It's been a while since I've been actively online.
But even though temporary, it did changed my perspective on some matters.
It's weird how much the internet can become an influence, and how this process goes so unnoticed. At a certain point the countless voices of people around you blend into a continuous buzz. A buzz that you soon get so familiar with that you forget there was a life before it. I guess that's what social media does in general; creating a buzz. An artificial need for you to continuously be online and check your messages, because you might just miss something otherwise. Life, in general, has become so infused with the internet that it sometimes scares me. I'm part of the internet industry. Hell, I even made it my job! But even I sometimes find myself wondering where the time has gone that I could work on an artwork for hours straight, without feeling that creeping itch to check my messages.
The last few weeks before the break, I've repeatedly felt bad about myself. Why? Basically because people told me I didn't meet their expectations, and I just happen to be a person that hates to fail expectations.
As a kid, I was happy to be creative. Even though I only made drawings for fun, making art was a nice way to spend time and it genuinely felt good to be always full of ideas. As I saw most of my classmates lose their childlike imagination as they grew older and their interests shifted, I used to take pride in the fact that such a thing never happened to me. As most of my classmates submitted to peer pressure, I still followed the voice from within. And until not too long ago, I thought that that was what being an artist was all about.
As of lately, I've gotten quite a view what is the art world is actually about. About the constant struggle from many people that all try their hardest to get one of the few jobs in art and the hostility that comes with that competition. How art school students, that are supposed to be taught to be open-minded and accepting towards all kinds of art, are often the ones that pass the strongest judgement. About that you don't mean shit as an artist, unless you have the job to prove that you have skills. And how hobbyist artists are regarded as inferior because they simply don't earn money and haven't got a thing to prove.
Money. That's what it all about. Living on myself, I can honestly understand that, because having a career is important. As a web developer with 10 years of experience in the industry I'm the least person to tell you that there's no difference between "just messing around with html" and working in the industry. However, hobbyist or professional... we do have something in common. We both love websites. We share our love for the same thing. And that's something so important I cannot stretch it enough.
What this whole thing comes down to?
That many of the people I look up to and I'd love to learn from (often those with professional-level artwork) belong to the above group -- something that isn't exactly motivating. And as we are all influenced by the people around us it's hard to make art my way and follow my own feelings and instincts, when the internet collective tells me that I'm doing it wrong and that I should feel ashamed I put my talent to waste. (For those wondering; that was literally said to me.)
The strength of the internet --that everybody can say what he wants-- has also come to be one of it's major downsides. Downsides that even drove many famous artists to the brink of depression.
It's hard to maintain a sense of "self" within the buzz of people continuously talking about you, your works, your characters, and what you could (or should) represent. I think anyone even remotely known on any place on the internet can confirm that with me. It's even harder when you're an artist and you need this sense of "self" in order to create. Because let's be honest; for most of us our vision of life is the sole reason we create. Or at least for me it is.
My health has slowly gotten stable over the last few weeks. I've seen some doctors, got a new medicine for the migraine attacks, and whatnot. I've been back to training fully again, which I guess kinda helps since the RSI-specific training also strengthens the muscles in my neck. I'm still waiting for the checkup at the hospital, though (Those waiting lists... seriously...). Some days are good, and I try to enjoy them as much as I can. Some days are terrible. I'm still tired pretty often. but it seemed to have stabilized a bit. I think a large part of the tiredness came from trying to force myself to keep up with everything, even while in miserable physical condition. And in that regard, I think taking my distance really helped. I realize now that I can't keep up and that it's not a shame to admit so.
I guess strict moderation is the answer in this case. The answer for shutting myself off from too much negativity. If people in real life talk shit about me, I'm not afraid to tell them to shut the hell up. So why shouldn't I be able to do the same online (by removing and blocking)? It's not like people that deliberately try hurt others have the right to complain about that.
To conclude this (already too long) message I would like to show my thanks to the massive support that I've gained from the DeviantArt community during my break. It's heartwarming to see how many people out here actually bothered to show their support. Either via e-mail, Facebook, or via DeviantArt's private message system. Not people that I know in person, but also people that are complete strangers to me and just happened to learn about my hiatus. Thank you. Thanks a lot!
(Here are some of the kind messages that people send me (and I've already read -- there are still many more).
At this moment, I still have 17.376 messages to catch up to (artworks excluded), from which 7500+ new messages and even more replies to... whatever stuff I made.
I still have to read the replies to my last journal to find out who the winner is from the previously announced "contest".
There are a lot of things going for me at the moment;
Animecon is coming up soon. I'm currently in negotiation with Mangaschool about their schedules, but if everything goes right I might return doing a workshop there... or at least be at the manga-drawing stand there. Which will give you, Dutchies, a chance to say hello and make me help you out with your art.
(for those that were curious about the previous workshop, check the link behind the artwork above)
What also might be interesting, is my upcoming kiriban of 1.000.000 pageviews. I'm still doubting about the prize. It's gonna be either points or a head-shot drawing of your character. The choice is up to you. Whichever gets the most votes will do.
Uploading artwork might still take a while. I have a whole lot of sorting out to do. And as weird as it sounds; I still feel a bit insecure about publishing stuff online again and exposing it to an audience that is even more massive than the day I left. I guess it'll take a bit of time until that feeling is entirely gone. And even aside from that; I've got a lot of sketches and stuff to sort out.
Having learned from previous experience, I'm taking my time to catch up.
So it might take a while before I'm fully operational again. In the meanwhile; please bear with me.
~ See you around!
TLDR version; I'm back