I get a few emails every week asking for advice on becoming a designer... 99.9 % of these emails are from women.
I think maybe in this political climate where women's issues are STILL an issue I've become increasingly aware of the divide that exists not only in society but also within us as women. We have to stop letting our gender limit us, consciously or subconsciously. We have to learn to stand up for ourselves in the moment, regardless of whether that means someone won't like it or not. We deserve to build lives that are uniquely ours, with a point of view that is not only just as important - it's necessary for the universal balance.
By society's standards I am not a success. I'm scraping by. A lot of the work I do looks cool, but there's not a lot of money in designing for music. Visual artists are probably at the very bottom of the food chain in the music industry. And women doing this are few and far between. But by my own standards, I'm doing pretty good. Sure, I'd love a little more of a safety net, but I'm making it on my own terms and providing for my family.
Since I quit my full time job to become an independent illustrator & designer, the quality of my work is more in line with where I want to be. I can spend the hours necessary in order to really make satisfying pieces that I can be proud of. I also see more of my kids and I'm a better mom... and they see what I do first hand. All of the stages of the creative process, which in turn inspires them to be creative in their own ways.
In order to be good at anything there has to be a level of obsession. This is not the life for everyone, but in the arts it's a necessity, I think. It's an eccentric life. People don't always understand it. And it's not a lifestyle that aligns with the societal expectations placed on us as women.
"What do you want to be when you grow up?" This is still not a question that that is asked as seriously of girls as of boys. It totally bums me out... pssst: I have a feeling it's because we have the babies.
My advice to all of my fellow lady artists out there, from someone who's still finding her way:
1) Be prepared to work your ass off. No one gets good at anything without working hard.
2) Because of things we can't control; The body we were born into, the voice we have, etc., it's harder to get the respect or recognition we deserve. It's just a fact. But who cares. Raise your damn hand anyway. Kick ass at what you do. It's going to take you longer, but don't give up. If we all strive to reach our full potential, the more the climate will change.
3) Stop apologizing. Don't make excuses. Don't be a victim. And don't sell yourself short. (That last one is hard for all artists. It's universal.)
4) Take unsolicited advice with a grain of salt, or just ignore it. Especially if it's from someone who doesn't remotely understand your struggles in life and art.
5) Over-thinking can completely stop creation. Just do it.
6) Life is going to be harder for you, it's just a fact. No one has ever given me a gold star for being the mother of two kids and trying to eek out a name for myself in a male dominant industry. But I'd like to see some people juggle everything I do during the day and stay up nights working on a project because I refuse to let my circumstances affect my artistic standards.
7) Everything is up to you, which means everything is possible.
Choosing to be an artist (no matter what your gender) is a lifestyle that does come with some sacrifice. But if this is what you want to do, there really isn't a choice. Because creating is something you have to do, and it's not anything you can stop. And doing what you love is what life is all about.