I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what direction I want to go in professionally with my art. I’ve spent a great deal of my life feeling confused about that. I went to school for illustration, but, after I graduated, barely attempted to become an illustrator of any kind. The only kind of illustrator I put some effort into becoming was a children’s book illustrator, which professors and colleagues often suggested I be. While I agreed with them and decided to try my hand at it, I struggled to accept it wasn’t actually what I wanted for myself. I went to SCBWI conferences, made lists of agents and publishing houses, wrote drafts of children’s stories and created accompanying illustrations. I did these things, but all while feeling heavy and hollow. There was nothing exciting to me about being a children’s book illustrator, no matter how hard I tried to convinced myself there was.

Since realizing that, I haven’t had much an idea about what direction to go in. I feel like some kind of artist peripheral, hugging the walls of every room in the art world, unsure if I can access, or am even allowed in, those rooms’ centers. There are some things I know I love. I love to frame and display my art. I love to share my art with others. I love to be around other artists and have them share their art with me. For this reason, I’ve felt excited when exhibiting my art in galleries and art fairs. I wonder, then, if galleries and art fairs are the right places for me. I wonder, if they are, if I can commit to them, like really commit to them. There was something safe about trying to become a children’s book illustrator. I didn’t care if I failed. Because I just didn’t care at all. But when I pursue something that brings me real excitement, jerk-me gets all riled up. Jerk-me starts telling me I don’t belong in those places, ’cause my art’s too illustrative, ’cause I’m too quiet, ’cause I’m not enough. Jerk-me tries to protect me, might even say, “why don’t you try being a children’s book illustrator again?” Because it’s so much safer than possibly failing at something you care about.

So, I don’t know. Or maybe I do know what I want, but I’m just struggling to think I deserve it.

Anyway, here’s a progress shot of the next drawing I’m working on…

Published by Steph Kunze


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