I used to sit at my desk in college and dream. I would dream about the future and the exciting job I would some day have. I don’t think I ever imagined that my career would involve a series of bland cubicles, wasted time, and frustrating coworkers. Does anyone dream of spending their most vibrant years trapped in a gray cubicle for forty hours a week, doing mind-numbing work that in the end, doesn’t seem to matter all that much anyway?
I remember being in elementary school and attending a local church daycare a few days a week in summer. Sometimes I would walk to the bathroom on my own and I would pause in the walkway, staring outside at the cars traveling on the road ahead. I would wish with all of my might that I was inside one of those cars, free and easy, driving under the gleaming summer sun, instead of stuck inside, under the thumb of some authority I neither respected or cared for. I never thought I would do the same thing as an adult.
I used to be so certain that I was going to make something of myself. I was going to be a famous poet and writer, maybe even an artist, and no one was going to stop me. But I guess life steps in and at some point you realize that the chances of your being able to do what you love for a living and actually getting paid for it are fairly slim. So you dial down your dreams a notch or two, thinking that someday soon, once SOMETHING happens in life, you’ll get back to them. And then a few years pass, and you turn the dial down just a little bit lower, and then lower yet again, until you’re left with nothing but dryness and an ache in the empty pit of your stomach.
I was sitting in a meeting the other day, and people were discussing the minutia of this or that, and as they were speaking, I looked around the room. Who among us had dreamed as a child that we would some day be little office drones wearing nice little office suits and talking about dull little office concepts? No child ever says they want to be a businessman or woman when they grow up, do they? We always want to be something fantastical: an astronaut, a ballerina, a doctor, a singer. Sometimes we’re kept from our dreams by inescapable physical realities: the would-be ballerina who has a leg deformity, the would-be singer who is tone deaf. But most of the time, I think we stop ourselves because it’s too hard or too scary to step outside of our comfort zone and be the person we want to be, or even the person we know we can be. We hide our authenticity behind a facade of happiness, because after all, why shouldn’t we be happy? We have a nice job in an air-conditioned building, decent hours, a good salary, and nice benefits like health insurance and a retirement package, and all the while our souls die just a little bit more every day.
But I am tired now of waiting for the future. I am tired of putting what I want to do on the back burner. I want to live for myself now. I don’t want to live for anyone else. I don’t want to answer to anyone else. I want to do something that makes me feel important, needed, and fulfilled.
I want to die failing spectacularly at something I love, instead of living successfully doing something I hate. And I am taking steps to make that happen. Much more to come.
Yes, it’s true! For those of you who haven’t heard, Target purchased the rights to use one of my photographs for an in-store sign! Even though this happened back in February, I’ve been over the moon ever since I signed the agreement. Unfortunately, I don’t know where in stores the photo will be, or when it will be in stores. I only know that it will be appearing between June 1st and October 1st.
This is where YOU come in.
If you see the below photo in a Target, PLEASE email me and let me know where you saw it! I would love to be able to go see it in person and to take a cheesy picture of me pointing at the photograph.
Once the licensing time-frame has ended, this photo will return to my shop, where you can purchase it yourself!
Thanks to everyone!
….yes, those three words describe the entirity of my weekend at the Indie Craft Experience in Atlanta. Never, in my wildest of cynical moments did I think I would do as poorly as I did.
Yeah, three. In two days. Fourteen hours of manning my booth, and I had only three customers. Not only did I lose my shirt this weekend, I lost my pants, my underwear, my shoes, and any semblance of dignity. I didn’t even make enough money to cover my booth fee, not to mention the hotel room, the gas to get there, and the cost of the canvases and prints.
Really, it was humiliating. I cried on the drive home.
Okay, in all honesty, I had five customers. My mom and dad actually drove all the way to Atlanta to see me on Saturday, which touched me so much I nearly cried. I can’t begin to tell you how much it meant to me to see them in the crowd; to feel their love and support was immeasurably wonderful. Thank you, mom and dad! I love you more than I could ever say!
My fifth customer was the FAMOUS Jennifer West, whose The Jen West Quest Blog should be on your blogroll if it’s not already. We went to high school together and have kept in touch via Facebook, but not seen each other since at least our 10-year reunion, which was…..uh, like five years ago. (Dear GOD!) She absolutely made my day and we’re going to grab lunch very soon. Love, love, LOVE me some Jen West!
