#2 Conversation with my Future Self (Time Travel Chronicles part 2)

January is the month of New Year’s Resolutions and reflections. My January has begun with a series of reflections on my past, which led to set my intentions for the new year. I thought about the battles I had with my low self-confidence and how I managed to pull myself out of a few rough patches. I traveled back in time and gave my old self a good pack on the back, then I asked myself what my plan was for this year.

For me lists, schedules and goal-planning can often be very overwhelming, and sometimes produce the opposite effect of what they are supposed to do: they make me want to do everything that is not on the list! But I love what I do, so why does it come easier when I don’t have a list? If you’ve read my previous post you know I was on a long bus journey in that moment, and I started asking myself a lot of questions. How can I work towards my goals without obsessing over results? How can I be my friend and ally instead of being my own cruel judge? How can I improve but also have fun? It was then that my future self sat next to me and discussed a bunch of issues. These were some of the answers she provided.

Enjoy the discovery

What you are requesting from yourself is quite unfair. You want to jump to the end of your creative journey by skipping a few necessary steps. You want things to happen now, and you want them to be perfect, but you can’t predict when you are going to be fully happy with your work. The trick is just to keep working, and refine the work as you continue learning.

Do more, edit later

You want to make all the decisions in advance, and have control from the beginning, but if you accept the unpredictability of your creative process you will finally embrace a whole range of possible solutions. Forget your schedule and let loose. Have fun painting, without a particular reason. Don’t decide what it’s going to be before you start it. Keep producing, and once you have a lot of work, edit it and choose what you are going to use and how.

Develop your effortless style

While you are in that place where you are having fun and enjoying the process, do not analyze what medium, textures or shapes you are using. Produce a large body of work, and then pick the features and the techniques you are more comfortable using. Don’t force yourself trying to reproduce something you have seen and would like your art to look like, because that’s not you. It will come to you once you have cleared your head, and you are only looking at your work.

Remember your story

Your strength lies in your story. The experiences from your life, your sensations, your values, your memories. They all compose your voice and your uniqueness. If you stay true to that voice you will produce work that is consistent, evocative and powerful. Trust that voice and people will listen!

If you wait until you feel ready, it might be too late

You will learn how to deal with uncertainty and you will learn that believing in yourself is the first step to translate intention into action. Do not wait to start doing the things you love, because if you don’t get something right the first time, you will get it the second time, or the third time. You remember that idea that sounded just great, and you waited and waited, and the same idea eventually found someone else whilst you were waiting to be ready? Yeah… it sucked.

Drop the not 10/10 Projects

For your side projects choose the ones that resonates with you and with your voice. Don’t spread yourself too thin and don’t try to commit to too many projects at the same time. Make the wisest investment on your time and energy in order to put 100% into something that is really worth the effort. Also start with the project that you can complete with the skillset that you possess at the present time. The time for your ambitious projects will come one day but you need to learn a few things prior, so don’t worry about those for now.

Do not choose something because it feels safe

The rewards and the possibilities that you would want to open up will only happen if you exit your comfort zone and make a brave decision. Think about all the fears which you thought will always stay with you and you managed to conquer. Recognise if fear is preventing you from achieving your goals and explore a different approach, which could be a little uncomfortable for you at first.

Do not expect an opportunity to be life-changing

There have been moments when you had put so much expectation on an opportunity to open up and finally change the cards on the table, and felt so miserable when things just fell through, or revealed not so ground-breaking as you hoped they were going to be. Keep building your portfolio, keep pushing yourself and doors will open up. Cultivate ideas and expose yourself. It is not a big break that will turn your life around, because a setback can happen just as fast. The only safenet for your career is constant improvement of the quality of your work, and the best things will happen when you least expect them.

Keep exploring

What you have built was based on experimentation, constance and research. Try not to stay in the same place, and open up to new territories. Maybe the thing you are looking for is something that you haven’t tried yet.

I wish you will maintain focus and motivation to bring the future you desire closer and closer to the present. You know you are in the right mindset right now. Go for it!

With love,

Camilla

#1 Advice to my Past Self (Time Travel Chronicles part 1)

This year on New Year’s Day, during a four-hour coach journey, I went time-traveling and met my past self from three years ago.

We had a long chat, she told me that she felt discouraged, that she was full of ideas but loathed everything she put onto paper, and that she couldn’t see what direction her work was going to take.

I listened to her quietly, then I wrote her a letter. When we said goodbye, I hugged her and thanked her for trusting her intuition, in spite of all the bad moments she was going through, and I gave her the letter. This is what I wrote to her:

Dear Past Self,

I know now that dealing with your insecurities is part of the game, and starting something new entails being unsure and vulnerable. I remember how it feels to be dominated by fear. When we are afraid to take a chance, we can tell ourselves an awful lot of excuses, and not realise that the fear of failing is actually the one thing that is holding us back. You will familiarise with your negative feelings too, and the dark moments will be as important as the positive ones, because you will learn about the power of resilience.

