This is the quote I wrote on the card I handed my creative directors when I resigned from my position as an art director to become an illustrator in 2004. It's the quote that I've had on my email signature since then. I think it's safe to say that it's also the quote that has inspired me to DO... to stay inspired and keep pushing myself into uncharted, sometimes uncomfortable territory throughout my life (quitting my steady day job, becoming an illustrator, changing my style, having a child, getting trained as a yoga teacher, studying Thai massage...). It reminds me that I am built for taking on life's challenges and adventures... and not to linger long where I am safe and comfortable (which is way easier, yeah?).
Last week I waved back at at my safe harbor again as I raised my sails and made yet another leap. On Friday I announced my resignation from Illustration Friday... a site that I created 10 years ago (!) and have been running ever since. Illustration Friday was one of the first of its kind -- a site designed to be an online community for artists, illustrators and doodlers from around the globe, inviting people to participate in a weekly creative challenge. When I created it, I didn't anticipate it becoming anything big, but it grew in the most beautiful, organic way into something vast -- over 17,000 strong! It's unbelievable to me, even as I watched it happen.
It's inspired me so much over the years to see people post their artwork each week. I've gotten to know a lot of great illustrators and creative folks who've helped shape my own work and helped me push my style. I am forever grateful for that. And for being in the awesome position to hold the space for such a large, positive group. I ran support, posted weekly newsletters, interviewed professional artists and became the channel for relevant art news for the community. It was all so fun and taught me so much!
But over the last year, I started to feel the tug to move on. With Veda turning 4 and starting school in a year and a half, I felt my time with her was becoming supremely precious and I wanted to make space to soak it up as much as possible. She was, and always will be, my first priority. And I wanted my time spent to reflect that.
The tug was also spurred by a little nagging voice in my head gently whispering to me that I should start to reclaim my analog life. Close the laptop screen... put down the iphone... unplug from the digital world in order to dig in the dirt, pick up my paintbrush, build something with my hands. I'm not sure where this is leading exactly yet, but it just feels right.
For a while when I would hear that subtle whisper, I felt physical fear about letting IF go. With so much community, life and work now being held online, I wondered if it was irresponsible to let such a large virtual asset go. Would I fall into some inescapable unknown abyss of nothingness if I didn't have IF to validate me? That felt so real. It felt like IF was my security blanket, my ace in the hole, and I was haphazardly ripping it off and throwing it into the fire.
But then I thought more... and realized if I continue to just follow my heart and passion, something good always happens. It's often not what I expect, and it's my challenge to stay open to what will be. Possibility. That's what finally convinced me I was doing the right thing. The possibility of starting something new. Of clearing a space for different opportunities to come to me. Or not. The possibility of space, period.
Space to be fully present with Veda. And my husband. And my new homemaking dreams (more on that later if I ever start writing in this space regularly again). And to studying Thai massage. And gardening. To being present with what is.
I toyed with the idea of shutting IF down completely. But in the best timing, Thomas James of Illustration Age emailed me asking about a partnership of ads with Illustration Friday. And I knew Thomas from his other site Escape from Illustration Island and knew that he was also very passionate about illustration and supporting the online art community. And he did it beautifully and steadily. So I nervously pitched him the idea of thinking even bigger than ads... And I asked him about taking over Illustration Friday. And serendipity was on my side, because he was happy to consider. He responded right away with a yes - he was wanting to make his career go in the direction of online community management (the opposite of me! How funny!) - and we got to planning and making it happen.
I feel like I'm leaving Illustration Friday in excellent hands. I know Thomas will do a wonderful job with "my baby" and that he will run the site in the spirit that I built it. I'm excited to see the site flourish under his care.
And I know I'm doing right by me and my family and whatever else is coming my way.
My ship is, once again, heading out of the harbor to vast open seas. I'm excited to see where I'm going.