I awoke just before 7:00am, and arrived at my studio near 8:00am with my breakfast in hand: a pear, an apple, and a large cup of coffee. Part of the reason why I got up so early was that I had to pee, and when I woke up to do so, I found that I couldn't get back to sleep. Nonetheless, I got my 7 hours (of sleep) in. I stayed home last night, which seems to be the trend of late, watching a National Geographic documentary about stress. I have been incredibly stressed recently, but the intention of my post is not to write about that. I chose to mention it because I, in fact, fell asleep about 10 minutes into the program and then woke up again about an hour later. How funny that a program about stress actually alleviated some of my own.
I admire people who have the endurance to work an endless number of hours, to commit most of their lives to work, and to perform it all in such a collected way; maybe there is sweat, perhaps tears, and yes, even a bit of blood, but I don't envy them at all - at least not anymore.
When I moved to New York over five years ago, the primary purpose was to grow my career; and I use the word primary instead of sole intention because my secondary catalyst was that I was running away from a relationship that ended in Toronto.
When I arrived here it was everything I dreamed that it would be. I lived in Hell's Kitchen then, and I remember waking up many times as early as I did this morning, and walking down Ninth Avenue, slicing through the heat and stink of the Port Authority, and glimpsing into the rituals of the men who prepared and pushed their food carts along invisible trails to whichever locations they were destined to go to that morning, on the way to my studio.
And it was good.
As the months passed, I supported my work with other work related lunches, industry events, shop talk, and all the stuff related to illustration.
And it was good.
And I traveled to the studio almost every day, and devoted most of my time to my commercial assignments; on weekdays and on weekends at the studio, morning until night, and sometimes brought work home.
And still, it was good.
But as I continued to focus my line of sight only on one industry, never venturing outside of it, I began to feel overwhelmed and anxious. I had invested everything into my work, from my second year of art college onwards. I had followed the rules laid for out for me and my classmates, and had done everything that I thought that I was supposed to do in order to reach those marks in my career that I had set for myself. And although it still felt good, the emotional return that I received from it began to diminish. That's not to suggest that I stopped enjoying what I was doing i.e. illustration, nor should it imply that I wanted to distance myself from the illustration community, either. All that happened was that my goals began to shift, and I came to question the kind of illustrator who I wanted to be.