Stepping out of the creative comfort zone



I did something about a month and a half ago that is scaring the shit out of me. Seriously. Every time I think about it, I want to run into the bedroom, bury my head under the pillow and sleep for, like, I don't know, a hundred years. What did I do exactly? I signed up for Surtex this coming may. 

Surtex, for those of you who don't know, is the biggest art licensing trade show in the world. It runs simultaneously with it's more famous sister The National Stationery Show. And it's a huge commitment. Not just in terms of time spent amassing a big collection of work to show + designing all the materials and booth for the show, but it's a substantial financial commitment as well. (Like throw up in your mouth a little bit at you sign the checks.) Part of my brain is in denial that I actually put my deposit down and I'm doing this. But, it's time to put a game plan into action and my feet feel like they are stuck in cement.

You see, my whole adult life I've been told by friends, family and coworkers how talented I am. Not complaining here- It's a blessing to be recognized and supported by the people in your life. The problem is, it's put me into a comfort zone. When I was in my 20's I worked really hard to break into the design industry even though I "only" had training as a fine artist. I already had a career as a scenic artist, and it was time for a change. I spent day and night (literally) at the design agency that was kind enough to recognize something in me and take a chance on hiring me. And when I wasn't absorbing everything I could from the amazing people around me, I was sneaking every other available second of my day and night teaching myself Adobe Creative Suite so that same agency would once again take a chance on me and give me a position on their design staff. They did- and I'm still grateful- and I worked even harder to prove it was the right decision- that I did indeed deserve the title of designer just as much as anyone else. I guess after years of late nights, long weekends and exhausting (but amazing) projects, I was just really tired and in need of a break. And that's when I slipped into the comfort zone.

The comfort zone is not a bad thing all the time, but I lost that drive to push myself past what I ever even knew I was capable of. To become something that some people literally told me was not possible without the "proper training." (Whatever THAT is.)

I have dreams of what I want the next phase of my career to look like, but I've spent way too much time the last few years sitting and waiting for opportunity to come knocking on my door. (Not going to happen folks.) And if I'm being completely honest, there is some fear there too. What if I'm not really that great? What if nobody likes what I'm making? What if I don't have the guts and stamina to really push my business to where I want it to be? I know that talent itself is not enough. That I'm going to have to draw on so many other parts of myself to make my dreams a reality. It's much easier to pour yourself a cup of coffee, pin some inspirational quotes and go about your day the same as the day before, and the day before that... I am utterly blessed to be where I am right now with my work and my career, but I know if I don't stop waiting around and truly push myself, I'll be left wondering, saddled with the proverbial "what if." 

So, a month and a half ago I said fuck it. Sent the check in, signed the contract and took a deep breath. It's finally time for me to take a chance on myself, the same way that agency took a chance on me all those years ago. Will I work just as hard for myself as I did for them back then? I certainly hope so. 

I'll be sharing the bits and pieces here as I get ready for Surtex. I'm still equally parts terrified and elated about going, and I'm sure I will be until it's all over with. And, I'm also sure there will be some failures along with the successes throughout the process, but I can honestly say, as I hit the publish button on this post, that I'm looking forward to it all.


This post is part of the "Be Happy" Link up. I'm so excited to share my first post with you and the Be Happy Crew!

Lettering by me- Very Sarie