Sketch magic and the leap of faith

Claiming my identity as an artist and leading a relevant lifestyle has probably been the hardest and at the same time the most purposeful thing I’ve ever done. Art is the longest game, requiring hours and days and months and years of building your foundations and expertise, battling with the kind of adversity that comes with low income, sacrificing your free time and relationships to pursue a dream that offers no guarantees of viability. And if you are as critical of your work as I often am then it is easy to hide away in shame and become a non-entity.

And that’s basically what I did for about five years. Until 2018 when the adversity became so intense, it stripped me down to my basics and forced me to come out of my shell and start showing the world what I was really about.

Black and white ink drawing of a manga witch holding up a glowing twig with the word Eurika! written next her,
Magic can be found in unexpected places

So, in the last half of 2018, the time had finally come to launch the FayJay website and social media channels. We should have launched the previous year, but life’s drain blew up and I was hit by my second-hand hardware giving up the ghost, followed by the sudden demise of my dad, followed by my getting kicked out of the house I lived in for four years resulting in my having to move house twice in five months.

I made a rather pragmatic realisation after all that: at any moment my life could erupt and I could find myself spiraling away from the course I’d set. I would need to be more flexible, streamlined and resolute if I was to transition into a fully fledged, self-sustaining artist. I cut out the plans I had for bigger projects and started concentrating on smaller scale stuff.

I went back to the basics writing flash fiction, poetry and sketching. In doing that I also started liberating myself from all the insecurity and perfectionism that was holding me back.

Sketch of a mummy made of marshmallow that's being eaten by a little girl dressed up as a fairy and a little boy dressed up as a wizard.
The marshmallow mummy

Now, I’ve never been much for sketching as such, unless it was tied up to some bigger project. But when I cut out the bigger aspirations, sketching just for fun became a liberating experience.

Not being able to afford a fancy tablet, I decided to use the glittering new sketchbook Jeff gave me as a birthday gift. I spent a few hours researching materials and ended up getting a set of Pigma Micron waterproof fineliner pens and a set of Winsor & Newton Promarkers. They helped me connect with that original creative passion when, as a high school student, I was experimenting incessantly in inks and watery media.

Sketch of a water sprite splashing through a puddle while rain drops form a crown on its head.
The rain king

The difference is unlike then, this time I had a purpose. I would share my sketches, no matter how flawed they turned out. I would give up my shyness and perfectionism. I would accept being vulnerable to other people’s scrutiny, to their interest or lack thereof.

I had become aware of the art and illustration market enough to realise that nobody makes perfect art, especially not off the bat. It’s just that most artists I’ve been admiring are really clever at hiding their errors and their seams. Social media is especially brilliant at creating a more polished expression of reality, but for me it presented the perfect way to declare my artistic identity and make myself accountable (to my loved ones, at least, who had witnessed me embark on this long, transformative journey into the creative darkness. The time had come to begin shedding some light.)

The first sketch I posted was called A Leap of Faith. It consisted of a long-eared bunny jumping up through undergrowth, stretching out to reach a few stars that are dangling just above its head. Just close enough to risk a mighty bounce.

Sketch of a long-eared bunny jumping up through undergrowth, stretching out to reach a few stars that are dangling just above its head.
A leap of faith

It had nothing to do with the autumn theme I had decided to pursue for September 2018. It was more esoteric. It was more about acting on the need to trust myself, my talent, my instincts and my potential and sharing the whole with you.

Art demands bravery.

And so it had to be the first one to go.

What kind of adversity are you battling against and how are you winning?

Would love to hear you thoughts in the comments below.

Learn yourself, free yourself!