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Personal Artistic Efficacy Part: 1

What brought me here today:

The artwork that I’m currently creating around the theme of dolls is not what I intended to do when entered art school. My current creative output seems to have very little to do with any of the subjects I studied. Art related or not. Long time readers of my blog know that the doll as subject matter is intertwined with my childhood that developed into a livelong love for dolls in all shapes and forms.

I recently overheard a conversation that made me ask myself questions about my own art education. What has my formal education in art has had on my current production of creative work? Has the time spent teaching art had any kind of impact on my artwork? These things have an influence on my artwork. But how much? And to what degree? Is the transferable knowledge be understood by those who view my artwork?

Graphic design:

When I was accepted to Herron in the early 90’s, it was small art school. It had about half of the students it has today. And a different location. I knew when I enrolled that I intended to study visual communications, i.e., graphic design. My intention after graduation was to work as a graphic designer. I progressed through the four-year program and felt as though I was a competent graphic designer upon graduation.

I had some jobs as a graphic designer. There was also a lot of freelance as a graphic designer. To be honest, I made steadier pay as a clerical temp. That’s what I would do while still doing freelance here when it came along.

Bad fit:

I may have been a competent graphic designer, but I was not emotionally well-suited for the career. Not in any way, shape, or form. I’m was too attidudinal with many of the coworkers that I needed to work with in advertising and graphic design. It was demeaning to me to have some manager with no art experience tell me that my work was bad. Then there were the clients who I never could please with my work. It was a horrible job fit for me all the way around.

What serves me now:

I enjoyed the hell out of my design courses at Herron. Even though at the time, I may have been less than pleased with my course work, myself or my artistic out-put. I worked very hard in my courses, and learned a great deal about design and typography.

To me, the evidence of an education in graphic design is so obvious in my artwork. But there are still some people who are surprised about this. I’m not sure if it’s the seeming incompatabily of graphic design work and my personal artwork? I apply the same design principles to my artwork that I did to any of my graphic design projects. After all, the elements an principles of art and design aren’t different for 2 and 3 dimentional artwork.

Today, my sense of colour, shape, and rhythm are used in the same manner that I used them as a graphic designer. I don’t question myself when working with these tools of art and design when creating my personal artwork. Nor did I question myself much about them when I was working as a graphic designer.


I took as many illustration courses as I could while at Herron. And while I think I was a competent graphic designer, I was in no way talented enough to become a working illustrator in the real world. The work I created in my illustration courses was timid and lackluster. Perhaps in with much more time and practice I might have gotten better. I just don’t think my heart was truly in it, if you know what I mean.

Bad fit?

I don’t like being told what to create. There is something inside me that just completely rebels against it. Again, I think with a lot of time and practice I could have been an okay illustrator. But I don’t think I ever would have been content as a professional illustrator. Or perhaps, I would never have been very good at illustrating other people’s thoughts and ideas.

What serves me now:

Those illustration courses introduced me to a wide variety of artisic media that could be utilized for illustration. Although I do remember absolutely detesting the work I had to do in one introductory illystration course in which I had to use Berol Prismacolor markers. The smelled awful! They were also pricey. And I could never get them to do what I wanted them to do either.

I learned a lot about how to use different drawing media, and how to use different media together in the same illustration. My illustration courses also taught me the importance of research for my creative work. One of the supplies I was required to have was a library card. Finding visual reference was expected of us.

In both my illustration and graphic design courses, we were expected to do a lot of preliminary sketches in preparation for our final work. Yeah. I learned to do a lot of sketches during my time in these courses. One strange lessons I took away was that my best ideas were usually in the first five sketches.


I began taking printmaking at the beginning of my junior year I think. The first course I signed up for was Lithography I. Printmaking seemed to dovetail nicely into my graphic design major. It was the head of the graphic design department who recommended I take the course. This was one of two memorable interactions with him. Huh. Come to think of it, he and I didn’t have a lot of interaction period.

Printmaking fulfilled a natural inclination for me; making multiples of things. After my first lithography course, I went on to take etching and woodcut courses as well. Part of me felt like there was the possibility of becoming an illustrator using printmaking as my medium of choice. However, attempts at bridging the two while I was still in school fell soundly flat.

Not bad at all:

Fine art printmaking was the first area of artistic study and practice since my freshman year core curriculum courses. It was in these courses that I began exploring creative expressions that I couldn’t utilize within my graphic design and illustration courses. In my printmaking courses, I was making personal art that I was actually happy with. It was fabulous and messy and sometimes slightly dangerous. I still have a scar on my right hand from a chemical burn.

What serves me now?

If you’ve seen my artwork, you know I am constantly creating new pieces. The dolls I create can be similar, but they’re never exactly the same. It always seems like in each successive doll, I change something. Each change is an attempt to get closer to what I want to say creatively.

Study and practice in printmaking and illustration allow me to see the entirety of the piece of artwork that I’m creating. And how that piece fits into the larger body of my creative output. I change something a little. Create a piece of art. Then assess it. And make more adjustments before creating the next piece. All with the hopes that the body of work I’m creating fits together and tells the story that I want it to tell. If that is at all possible.

There’s always more:

My natural talkative nature has made the blog post that I wanted to post today exceedingly large. I’ve decided to divide it in half and publish Part 2 on 19 October 2021. I’m aware that not everyone who reads my blog posts wants or needs to sit down and read a gigantic blog post!

There is still much more to this particular subject for me to write about. My creative life doesn’t seem to travel in a straight line. And this may seem confusing to some people. While there may be a few things that I would change regarding my past. My education and experiences with the arts and creating art is not one of them.

My current artwork is a combination of myself as child and the artistic media ancy gained through years of artistic practice.

So what now?

Back to work! I’ve almost completed five imp dolls that I want to have in my online shop in the next few days. The boots for the dolls were finished this morning. And I have some additional details to add to each doll. Oh. And then I started the clothing for two additional imp dolls. Because I couldn’t resist trying out just one more tiny alteration to the embroidery and applique on their dresses.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Tuesday.

PS: There is something going-on with the spell check that I’m using for my blog. There may be some spelling errors that I didn’t catch. I’m a rotten speller. Sorry for the inconvenience.

3 thoughts on “Personal Artistic Efficacy Part: 1

  1. Two things:
    1. I wonder what it is about some people that they are just inherently wired to be independent workers, not really under other’s purview. Obviously I see this with both you and your husband, and I see it in me, except I’ve always been scared to strike out on my own because when I did, it didn’t turn out right, and I still have some lingering scars from the words used by others.

    2. You know you have a book here, right? A combination of images and essays. Of course you know, you both know. I’m just stating the obvious. 😊

  2. 1. I don’t know that I ever thought of myself as the kind of person who would try to start her own small business until I was referred to Työbileet (translation: “Work Party”) by a friend of mine. It was completely free to people who think they might want to be an entrepreneur. I made some amazing friends and learned so much about myself. It took time, but through their program I was able to sort out what my strengths and weaknesses were, and even uncover potential I didn’t know I had.

    2. I’m not sure anyone would want to read an essay I wrote. I only have a handful of regular blog readers as it is. Right now, my blog seems to be a diary of what I’m creating and thinking about while I do it.

  3. […] part two of my personal artistic efficacy post. If you haven’t read part one, you can find it here. The original post just became too long to be read in blog post form. I’m not a spring […]

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