Friday, October 15, 2010

My Dilemma

11x14 inches
Coloured pencils on matte board

After redoing this sample illustration for Macmillan Publishers three times this week (about 30 hours work), I received word today that they have decided not to proceed as they feel this illustration lacks the drama and movement that they are looking for. My overwhelming feeling was one of sheer relief. My family will vouch that I have been a huge stress head and quite challenging to live with whilst working on this project. It has been a goal of mine to try and move more into the area of illustration, but I am starting to have second thoughts. I did struggle with this picture, because those of you familiar with my art would know that I prefer to work on themes that are tender, and gentle, as opposed to dramatic and violent. When working on portraits, and whatever art projects take my fancy, I am generally quite at peace, but the main problem is the unpredictability of the income. Whilst working on Saxon today (and being quite at peace), I started to reevaluate the direction that I am going. One of the main reasons I left nursing was to have the opportunity to work doing something that I love and still have time to be the best possible Mum and wife I could be (I certainly wouldn't have fitted that description this week!) without feeling stressed a lot of the time. My dilemma therefore, is whether to keep striving for a career in illustration and the potential for a better income, or to keep pottering away as I have been. Life is never simple!!!


sue said...

Reading through your post Karen I really think you've answered your own question :o)

I love your 'gentle' portraits - you're a master in that field.

Unless you are dependent on the income from your art why put yourself and your family through the stress of doing work you aren't happy/comfortable with.

I get very stressed with commissioned work and am deliberately moving towards doing more exhibition pieces (which of course has its own uncertainties). However, I still don't say NO often enough which is silly as I don't need to earn money (but its always nice to be able to pay my way)!!

Whilst its disappointing that Macmillan aren't going to proceed after you've spent so much time working on the series - I can feel your relief from here !!

Colette Theriault said...

OH, Karen, I am sorry to learn about your experience with the publisher. Sometimes, we do need to sit back and re-evaluate our goals and what makes us happy. Regardless of the money potential, if it ends up making one sick and stressed in the process, it's probably not worth it.
All the best, Colette
BTW, your artwork is amazing!!

Miniature Art by Karen Hull said...

Thank you so much Colette and Sue for your wonderful words of encouragement. I guess I feel guilty Sue, if I'm not contributing much to the family income, but we do get by and my husband is very supportive. He does say often though, that one day I will get a break and I wonder if he would be disappointed if that 'break' never comes. But life is too short and I stress easily, so for now I am content to keep plodding along.

Artoholic said...

Saxon is beautiful!

Karen, you know my feelings - I'm definately a fan of "Poor-But-Happy" over the "Rich-But-Miserable" way of thinking. And it doesn't have to be "Poor" as such, more an Irregular Income.

You work stands on it's own merits, you don't need anyone to tell you what to amend, what to research, what to focus on. Go with your passions, you've proven that so many times that it's a winner in the public eye!

Just in the last month I've become much more picky over the jobs that I'm offered - if I'm not interested I'll recommend another. I just know how cross I'd be with myself if I'm stuck doing somehting that I just have zero interest in. Money offered also determines if it is worth the angst. If you're getting paid mega dollars to draw flesh eating zombies, then you can learn to love the blood and guts. But, if it's peanuts, that should be yanking the chain of the Warning Bell loud and clear. Don't let big, established company names fool you into thinking they're going to play fair either. EG - a BIG marketing company here has put out a job wanting 300 letters/invitations HANDWRITTEN (not calligraphy), for that Personal Touch. The catch - the WHOLE JOB for $300. Are they kidding????

Unfortunately a lot of clients seriously underestimate the time that goes into illustration, painting, calligraphy etc. Even how long it takes to handwrite a letter apparently. OR, maybe they fully realise the time committment and choose to pay "slave" rates anyway.

I am upfront now with my rates for commissioned jobs. Take it or leave it is my attitude, as I know my time is worth a lot to me, my family, and my own sense of being valued for skills and knowledge. I don't want to be pulled away from the family for hours for pennies.

Jeff is always reminding me to charge what what I'm worth by saying - "Pay peanuts, get monkeys". I'm not a monkey anymore!

Miniature Art by Karen Hull said...

You are so right Cindy and I think I will do just as you say. I am really loving the job I'm working on now, so hopefully this will lead to more happy jobs. Thank you for your wise words!!!! :)

Artoholic said...

Well, I wouldn't say "Wise", more "burnt too many times". Taught again yesterday and I'm feeling decidedly char-grilled!