Anyhow, back to my tale of woe and heartache.
The show itself is really cool, and I was impressed to be among so many talented people, but the bitter taste of so few people expressing any kind of interest in my work was really, really demoralizing. I felt like a total failure, like someone with absolutely no talent. A total fraud. It was a terrible feeling, about as bad as when someone dumps you or you fail an important test in school. A handful of people told me that they loved my work, and honestly, that was all that kept me going, so thank you, Kind Strangers, for your words of encouragement, because I desperately needed them.
I spent much of yesterday and today feeling like a fool for telling everyone how I got into such a cool show, and how awesome it was going to be, and how excited I was. Like, now I have to eat my words and let everyone down because so many people have been so supportive and said so many kind things, and I basically failed in the most public and humiliating of ways. When you put so MUCH of yourself into your art and spend so much time honing your craft and striving for perfection, it’s really hard not to take it personally when so many people walk by your work without much more than a glance. It hurts.
My wonderful husband had a lot nice things to say about me on our way home, when I hit rock bottom (well, I also hit rock bottom today in the ladies room when I had my first Good Cry). And you know what I realized? He’s right. I am good. I am talented. I do have a style. I am WORTHY. This show may not have proven that in any way, but it doesn’t take away the fact that photography is what I love, what I spend my time dreaming of, and ultimately, what makes me happiest in life. (Apart from icky, mushy things like my husband, my cats, my friends, and my family.)
Maybe this wasn’t my kind of show. Maybe this wasn’t my kind of audience. The only way I can really fail is if I let this defeat me. And I will not let this weekend defeat me. I will put a lampshade on my head until tomorrow and have the most rocking Pity Party you ever did see, but tomorrow I’m going to wake up, realize I have a ton of great inventory to put in my store, and keep on keeping on.
I captured this lovely macro image a few months ago at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens (one of my favorite places to shoot). Makes me long for spring, when so many lovely flowers are in bloom. Colors bursting EVERYWHERE! It’s been so unseasonably warm this winter here in Birmingham that I hope to go out tomorrow and take pictures of flowers that are beginning to bloom early. Looking forward to getting out again!
I love browsing about on Etsy and wanted to share some things that have caught my eye recently:
Mystery Science Theater 3000 necklace by PicaPicaPress. So, not only is this a NEAT idea, I love the fact that you can insert a photo inside the necklace to make it look like the crew is making fun of a movie. Just the coolest thing ever.
The Great Lakes by Crafterall. Crafterall has some of the most AHHH-MAAY-ZIIING paper cutouts I’ve ever seen! I cannot imagine how much time and effort goes into each and every one of these pieces. I love them all!
I’ve owned a copy of one form of Photoshop or another for the last decade or so. It’s the most powerful graphics program in the world and it has a VERY steep learning curve. I think I probably know how to properly use about 1% of it, which is a shame. I’ve decided to really buckle down lately and see what all I can do with this amazing program. I purchased two books on Amazon, which should be coming in later this week, and I’ve been studying up on it online. There are some really great resources out there like Smashing Magazine, which are full of great tips, tricks, and tutorials.
Last night I learned how to turn my photographs into comic-style pieces of art. I can’t believe how NEAT this is. I started out by downloading a really cool Action that would do it all for me automatically; then I took a look at the Action itself in the History panel to figure out how it was done. At that point, I began experimenting on my own and was amazed at all the really COOL stuff you can do to your photographs! I’m sharing a few below and even thinking about adding them to the shop at some point once I figure out how much interest there is and once I figure out a good place to get them printed.
This past weekend I went back to one of my favorite places to take pictures in Birmingham: the Botanical Gardens. It doesn’t matter what time of year you go, you will always find something interesting in bloom. It was exceptionally hot out, even though I got there at 9:30 in the morning, and although the breeze was cooling, it was hard to shoot macro with all the wind. Still, I managed to get some really cool shots (which I am hoping to get printed and up in the shop soon) that I can’t wait to show you.
For now, I present you with several neat insect photos I managed to capture despite the wind and the fact that I was hand-holding my camera (as I didn’t feel like lugging my tripod around). Some of the bugs were more cooperative than others, as you can see by the lack of blurriness in some images.
Hope you enjoy!