The three years ahead of you are going to be an adventure and a learning curve. You are setting the foundation for my dream to become true, and will overcome struggles and obstacles. You are in the trial-and-error phase, and you are disappointed and frustrated with your results, but through your mistakes you will find your path. It is the only way, trust me, and the work that you produce that you think is bad is important too, because it is going to lead you to what you really want.

Almost everything I have learned was by making mistakes and readjustments, and sometimes by falling flat on my face! I can’t make things easier for you, but I promise that you won’t regret the choices you have made. It will take some time for you to believe in yourself and you have to go through many trials and errors to understand what is right for you. I would like to give you three pieces of advice to support you during your journey. I hope these can help you through tough times.

  • Focus on the process rather than on the results.

Things take time, and you need to allow yourself a few tries before reaching the result you have in mind. Artists usually never share their initial steps, and you don’t know how many attempts it took to get to that piece of art you love so much. Also, some projects require a lot of different skill-sets, and you may not possess or master all the skills you need for that particular project. Just relax and keep working, you will adjust your craft on the way, also ideas will come, valid ones, I promise.

  • Find the discipline that works for you

Practice, practice and practice. Do not let long periods of time pass without drawing at all. Understand which moment of the day is the most productive for you, and try to plan your activities in order to keep that time available for your work. When it is not possible to use that time, try to spare a few minutes every day, but do not put too much pressure on yourself to complete the piece that you are working on. If you are too busy with your job or if you have more urgent things to take care of, don’t be too hard on yourself and don’t work long hours to make up for the time you couldn’t draw or paint. You will only feel frustrated if you do that. Do not wait until you have a whole day to spend on your illustration, do a little bit everyday because regular practice is the most important factor for your artistic and professional growth.

  • Focus on your natural strengths and sensitivity

When you feel genuine pleasure in the work you are doing it means that that is the work you should be doing. Of course you need to challenge yourself and find ways to improve, but if you are not enjoying what you are doing it means that it is not your best work, that is not you. Think about the most enthusiastic feedback you’ve received, and when friends commented: “that is really you!”, what were the characteristics that defined your work? What is important to you? What are your values? Explore what gives joy and meaning to your life, and you will find your voice.

Thanks for your hard work. Don’t worry, it will pay off.

With love,

Camilla

After meeting my past self, I still had two hours to spend on my coach. So I reached out to my future self and asked if she had any advice for me.

I will tell a little about the conversation we had in the next post.

#0 Let’s Dive Right In!

Hello everyone! Welcome to my fresh new blog and to this new decade!!

My mind and body has fully recharged during the holidays, I have been working on full power over the past week (probably fuelled by panettone, chocolate and all the sugars I have eaten over Christmas), and I am exuding optimism and new ideas.

I have been toying with the idea of starting a blog for a long time and sharing thoughts about illustration, art, life as an artist, and in the spirit of new beginnings I have decided to jump right into it and start. Yesss!!

Let me introduce myself: my name is Camilla, I am an Illustrator, and I was born in Italy, where I studied illustration for three years, so if I sound funny or make grammar mistakes please forgive me as English is not my first language! (Also please feel free to point out if there is any mistake in the comments so I can correct it.)

My illustration adventure commenced in 2016, in the lovely city of Bristol, which is situated in the Avon region of England, where I currently live and work as a Creative Artworker in a design company.

Honestly I still haven’t fully realised that this is my life now, some days I wake up feeling I have absolutely no idea of what I am doing, and others I wake up feeling invincible. There has been many highs and lows, and I want to share how these three years of my life have been.

We live in a society that encourages us to always show how successful and happy we are. What I am hoping to start is an honest conversation with friends and fellow creatives, about what I have learned through my experience, to give a little insight on my creative process, but also to share some of the struggles I have gone through and expose my vulnerabilities. I want to be talking about lots of nice things that make me happy and inspired as well as how I carried on my illustration projects while having a full-time job, how I have dealt with bad days, how I got out of many creative slumps, how I have dealt with rejection, fear and lack of motivation.

By no means I intend to give career hacks, or give lessons on how to build a creative career, because I am still in the initial phase of my creative journey, so if you are reading this and you are an experienced artist or designer it would be very helpful if you leave a comment, if you can. Opinions and advice are welcome and strongly appreciated. So without further ado, it is time to finish this introduction and move on to the first content, I am feeling jazzed up and have a lot of things to say!

In my next post I will explore a recent conversation I have had with myself (as if often happens when I have a long coach journey), and it is going to be about the ugly side too, so… keep reading, and leave a comment if you like!

Wishing you all a prosperous 2020!

Love,

Camilla