Tuesday, 25 June 2013

On completing an MA and feeling weird about it.





I finished my MA and, in truth, I am incredibly glad that its all over. It is difficult to process how I've felt about the whole experience; often frustrating and anger-inducing, sometimes bewildering, occasionally inspiring. It has been a long and complicated two years and I think it'll take me a while to work out what, exactly, they meant to me.

  And now. Now. Hmm.... People keep asking me what I'm 'going to do now' and quite frankly I have no idea. It is as though 'now'  is a whole new world, a precipice I am teetering on the edge of and what comes next should be big, bold, a dramatic change. Except it won't be. It'll be exactly the same, at least outwardly.  I will keep freelancing and continue to make books and prints and do a bit of teaching here and there. I will carry on taking too many coffee-shop breaks. It is only inwardly that there has been a change, of course there has. Two years of thinking about your work, about what you do and why you do it will undoubtedly change things for you. There are times when I think all that academic navel-gazing has caused permanent damage, other times I think its allowed me to really get to grips with what is important to me, creatively. Either way its been exhausting and now I find myself.... no, actually, I don't know where I find myself. I think my work has been, and will continue, changing. I paint more and draw less, I write a lot more than I ever used to, I struggle with client work in a way I didn't in the past. The only thing that seems fixed is that stories are at the very heart of what I do and what I want to do. It is the story that matters most to be. I like telling them, I like reading them and hearing them. I like how sharing a story with another person can create wonder. And perhaps that means that the stories I tell won't always be told with static images, or even images at all, perhaps I'll write some things, or simply tell them. I wonder whether, for a while, I won't even be an illustrator but something less clearly defined. Its hard to say, hard but certainly interesting. I am learning to see flux as something exciting and not bewildering. I like that my work is not a fixed point, just as I, myself, am not a fixed point. It will change as I do. And whilst, professionally, that seems terrifying, I think, maybe, it'll be good for me.

7 comments:

Steph Ayres said...

Congratulations for finishing your MA, and congratulations for searching within yourself for what truly gets you going. It can be hard to recognise what that is and really go for it, but I feel that you will be successful in whatever you end up doing. Blurred boundaries of illustrator/storyteller sound good to me, throw in whatever else you want into the mix! Its all good, whatever comes out :)

Tom Sarmo said...

I very much liked your post. Finally I'm accepting that flux, change, whatever it's called--has to be the only unchanging state of being throughout existence. Maybe especially for an artist. I am sort of sure that the cultural demand for a person (artist) to focus/be clearly defined/be identifiable is someone else's need, not mine.
Btw, Congrats!


nellie said...

Congrats on your MA! I feel like I'm in the same boat as you. I graduated with my BFA in Graphic Design last year (after being in school for almost 8 years, due to changes in school. long story.) and I'm still trying to figure out what it is I really want to do. I have freelance client work that pays the bills, but I just want to stay home and draw all day. I realized after I quit my job and freelanced in-house at a stationery company, that I don't really want a graphic design job, although I still love graphic design.

I think flux is a good thing. It makes us more flexible as creative people and it helps us grow.

Dawn M said...

Well done Lizzy on your commitment to finishing your MA, you are so talented and everyday is an adventure, no need to 'fix' onto something. Best Wishes, Dawn xx

Karen Sandstrom said...

I really enjoyed this post. It very much described my feelings at around this time last year. I had just finished my BFA (after going back to school following a long journalism career). I know what you mean about the academic navel-gazing, but I'm sure you experienced great growth. May it bring continued confidence and good work -- as I'm sure it will.
Congratulations.

rachelvater said...

Really thought provoking article. Im in the same boat as a few who have already posted comments, completed my BA Illustration last year and wonder what about it has actually helped me. I've done far more experimenting with subject matters and materials since graduating than I ever did during the course of three years in uni.im glad I did it but I think everyone asks the question of "when do I get there?" and also where is "there"? Anyway, very interesting article thanks for posting. X

StaceyFacex said...

This was a post that I quite connected with - I finish my MA in September and EVERYONE loves asking, and what's next? Unlike you, I am not an artist, but a lot of those emotions are there. I am shaped by my experiences, but I'm not quite sure where I've found myself yet.