What brought me here today:
A large part of my on-going attention to my mental health, is identifying the emotions I’m feeling. That might sound odd to some, but for me, it keeps me on top of regulating my emotions. Anything that feels odd or out of place is scrutinized closely, so it doesn’t snow-ball into something potentially scarier and harder to deal with further down the road.
Another reason I do this ’emotional pin-pointing’ is so that I don’t become, what my husband calls, ‘axel wrapped’, i.e., completely immobilized by my emotional states. When I get axel wrapped, everything I do more or less comes to a screeching halt. Nothing gets done until I tease apart what has gotten me so twisted up inside my head.
Lately, I’ve been feeling dogged by intense feelings of envy, or perhaps jealously regarding my lack of success. Success being interpreted as: followers on social media platforms, sales, traffic to my website, and people reading my blog. I do not like feeling this way. So I need to take a closer look at my emotions.
Defining the emotion:
A lifetime of being a middle child has securely tamped-down most of my feelings of jealousy. There’s a part of me that kind of shakes it off and says, “Yeah. That’s just the way it is.” and I move on. But then there are the rare times in which I can’t seem to just shake it off and keep moving. Something works it’s way in and starts to irritate me.
Initially, during this most recent emotional irritation, I more or less ignored it. Figuring it would go away on it’s own. But the more I ignored it, the more insistent the irritation became. I wrote about this, in part, earlier this year. However, this post was more about the doubts I have about my own creative worth as an artist. And only peripherally about being jealous of other creators perceived success.
What’s in a word?
I thought that what I was feeling was jealousy. But upon closer inspection, and a bit of lateral reading on the internet, a more accurate description would be envy. In American English, jealousy and envy have become interchangeable. In fact, they’re two very different emotions, rooted in the same base emotion of fear.
I’m experiencing a little of jealousy and envy to be honest. Feelings of low self esteem are not an uncommon occurrence for me. Part of me is feeling incredibly uncertainty about the future of my business. Jealousy seems to be tied more to interpersonal relations. I have no fears my husband will leave me. What I’m feeling seems to tick off more indicators on the envy checklist.
Intense feelings of inferiority (creative and intellectual), sadness towards other’s (i.e.; artists that are much more successful than I am) accomplishments, as well as some resentment regarding my own status within the larger arts community (being seen as a ‘crafty person’ and not an artist).
Not a little, a lot:
Okay. I’ll be honest. I’m more or less rolling around in the poison that my envy of other artists and creators have stirred in me right now. Even when I know, I KNOW, that what I’m doing as an artist is in many ways different from the much more successful artists and creators I know/or follow. It’s the success part that’s just sticking in my throat right now.
I do not sell enough work to be profitable. Not in any way, shape or form. I need to be able to contribute to the household expenses. It’s incredibly embarrassing to be such an absolute failure at being able to sell my art. And don’t try to placate me by saying things like, “You’ll be so famous after you die!” Well, at least I don’t have to pay rent, or go to the doctor, or eat anymore after I’m dead. So, yeah. I’ll have that going for me.
Sorry. Envy makes me pissy and more sarcastic than usual. Buckle-up for the next section. It’s gonna get worse before it gets better.
Last night, while I was working on three new tiny dolls I started running a simulation in my mind. To make more money, I need to sell more work. Maybe I should just design a doll that I can make over and over again. You know, make them as exactly the same. Give the group of a dozen or so identical dolls the same name. Then, put them in my online store for like, $5 each.
I could eliminate a lot of embroidery work too. I could just draw the simple faces on the dolls with fabric markers. And instead of sewing the hair onto each of the dolls heads, I could just do a quick glue job instead. Braids take a while to create, especially the braided buns, so those will have to be dropped. I’ll use the cheaper 100% acrylic felt to save money. No more boots either. The same goes for the stands. I could stop wiring the arms and legs so they are posable. All three take too much time.
That would make me around $60 if I sold all twelve of the dolls for $5 each. This is before shipping though. Maybe I could just offer free shipping too? So, out of that $60, I might have to eat around $30 in shipping charges. But that’s only if I send them the cheapest letter rate. Which means the dolls have to stay small enough to be shipped that way. So if I just stick with a super-stripped-down doll, I might make a small profit.
Did I lie?
Sorry for the pissy, whiny, sarcastic rant, but I needed to get it out. I know that no one owes me anything. People either like my work and purchase it, or they don’t. There’s nothing I can do about that. I sometimes am just so insanely envious of those who can take one or two ideas and turn it into a fabulous, money making creative business.
I’d been told, way in the past, by someone I didn’t like a whole lot, that I needed to lower my prices because I was an “unknown entity”. Translated art-speak: I wasn’t famous enough yet to command $50 for a piece of my artwork. The gallery owner declined to show my work. It kind of felt similar to those job listings that are listed as entry level, but demand ten years of experience and two advanced degrees just to apply.
So now what?
You tell me. I’m putting together a Patreon, but I am so fearful that it will fail. The traffic on my website is flatlining. And, don’t forget, creating art is my therapy. So…when I feel like crap about my artwork not selling I can always, uh…go make more artwork that won’t sell either. Yeah. I guess I’m still being incredibly pissy, whiny and sarcastic.
Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you again next Friday.