3 months, 1 week ago
Today’s post is a little more personal than usual. I like to feel like I put my heart and soul into my work, and there’s the good days….. and then there are the bad days. I know also that a lot of artists out there feel the same way, so this is my way of expressing that…. I know how you’re feeling, and I’m here for you.
Art and design are supposed to be things which make people happy, but throughout history the majority of art of just about every genre has been made by people who have been suffering from a range of mental illnesses and have poured it all into their work, either to deal with it or to give it some form of outlet. Vincent Van Gough created beautiful paintings even though he suffered from crippling psychotic episodes which eventually lead to his death. Isaac Newton laid many of the foundations of mathematics and physics (seen as an art in themselves) even though he suffered from bipolar disorder, and even recently Robin Williams, the iconic actor and comedian, committed suicide after a lifetime of struggling with depression.
I’m not in any way comparing myself to these greats but I can say that I at least know how they feel. I’ve suffered for many years from anxiety and depression, sometimes better and sometimes worse, and in fact I started my art and design business as a way of dealing with it. Actually that’s not strictly 100% true; I needed to escape and this was the direction I headed in.
In 2013 I was suffering from a particularly bad bout. In fact I was having a lot of difficulty finding reasons to carry on, and although I REALLY didn’t want to I realised that if I didn’t find something to at least distract me from how I was thinking and feeling then I might not pull out of it this time. It was around the time of my birthday so I decided I’d buy myself something which would enable me to focus my thoughts on something positive; maybe that would pull me through.
It was at that time that I found a website selling 3D printers. I’d heard of them of course and I’d always been fascinated with them. I’ve been a lifelong fan of technology and gadgets and therefore the idea of creating something almost out of thin air was one which I found particularly alluring. The printers being sold on the website were hobby printers, nowhere near professional grade, but they were within my price-range and I thought….. well why not? So I placed an order, and the next day a huge and heavy box was delivered, containing my very first 3D printer.
From the very first print, a small vase (the design for which was included in the printer’s memory as a test-print), I was hooked. I sat and watched over and over again as objects were created before my very eyes, and although at the time I really had no idea what I was doing I decided that I wasn’t going to just download other people’s designs; I was going to get some CAD software and make my own. So another box duly arrived, this time containing my very first copy of TurboCAD.
I’d never used CAD software before, although I’d spent many years using vector graphics systems like CorelDRAW, Adobe Illustrator and now Graphic on the Mac, so I managed to muddle through. My first design was a simple one, a phone holder for my iPhone, but the feeling when it was finished printing and I could hold it in my hand was a very powerful one. This was MY design, no-one else in the world had made this. All of a sudden how I was feeling really didn’t hurt that much anymore. Now I knew I’d succeeded in finding an outlet for how I was feeling, and something which could keep me going.
When the time came to look for a new job I realised that this could be my chance. Rather than another job which, although enjoyable, was just a way to earn money I decided that I’d take the plunge and go self-employed as a freelance designer. I’m not going to lie, it’s been hard and it’s taken a little longer than I thought to really start to pick up, but now I realise THIS is what I want to be doing. It’s very long hours, I work usually seven days a week and have to force myself to take days off, but there’s literally no other job in the world I want to be doing. When I send out an order to a customer I still get that little thrill that someone out there in the big. wide world likes my work enough to pay me for it, and the nice comments and wonderful reviews I’ve had on my work give me that same boost every single time.
I know also, as I said before, that a lot of my fellow crafters are in the same sort of boat. Maybe they have family problems which their crafting helps them to escape from even if it’s just for an hour or so a day. Maybe they have the same problems with anxiety and depression and find going out into the big wide world can be scary, so they make their own world out of clay, paper, felt, wool, plastic, paint or whichever medium drives them most. Or maybe they’re just stressed by every day life. Whatever it is, they take that pain and forge it into works of beauty and in doing so they fight back just a little against that ‘Black Dog’. And every person who loves their work, and who parts from their hard-earned cash to own that work, is doing that little bit towards making that crafter’s world that little bit brighter.
Like I said, this post is a little more down and introspective than usual, but I like to think that if I show you a little more about what drives me and why I do what I do it’ll help you to see all of us crafters in maybe a new light. I don’t presume to speak for everyone, everyone has their own story and I can only tell you mine, but this world today is trying harder and harder to tear us apart. Instead let’s all come together over something beautiful