tag. Not that you’d buy to sell on necessarily. We have a painting that my grandparents owned hanging in our house and it’s worth more than anyone would pay for it.

I can only dream you’ll be making an investment buying anything I have created. Sometimes it’s good to take a step back and I was pretty please with the results of this tangent my brain went on.

5 really awesome creative people to follow on instagram

I'm a big fan of instagram. I suppose it stands to reason as it's a visual platform and I'm a very visual person. I've found some very inspiring artists/people on it. I would say it's my biggest source of 'look at this person killin' it' kind of inspiration. I've shared just some of my favourite accounts below! 

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@thislakshmi

I've not followed Laxmi, artist and illustrator, for very long but I love her simple line drawings and beautiful brushwork. She also shares some shots of her own life and family with a very good eye for composition. Also, just seems totally cool. 

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@_nguan_

I think this photographer is very well known and very recognisable. I love their shots of regular life and people with the pastel tones of the finished image. 

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@creativehorders

Brooke Stonehouse is another illustrator who paints and draws with a lovely colour palette. The colours feed out into her other images of her trips, home and friends. I think she also has some fun iphone camera attachments which produce some pretty photos. 

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@eleanormeredith

I came across Eleanor's work at The Illustration Fair and was enchanted by her display. The work Eleanor produces just feels so delicate. I love the little creatures she makes and kind of want a whole world created for them to live in. 

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@othergirl_julia

Julia Bayliss is one half of clothing brand itsmeandyou which I am desperate to get my hands on. I came across her account by going through an instagram hole (getting to an account through another account, through another, etc etc). I often forget how I found people and then see various people I follow pop up on the accounts of other people I follow and it sort of feels like I am a silent member that no one knows about. But in any case Julia (and her friends!) post wonderfully styled, body positive shots. 

 

I think finding people who post visually stimulating content can be very good for your own visual ideas and inspiration. Looking at what you like about their images, styling and content can help you discover what you truly value about your own style. Not just for instagram, but for any visual expression.

There are about 800 more accounts I can add to this but we don't have hours to spend on instagram (even though I give it a good try). If you want to have a peruse of who I follow, or indeed follow myself; my instagram is >here<

I hope you've found some cool new accounts to enjoy. What are some of your favourite accounts to follow? 

The Responsible Way to Not Be Sensible

My social media bios won’t tell you this but I do have a day job in central London. A regular 9-2-5 with a lunch break, commute and everything.

At the beginning of the year I was at a kind of cross roads. I realised I was turning 28 (hopes the tears I cry will moisturise me so people keep mistaking me for 24) and I wasn’t exactly where I wanted to be. But I had stability and enough to sustain a fairly decent social life, enough to save. I was buying my lunch every day like I was somebody.  It was all very sensible. The city doesn’t offer you a lot of time to risk freely. It's great and it's unforgiving. It can be very easy to get sucked into the fast paced nature of the place and fear what might happen if you step out a little bit. Though I have a lot of privileges. I live at home, don’t have dependents and I am of fairly sound mind and health. And while I hope the first two change at some point in the future, I am well aware that I am not there now.

I was also so frustrated. I really didn’t have the time to dedicate to all the things in my head. I was getting home and it was dark. I had to cram eating, resting, being a good daughter and friend and creativity into a couple of hours each evening. It was like I was running into a brick wall and I was getting exhausted. And I felt like I was tip-toeing on the edge, like I was on a precipice. Though I have a lot of privileges. I live at home, don’t have dependents and I am of fairly sound mind and health. And while I hope the first two change at some point in the future, I am well aware that I am not there now.

I knew something needed to give and so I made an application to go part time.

Those close to me expressed a range of reactions; from confused shock (the mother) to excited go-for-it squeals (my friend who also freelances). I did feel I had to shut out the noise a bit and trust my instinct. I did have the luxury of a brief moment in time to take a risk. I am not the most reckless person I know, but I’m not the complete opposite either.

I worked out finances and how much I would save. Then how much I could save. I made sure I had a space to work and a system to organise my time. 

