Authentic self.. Sounds like a hard thing to be when you’re surrounded by others who do similar things to what you’re doing, right? To start doing something you love (like some type of hobby no matter what it is) you surround yourself with like artists and realize that the community is huge! This is amazing because you’ll have so much story and inspiration! But.. After a while, you start to wonder when you’ll be able to differentiate yourself from the crowd. This is what took me the longest to realize about my art and I’m here to tell you you’re not alone.
I started journaling right after college when I didn’t have a job yet and all this free time. I started to immerse myself into this community and saw so many different styles! Bujo, junk journaling, hobonichi.. I kind of tested the waters with everything! I had no clue what I was doing aside from wanting to create and write! Slowly over time as I looked at different things I saw in my community I realized some things..
1. I’m not that good at drawing and although I could get better with practice, it wasn’t something I wanted to invest my time in because I wouldn’t be able to just craft freely.
2. I loved collaging. I like different paper textures and stickers that I could piece together.
With these two things, I hit the floor running with my own style. I collaged as I would for junk journaling, but kept it minimal so I still had space to write. I learned quickly that this wasn’t original as many others did it and this community was into traveler’s notebooks. I wasn’t upset at all of course, but the quest to be authentic continued.
I started to design stickers to use in my journal and found all these beautiful stickers from talented artists and tried to make something similar (but same problem with why I didn’t do much bujo, I can’t draw that well..) so I produced what I thought was decent and people seemed to like it.. But.. Upon reflection, I realized I didn’t like anything I was making.
It was just all things I felt others would like because those who made something similar had a lot of luck with it. I didn’t have fun making those stickers and felt like it was a chore to make more. As all this was conflicting inside me I was also doing more experimenting in my journal.
I experimented with all types of mediums in my journal and loved how watercolor looked best. I started to incorporate more of that into my journal. This made my work stand out a little bit more and I started to feel like I was becoming more original in that area and then it hit me..
I love watercolor because it’s abstract. I love doodling because that didn’t require me to look up references or anything. Just lines and dots! I fused the two things I like and was good at and made something that I am proud of. This post of my journey literally happened two days ago. It’s been over a year and I have finally found my authentic self. Uncaring of who will like it because it’s so different from what I see others creating, but I like it and I enjoy doing it. That’s what it’s all about to begin with. Me and my own opinion of myself and my work.
Yeah I get caught up in the numbers sometimes because it’s just nice to feel like your art is liked by others.. But trust me when I say, that won’t satisfy you. You really have to love what you’re doing and not feel like you have to be up to standard with others in your community. Only then would you be your authentic self. Took me a year to really find me and I hope no matter how long it takes you guys, you’ll find yourself one day too! (:
*Check out all her amazing paper creations on Instagram @paperludus!