Searching for my purpose and identity as an artist


I have recently been thinking a lot about my artistic purpose and identity as an artist. Sort of like, what's my end goal in the art world? For some, it might be doing commissions as a full-time job, being a gallery artist, being YouTuber, holding exhibitions, teaching, selling original art or perhaps many of those at the same time. For me, it has never been very clear. I love creating and drawing, letting my imagination loose on a piece of paper. I love sharing my work with other people and I love seeing what other artists are creating. But that's kinda the end of it. 

I used to hold a lot of exhibitions of my art when I was younger. Perhaps because, at that time, there was no other way to show your art to people (other than your family members) as social media wasn't really a thing yet. Nowadays with Instagram and Facebook (as problematic as they nowadays are) I haven't really felt the same urge to hold exhibitions and go through all the work that it requires. Just the thought of it feels mostly exhausting to me. 

What about commissions then? I actually thought for a long time that I want to become a full-time pet portrait artist and do commissions. However, having started with that I quickly realized that that wasn't really my thing either. I had so much of my own ideas but not really any time to execute them and that made me miserable. Initially I had somehow imagined that I could do both, my own ideas and commissions but that wasn't really the case. I therefore decided to leave the commissions and focus solely on my personal art and I think that was definitely the right choice for me.

Only now, I have a new problem. What to do with all of the artwork that I have created, sitting in my closet?

Selling would, of course, be the obvious solution. However, that has also always been a bit problematic for me. I'm always very grateful and glad when someone wants to buy my art (I never take it for granted) and all the people that I have sold my art to have been absolutely wonderful. However, as a highly sensitive and introvert person, communicating with people (even if it's just through email) often requires quite a lot of my energy. I'm also an overthinker at times and I might have sleepless nights over very minor things. I also worry a lot when it comes to shipping the artwork. Will it arrive safely at its destination? What if it gets damaged? What if it gets lost? What if the buyer doesn't like the piece after all? This was mainly the reason why I made the decision to stop shipping my pieces internationally; to protect my mental health (and my sleep). All of this might sound silly to some people but for me, these were real issues, no matter how much I tried to tell myself not to worry. I can always sell my pieces locally of course (which doesn't stress me nearly as much). In that case the buyer base is obviously much smaller though, making selling a bit difficult in that way.

I have also thought a lot about whether or not I want art to be my full-time job (currently it isn't). The answer is yes and no. It would, in principle, be awesome to do my own art thing on a full-time basis and perhaps it would make my life feel more meaningful in some way. Also, many of the problems that I described earlier would not perhaps be such big problems if I had more time in a day to focus on them. BUT, I also know how much work and effort it requires to really make it as a full-time artist. Drawing and creating are such a small part of it and suddenly you have to think about the money side of it too. I know it definitely can be done but I'm not so sure that I'm the sort of person who would enjoy it as it can be quite unpredictable and stressful at times. Some people thrive in those kind of situations but I think it would perhaps be a bit too much for me. There is, of course, also many kind of midway-options to this which would definitely be better for me personally. They too, however, require some planning and consideration whether it would make sense in all the aspects of it.

While I do dream about art entrepreneurship at times (we never know where life takes us), I'm also quite happy with my current situation where I do art in my free time. Sure, with a non-art-related full-time job it's sometimes difficult to find the time and energy for art but also, I can draw what I want without having to think if it sells or not. I can also choose not to draw at all if I don't feel like it as I don't have to worry about the income. I have to admit that I kinda like that freedom.

So if I'm at least somewhat happy with my situation, what's the problem then? Because I feel like I want to do more. I want to find more meaning to art making and have goals to work towards. Right now I don't really know what they are and it's kinda bothering me. Sometimes it feels like there's no suitable options and all I can do is choose the least wrong one. Or create something completely new that's not in the menu yet. I realize that there is always gonna be rough patches on the road, no matter what we decide to do but I think it should at least feel so that the road is worth to be taken, even with the rough parts.

I have been thinking a lot about resurrecting my YouTube account and/or making a tutorial for Skillshare. I have no clue how that's gonna happen though, with my non-existing video-making skills and social anxiety issues but that's still something that I have been quite interested in lately and watched a lot of YouTube videos about. We'll see what's gonna happen.