It wasn’t the craziest decision I could have made by far, but it was a definite step in a direction I’ve been staring at for years. A good couple of months into it and I can safely say it was the best thing to do. I have a lot more energy in both my creativity and while I’m at work the rest of the week too. It feels very good to have dedicated time to plan and organise. I can create in daylight! I can get some real motion on projects I’ve been mulling over.

I was responsibly not sensible and it’s worked out pretty good so far. Have you taken any risks lately?

Podcast Recommendations for the At Home Creative

Now that I have all of Friday to work solely on my creative endeavors, I have taken to listening to a lot of podcasts while I draw or paint. I have found it’s more engaging than listening to music. I’ve got my top recommendations listed below to share with you.

The High Low.

This podcast is like sitting at lunch with your friends. The two hosts, Pandora Sykes and Dolly Alderton cover the weeks news from everything political to cultural, high brow to low brow as the name indicates. It’s funny, thoughtful and has lots of great recommendations for articles, books and TV shows. The two are very articulate and even when they differ from one another, it’s nothing more than an offering of two points of view. Their friendship shines through and this, along with the theme tune, can’t help but leave you smiling. 

Guys We Fucked.

These are always quite long episodes which I love to listen to working on a piece that I’ve set aside a few hours for. This podcast is predominantly about sex and relationships and hosted by two comedians, Corinne Fisher and Krystyna Hutchinson. Refreshing is the word often attached to praise of this podcast I think but that’s because it’s very accurate. The hosts are hilarious, honest and open. I think what they are doing is so important, needed and extremely healthy. I started listening in October and keep up with new episodes but in between go back and listen to the archive. They have a range of quests and I’ve listened to points of views that I would never come across and quests who have the most interesting stories to tell.

Anna Faris is Unqualified.

Anna and her guest basically answer two calls from people needing advice and then proceed to give them the advice they think of. The point is that they are not qualified to give life advice (hence the name) but often come up with the goods anyway.  Before the calls Anna usually has some other features that include some improv, interviews and casual chat. It’s not the most slick podcast, and I mean that as praise. You can hear people in the background (Chris Pratt arriving home) and it doesn’t seem heavily edited. I love this format and it works so well. Anna is a true gem.

Rookie.

I might be a few years older than the target demographic of this podcast but I’m in full support of Tavi Gevinson and all that Rookie does. The podcast is fairly new but there’s already been some HQ quests from all industries and I’ve taken a lot from the things they’ve said. Other features like starter pack, where someone gives you the best entry points to a new hobby or genre or interest, are really fun to listen to.

Creative Pep Talk.

Yes, I do also listen to podcasts very specifically relevant to my industry too. This is also the first podcast I ever started listening to. Andy J Pizza (not his real name) goes in depth about the challenges of being a commercial artist, or making art for a living. He delivers thought out strategies and ideas for combatting things like burnout, idea blocks, marketing woes and more. It’s also a celebration of creativity, ideas and making great work. Andy has such a great energy. It does what its says on the tin, you feel fully pepped up take on your daily work, next project or just get started.

Make it Happen. 

Jen Carrington is my coach, and a coach to many other creatives. Make It Happen takes you through strategies, ideas and tips on managing your life as a creative. Some episodes are interviews with creative business owners who talk about how they got started and how they manage their responsibilities. Others are shorter bite size episodes on a specific topic from Jen herself. Perfect for a tube ride. It can feel quite daunting, almost impossible, to be a freelance creative business owner but listening to those who are successfully doing it is a huge boost of encouragement.

Call Your Girlfriend.

I’ve only started to listen to this podcast in the past few weeks but it’s making this list. I’ve gone back to the start, 2014, and am listening chronologically. Two friends, Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow, who live across the US call each other and talk about what’s been happening. It’s sort of like we’re listening in on their phone call but they know we are because it’s a podcast. They talk about big things in the news, what they’ve been up to and call other mutual friends. I’ve just got on to them answering listener questions. It’s a relaxed podcast but the two hosts have an agenda each week and regular topics (this week in mensuration news, as an example). It’s a very easy listen and I want to be friends with them.

