The intention was to get myself out of a long creative rut. The sketches and drawings were spontaneous, sloppy, and all over the place stylistically. Not exactly a cohesive vision or statement- but it really worked well at accomplishing a couple of things. Not only did I pull myself out of inactivity, but the responses and support I gained from making it public has made me more confident with something I’ve tended to try and hide. I’d like to take some time to reflect on the process and the journey because it was really helpful and important to me.Here are all 365 sketches and drawings for the year. I put them all into a giant poster file which you can see close up HERE (just have to use your trackpad or mouse to navigate), or you can search instagram for #twothousandarteen.
A couple years ago I realized something really important. I had been holding onto an idea of myself that I’ve had since I was probably 20. I still thought of myself as an ‘artist’ even though I hadn’t created anything since then. To make things more complicated, I didn’t think I had the ability to make art, or I was afraid of sharing what i was doing with anyone.
When your idea of yourself doesn’t match up with your actual self - things can get pretty gnarly in your brain. I was constantly feeling like something was missing, and the thing is, I knew what it was the whole time. I knew that making art made me happy. So why wasn’t I doing it? There was something in my way, and it was obvious, perhaps too much so to recognize.
Something I would never have associated with my lack of making art…That thing was fear my friends. It sounds stupid and silly and so ridiculous. Who is scared of drawing. It’s more complicated than that and I won’t get too far into it, but ultimately the fear was of failing at what i identified as. During my first year of college (20 years ago) a professor asked everyone in the room what we wanted to do after college. I answered that I wanted to be an illustrator. When confronting my feelings a couple years ago about why I was unhappy, i realized that I was still thinking of myself as an illustrator, with nothing to show for it. I had to work to get there, and I had barely put in any effort. I was afraid that I would fail at making it and so i’ve been kinda frozen in limbo and distracting myself with all sorts of other interests. I am in no way regretful of the last 20 years, but I was happy to have come to realize this problem so I could take care of it head on.
On Instagram and on the internet in general, there have been these personal challenges I’ve been seeing the last few years. They have been inspiring and I tried a few of them - including #The100DayProject and #inktober but never quite finished them. It was really helpful and fun to do these projects but ultimately it came down to my own discipline. While doing inktober with thousands of other people it was easy for me to stop doing it without people noticing too much or feeling too bad about it. I decided to make up my own challenge with its own hashtag. I would make it very public so that i would not be able to slip away from it - and i would hold myself accountable to finish it. The main idea was to keep moving and to be less fussy with my drawings. I was never satisfied with anything that i worked on too much, and it turns out i’m super happy with things i don’t spend much time on and just let go! Almost all of the drawings in #twothousandarteen took less than a half hour, some took 5 minutes and there are a couple i spent over an hour on, but the idea was to just do it and let my mind relax.
If you are someone who feels similarly about their creative spirit, either with fear or inaction due to whatever, I would lovingly encourage you to make a challenge for yourself. It was a transformative experience and I feel so much better having done it and am so excited about having confidence to to lots more in the future and to work on more intentional and bigger projects.
Below are some helpful tips for starting your own challenge or joining and existing one!
- Come up with a challenge or join one. Make some guidelines for it.
- Make it as public as possible (instagram worked great for me) to help hold yourself accountable.
- Start working. Make it a practice, that will turn into a habit.
- If you miss a day or days, don't quit, just keep doing it. don't beat yourself up. This was the number one problem for me in earlier challenges. life would get in the way and if i skipped a day my laziness would convince me that i should just stop - even though it was much more satisfying to keep moving.
- Just keep moving. Don't think about it too much.
If this article struck a chord with you I’d love to hear about it in the comments. I know so many people are struggling to find their creative voice and I think the world would be a much prettier and awesome place if we all could find it. Let’s paint over all the grayness and concrete in the world!
If you are interested in seeing a large image of all 365 posts in #twothousandarteen you can go follow this link right HERE.