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Start writing your blog post here.

Okay I will. Or at least a few lines later I will; the joke (and yes, I am using the term loosely) doesn't work if you can't see the first line but also doesn't work if you can. For the joke to be accurate I would have to replace the first line.

So that whole opening paragraph doesn't make a lot of sense does it?

Not unless we engage a little of our collective cognitive dissonance and paper over some of the cracks in my previous statement.

What does that have to do with today's blog? Does it speak to the overall themes of what I'm writing in some relevant way that I can bring full circle with a neat little bow at the end? Or will we need to engage yet more cognitive dissonance to pretend any of this makes sense?

Who knows! Not me.

Today's blog is about my art career.

An illustration of the Mad Hatter's Tea Party
It's been a hell of a party so far...

So, we'll start off with a little background before we get to the how it's going.

This time last year I had very recently been released into the wild by my employer as a result of the whole Covid situation and the general view by my then employers that I, and my skillset, were surplus to requirements at the time. In fairness to them, I worked in the party industry and there were no parties.

So I found myself adrift and in need of a new plan for gainful employment. In a pandemic. Just before Christmas.

So I did the sensible thing and decided to devote myself to trying to get my art career off the ground.

After a little bit of juggling things with the DWP (the people in charge of giving money to the unemployed and helping them find work), using their employment schemes to get access to some extra training in Photoshop and Illustrator and gain a few minor qualifications along the way, I was ready to go.

Wolverine with his claws at the throat of a defeated dragon
Me, raring to go...

So now we fast forward a little bit to now, about 6 months into my first stab at an illustration career.

How are things, I hear you ask silently.

What have you learnt, your voices cry out without making a sound.

I love it.

That's what I've learnt, and that's how things are going.

I love it like a fish loves the ocean. I didn't have a picture of a fish.

I mean it's not particularly easy as a career choice, particularly as I have very little to start with. No real art qualifications (I'm pretty much self taught), virtually no industry contacts and virtually no industry experience. And I am not one of nature's networkers.

But in the last few months I have managed to get a relatively steady supply of work (a genuine shock to me if I'm honest, until recently I was very much used to my artwork disappearing into the black unending void of the internet without so much as a "like") and I have loved every single minute of it.

Even when it has been horrifically stressful.

Seriously, I don't think anyone can get as stressed as I do half way through a project.

A nervous Humpty Dumpty sitting on a wall
Visual representation of me waiting for client feedback.

But it's amazing and I love it. After spending most of my adult life doing "not illustration" I feel like I've finally found my little groove in life.

Which is not to say that these last few months have been particularly easy. I'm still not at a point where I can make decent money as an illustrator and I have returned to my previous employment on a part time basis to help fund my existence. But the whole focus of my professional life has shifted now and my priorities have changed.

Before, my old job felt like it was trying to consume everything and my life as an artist was that little piece of me I was desperately trying to keep alive; something that was getting harder and harder each year.

Now, that little piece of me is beginning to flourish again and grow and I think in time that what is left of my old job (part time) is going to disappear. To put it in slightly romanticised terms, I get to be completely me.

Behold my prettiness!

So, after this slightly vague and overly serious blog, how do we get this back around to cognitive dissonance.

Well, as a career, illustration is hard. It's hard to break into, it's hard to create art for people, it's hard to find work. It's not easy to succeed. There is every chance of failing even if I try my very hardest and manage a run of perfect illustrations.

But I love it. I genuinely love it.

And because I love it I am willing to apply that cognitive dissonance, to put aside those faults, those reasons for giving up and just keep trying. And if I'm lucky and I can keep it up long enough, maybe I'll be laughing.

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