I’m always on the look (ear) out for new podcasts. What are some of your favourites?

The shop is launching!

Hello everyone! 

I'm smiling as I type, and that's because I'm excited for the news I'm sharing. Well, it's not news so long as you read the title of this post - a shop will be live on Friday 2nd June! 

You'll be able to buy prints of my work and I will be looking to get up some fun commission opportunities soon too. I've been snail pace working on this for a little while now in between a few commissions and work and I'm so glad to be getting it out to you! 

All the photography has been done by Holly Booth and it looks really great. Check back on Friday to see the full set of prints available and let me know what you think! 

My 2017 Goal Check In!

I like to remind everyone that time is actually just a concept and it doesn’t really exist. However it still is fact that we are coming to the middle of the year 2017 and I thought it would be a good time to check in with the resolutions I made at the beginning of January – seeing as I actually made some this year.

My first resolution was to put myself in more opportunities that will get me out of the house and meeting new people, and to get involved in the arts community. I knew that this would mean sometimes going to events alone and having to put myself out there. This has become more important as I have now taken the leap to part time working at my day job (it wasn’t so much a leap but a gentle step, however one in the right direction!). I have started going to a monthly illustrators meet up called Yo Illo. Most of the meet ups are in bars and it’s a relaxed and friendly vibe. I look out for events and am trying to put myself forward for things. This has recently lead to my work being shown at Cass Art in Islington. I am on the look out for more crafty and illustration events though so let please tell me about any you know about! In the next part of the year I’m thinking about some projects that will mean a little more branching out to people and I think with this one it’s so far, so good.

My next resolution was to be more organised in my approach to projects and ideas. I actually forgot about this one but! Pleased to say I think I can tick it off. The main huge help in progressing projects has been having a creative coach (shout out to Jen). We’ve discussed ways in which to work effectively alongside the DJ and I’ve spent a little time testing out what works best for me. I break down my tasks into tiny steps that it almost seems ridiculous but I’ve got stuff done. I still feel frustrated with the length of time things take me but I’m learning to work alongside any struggles I have. I’ve learnt it’s important to give yourself some grace and I’m remembering to do that.

My last resolution was to read a more diverse range of books. I am a slow reader (see above point about things taking me ages) but so far I’ve read some essays (particularly ‘We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie), poetry (We Carry The Sky by McKayla Robbin, Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur and Howling at the Moon by Darshana Suresh), graphic novels (Paper Girls and Saga by Brian Vaughn), non fiction (Tiny, Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed – again) and fiction (The Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan).  I’ve also taken to carving out some more time for reading and using it as wind down and non-screen time before I go to bed.

 

I’ve never really been goal-setting sort of person but I think, all things considered, it’s going ok. I’ve made more progress on ideas having set some goals for them rather than ‘getting to it this year’. Even if I set a date and have to push it back I’ve got to be chill with myself and content in the face I’m going in the right direction.

Wild and Uncivilised: Illustration Exhibition

I've had these guys finished for a while now. They've been printed, photographed and the top piece is currently in an exhibition at the Cass Art store 's gallery in Islington until the 30th May. 

The exhibition is called Wild and Uncivilised, and features watercolour works from various artists. Super excited to have this opportunity to exhibit in my favourite art supply store. 

Let me know if you get along to see it! 

Collection Moodboard: Supernova

Playlist

Wish You Were Here - Florence Welch, May I Have This Dance - Francis and The Lights, Tilted - Christine and the Queens, The Greatest - Sia, New World Coming - Benjamin Wallfisch and Disa, Palace - Hayley Kiyoko, Colors - The Head and The Heart. 


Stellar explosion of all the colours in shades that put the milky in the milky way. 


Top left - Spring Scattering Stars - Edward Blashfield, Second row left - here, Second row right - found here (please tell me if you know who the artist is, nothing is coming up on google), third row left - here, bottom row left - here