Be Fucking Bold!

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The human spirit is a bit of a wonder to me. I have no business trying to psychoanalyze anyone (although I've definitely tried), but it's interesting how some people have an undying will to succeed and push forward even though they have failed over and over again.

How many times does someone need to be rejected before they give into defeat? How many times does someone have to make small pivots, because no matter which way they go, there's always an obstacle?

Where does tenacity come from when you've never experienced real success in the first place?

What drives an artist to continue to lay down paint on canvas when there is a stack of unsold paintings sitting in the corner?

What thoughts push a writer to pen another story when nobody read any others?

Which chemicals have to come together in the body of an entrepreneur to turn sheer will into brute force?

I refuse to fail

I had a small setback this week, a final rejection that stung more than a little. I've been trying to get my work into Creative Market for a while, building design templates for other people to purchase and use on their own projects. I've been several now, and no matter how many I make, Creative Market turns my application down.

I know it's not because the work is bad—it's definitely not. I've seen some of the other crap they allow in, and mine definitely stands above. Perhaps that's a bit of bravado on my part, but although I realize I'm not a superstar designer, I can definitely hold my own. So it hurts a little to spend all that time making these templates, which took many hours each to produce, only to have them tell me that my work doesn't meet their standards.

When I look at it closer, the only reasoning I can come up with for the rejection is that my style does not fit into their box. There is a lot of consistency to what Creative Market sells, and if you put my work next to what they have available, it's not the same. I thought my style differences would be the thing that would get me in the door, but I suppose I'm wrong.

I will not change who I am to fit into their tidy, little box.

If Creative Market doesn't want my work, then so be it. I'll find another way to get my work out to the world, but instead of me just going about this business-as-usual, I will be fully embracing those stylistic differences.

My style is not pretty. When I'm doing my best work, it is grotesque. I do not fit the design trend molds, probably will not ever fit into them, and that's ok. The more I understand that the better my work becomes. Every rejection of my work by a critic, purveyor, or gatekeeper is another validation that I need to make work that shouts from the rooftop that it will not ever conform.

You're scaring the kids

About a month ago, I reopened my Etsy shop. I did it as an experiment to see if I could get some traffic and attention to my work from a reliable, creative source. Etsy doesn't have the same gatekeepers that Creative Market does, but they still have a reasonable consistency to what they offer.

I started my shop with a few small art pieces I've made, and also some graphic posters. The first few posters I admittedly made with the intention of fitting into Etsy's tidy, little box. I'm proud of those pieces, but they don't fully embrace my style... and then I made the one on the far right of the image below.

That was an impulsive piece, and I couldn't quite explain where the concept came from, but I was compelled to make it. I started thinking more about the work I had done, and what kind of work I wanted to be making. Just after that one, I was struggling to make a new poster that would have been more in line with the four others, but I just couldn't get my head around the design.

A few days later, I got the rejection letter from Creative Market, and it triggered me to make this one...

It might be hard to read, but the small phrase under the main says, "You weren't brought into this world to lead an ordinary life."

This poster is a note to self—a reminder for me to never again try to fit into someone else's box. I'm still going to be sharing my poster designs up on Etsy, but I'm no longer worried about whether the shoppers will be offended by my style or not.

Before I made Be Fucking Bold, I hadn't sold a single one of my posters yet. I wasn't upset by that because it takes time and effort to get noticed on Etsy. You need to produce a lot of work in order to gain attention, and I am just getting started on that platform.

What happened when I uploaded this new poster to my Etsy shop and then shared it on social media? I sold two copies almost immediately. Granted, it was two copies to the same person, one of which is a gift for someone, but that sale was the validation I needed.

Anything that gets produced from this point forward is going to be 100% balls-out art that never fits into anyone else's box. It fits into my box only, and even then, I'm going to make sure I'm trying my hardest to bust out.

2018 was a banner year for lessons learned, and the three lessons that will define who I am as an artist from now on are…

  1. Be consistent in your output

  2. Stay true to your message

  3. BE FUCKING BOLD!

Happy new year. I hope 2019 is a fruitful for you as I know it will be for me. Let's get to work.