Throwing Off the Fear Cloak

The above painting is an old favorite of mine. It’s titled “Forbidden Knowledge”. I’ve already written about this painting and the process behind it before in a previous post – so fear not, this post is about something entirely new! I’m taking a new tack here and writing a very personal (personal for me, at least) post.

Over the past few months, I’ve gone through some interesting transitions as an artist and illustrator and plain old human being. First things first, I got married in fairytale-esque wedding to the coolest lady ever. Huge thanks to friends and family for celebrating this with us!

Photography by Jaclyn Szabo

Secondly, I left a very stable freelance gig that kept me constantly employed for just over 1.5 years. Crazy, I know! I leave the details of this event to my NDA agreement, but it will suffice to say that my life is very different now that I am no longer employed full time. There is a wide open expanse in front of me – and it is terrifying.

I have been toying with the idea of starting a Patreon page for my own work and I have to say that I am pretty scared of this step. As so many others have concluded, I have found that the old paradigm of “post your work on social media and become successful” no longer makes much sense in the current climate. Changes in algorithms on Facebook, Instagram and other popular platforms have created a real wall for individual creators. Although video seems to be the next big thing for internet media in general, its limited reach does not justify the labor that goes into editing and producing.

So, today I created my Patreon account – and in the spirit of this platform, I decided to support an artist I know and respect with a monthly payment tier that connects to my credit card. Unconsciously, I have been hiding from Patreon. Whenever other artists post on social media about their Patreons, I typically avoid checking them out. I’ve been afraid of this platform, and I think I now know why.

The answer came to me in the form of a book: “The Art of Asking” by Amanda Palmer. Many artists have recommended this book to me and I finally read it earlier this year. I won’t try to summarize the book here, but it’s premise is simple. Palmer writes about the difference between begging and asking. I finally realized that I’ve always been afraid of Patreon because I’m afraid of looking like I am begging.

“Asking for help with shame says:
You have the power over me.
Asking with condescension says:
I have the power over you.
But asking for help with gratitude says:
We have the power to help each other.

The above quote from Palmer’s book summarizes it perfectly. Many, many artists (myself included) put a cloud of shame around the activity of asking others for help, and they do so unnecessarily. I still struggle with this cloud. The above quote from Palmer’s book summarizes it perfectly. Many artists (myself included) put a cloak of fear and shame around the activity of asking others for help, and they do so unnecessarily. I still struggle with this cloak. Without the all consuming work of my previous freelance gig to distract me, I can now see that the cloak is still there, hindering my ability to move forward as an artist and a creative.

I will be completely honest and say that part of my decision today to finally contribute on Patreon was due to my total lack of knowledge about the platform. Becoming a Patron just seems like the best way to learn about something in which I have zero experience in. But its also part of putting my money where my mouth is. The giving street goes two ways.

What lies beyond in the great unknown?

I posted the painting “Forbidden Knowledge” because sometimes, I just feel like the wizard in this painting. Gazing at other artists’ success via their booming Instagram feeds, glowering at the successfully funded kickstarter personal projects of others that are farther along in their artistic journey than myself, and going further and further inside a dark cloak of fear. The wizard is obsessed with knowledge, but he is afraid to leave his dark dungeon to take a risk and learn from others greater than himself. The musty tomes are more comfortable and familiar than the frightening things in the wider world outside.

Here’s to throwing off the fear cloak! Stay tuned for more to come – I plan on sending out more updates as I continue venturing out in this dangerous world of exploration and creativity!

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