Business things are suddenly shifting and changing and it makes me sort of queasy. Because sometimes, it feels like you’re doing a lot of work to inch things along. Lots of work to do all the lifting and pushing, just pretty much constantly.
And then other times, they pick up steam, or maybe you find a little stretch of downhill road, and they take off a bit by themselves. And even though they’re still on that track, things feel out of your control for just that short time.
I once read an article about female entrepreneurs and how common it is for women to draw themselves into a corner by being unwilling to flex and grow because they’re unwilling to allow things to grow out of their control.
I sort of, kind of, have done that, and while it may be overblowing things slightly to say that they’re spinning wildly out of control, I’m loosening my grip on the reigns- and it’s sort of scary.
Delegating is one sort of scariness. The kind that’s wrapped up in pride and only-I-can-do-it. And, relying on the actual art itself, and not some little shtick is another sort. The kind that’s wrapped up in self-doubt and I-can’t-do-it.
When I started painting cards, I figured, who the hell am I? In what I thought was very calculated realism, I figured no one would buy what I drew without some sort of, I don’t know, selling point? So I figured out how to do every single card individually hand-painted. Handmade! People like handmade. This way I wouldn’t have to worry about being as good/better than all of those other awesome, awesome stationery illustrators out there. I had something they didn’t!
But, by doing that, I painted (ha) myself into that corner. What growth is possible when I, personally, need to slave over every card myself? As I found out last Christmas, pretty much nada.
Then, we experimented with printing last year, and it was well-received. And now. Well, while it’s a little scary- I feel like the world is my oyster. I could basically paint… well, anything I want. Until now, I’ve been bound by things that I could make swiftly and replicate easily because I was focused on hand-painting every single one.
I’m no longer selling this sleight of hand trick of being able to replicate little hand-painted drawings every time someone orders up a card. Now, it’s all about art. And, that makes it all about talent- which is a sort of intimidating word, in the face of the internet and Etsy and Pinterest and all of those hoards of talented people. The word “talent” makes my type-A personality immediately jump into an imagined competition, a push to be better than everyone else. Which is quickly self-defeating. Have you seen everyone else? They’re, um. Really good.
I had it half right when I realized I needed something to set me apart from everyone else. But I sort of skirted the question by relying on party tricks instead of talent.
So the big, looming scariness in the immediate is figuring out what am I good at? For someone who wants the answer to be Everything, it’s a hard question. But that’s the current, constant process. I get ahead of myself. I try to do things that aren’t in my realm, and I need to draw myself back in. Because the whole dual scariness is allowing myself to recognize, I am good at something. I’m just not good at everything.