Illustration and I have had a turbulent relationship since stumbling into each other back in 2011. It’s been a passionate relationship with multiple affairs with pencil, paper and Photoshop. Our relationship flickers between love and hate and we never seem to figure out how to be stable and committed to one and other.
In the past, illustration has cradled me in its arms, surrounded me with positive affirmations and provided me with a grand total of 589 Instagram followers. It has provided me with aspirations, inspiration and confirmation of who I want to be in the future. However, we sometimes argue like cat and dog. We pretend not to like each other, we yell, cry and push sketchbooks off the table, and only have a pitiful 589 Instagram followers. But most of the time, I’ve felt like we barely coexisted. Regardless of the amount of times I’ve tried to leave illustration behind, it has dawned on me that we simply cannot live apart. So I’ve put my foot down and demanded change so we can live a more fulfilling life together.
So what do I do? Being outrageously passionate about something but not understanding how you fit into that thing can be extremely emotionally draining. How could I stop feeling disconnected and lost from illustration? After university, this feeling consumed me immensely and it meant that I didn’t create anything of any substance for a whole year. Looking back, I was actually suffering from depression. I remember describing it as walking through custard. I couldn’t get out of feeling useless at illustration, feeling like I was always catching up, feeling like a failure compared to my peers. So, I turned my back on illustration and stuffed it into the back corner of my mind and pretended not to be interested. Illustration wept in the corner, and cried out for attention, but I gave it no response because depression had stripped it from me. I wanted to be angry with it – how dare illustration not provide me with the fabulous freelance lifestyle I wanted while swimming in clients and money. How dare it take me away from my love for Plymouth and my friends. How dare it provide me with this shitty insurance job. I wanted everything to be illustration’s fault. Yet underneath the anger, I mostly just felt guilt for abandoning something I was passionate about.
It took more than I thought to get out of depression, mainly giving up my job for an art shop job but also amending parts of my personality so I could be happier with myself. I had counselling, I had CBT, I gave up chocolate for a while. Late last year, I was able to slowly rekindle my relationship with illustration – I made a portfolio and I set up an online store. I did these things slowly because I was scared that Illustration would set me up to fail again. I knew that the only real way I could succeed this time was by figuring out who I am as a creative, so I did my research.
What did I want to achieve? What did I want to do on a day to day basis? What did other creatives do?
One day, it just clicked. It took my whole 3 year degree and 2 years as a post graduate to realise, I’m two creatives. I’m two people with two creative personalities that struggle to work together well. I understand that I sound nuts but I simply mean that all my aspirations didn’t gel together into one relationship with illustration. Illustration and I needed to have a more open relationship.
I split all my endeavours into two creatives – Naomi Batts would be the editorial and narrative illustrator, the person who deals with clients, made things for magazines and had the online portfolio. The other, Noomi Studio, was a designer/maker. Someone who has an online shop, speaks as though they are a collective, has a logo and made prints, jewellery, ceramics etc etc. I am one creative who spills themselves into two personas.
So, out of this were born two personas, who could both have a pleasant and stable relationship with illustration. I could divide my time equally between being the two personas while becoming more professional and becoming more comfortable with illustration. The entirety of my career has been these two sides of my creative personality fighting against each other but now they could just be independent of each other. Now I could be more complete, my glass was now half full instead of half empty.
So what’s the moral of this story? Your relationship with your passion can be anything you choose, regardless of what the norm is. You can also have lots! One passion doesn’t have to outshine the others. Do what feels natural, be the creative you want to be and more importantly – be the person you want to be.