Last Christmas I got my husband the best present ever! (If I can toot my own horn for a sec.) Which little to my knowledge was really the best Christmas present to me! A beginners calligraphy set. I was amazed at how fun it was to practice the many different strokes and eventually string a number of them together to create a piece of work, art really.
Between a few months of practicing and an awesome workshop it didn’t take long until I was neck deep in gouache, nibs, and paper. Excited about this new talent of mine I eagerly started filling requests from friends and family for prints, envelopes, invitations, menus, and more. This is when I realized I am a lion!
A fierce, powerful…cowardly lion!
I suddenly felt very exposed. I was still learning and felt very inadequate. All of what I considered my imperfect art was now on display for the world to see! I became very self conscious and it was difficult for me to move forward. All of sudden it took me an eternity to finish a project. I didn’t want to do it because I was afraid of my inadequacies; would I have enough time to produce products, would anything even sell, would anyone like my art? These questions almost paralyzed me and I have heard many beginners confess similar things.
One of my favorite quotes on fear comes from Elise and Scott Grice at @heysweatpea
“I want you to know fear isn’t the problem. In fact, it’s the answer. It’s your northern star, pointing you towards what matters to you most.
Pushing through fear requires stepping into the unknown. The unknown means change. We won’t know what or how we need to change until we push into the fear. Until we take that step, see how far our boundaries are pushed, and then adjust to make room for the new opportunities that are now open to us.
So how did I overcome fear and actually get started?? Well, I’m still working on it, but here are a few things I’ve learned so far.
- Create opportunities for yourself! Offer your services to the type of people you would like to work with. If you don’t want to work on a real-life project, make one up for yourself. Create a problem you can solve or a demand you can fill.
- Give yourself a deadline. This one is sooo important! I know how easy it is to keep putting something off because you don’t feel ready or it isn’t the right time, or (insert your favorite rationalization here). I am not saying to produce willy nilly or put out subpar work. You definitely need to think about timing, your resources, and your audience’s reaction. But give yourself time to sit down and plan out your strategy. Then set a date! Set small goals and deadlines that will keep you on track. Deadlines are so important in not letting the cowardly lion take over and hide your work forever!
- Say yes to opportunities that are presented to you,
even ifespecially if they scare you. I just had my own experience with this and will be sharing it soon (my first stylized shoot!!). Take that step to explore where your boundaries are and where they can be stretched.
- Don’t wait until things are perfect! If you wait until things are perfect you will probably never start! You’ll never get anything out there because there are always things to improve on! I have had a really hard time with this step. Case in point – this blog! I would love to have a beautiful, interactive website with perfect branding and thousands of followers. But those things take time and resources to build. But like I said, if you don’t start with something, you won’t have anything to build upon.
And so consider this my first brick. I am right there with you, just getting started in this big world of fine writing and curvy fonts known as calligraphy. But I am so excited to be here as a fellow traveler, a former cowardly lion turned travel companion extraordinaire, to talk with, ask questions to, and consult with on the yellow brick road to our Sumi Ink covered Emerald City!