For the beginning of 2020, I decided to revisit the life-changing book, (which is more like a workbook for creatives and artists), “The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I picked it up and completed the 12 weeks of tasks about seven years ago, and in hindsight, it’s really what sparked me to take my creative career more seriously. At the time, I felt very stuck, not only in my art practice, but in my life and career. After graduating college in late 2008/early 2009, right at the beginning of the market crash, it was challenging to find work, especially any creative work. Companies were making large cuts, and I found not many were hiring. For years, I took whatever job I could so that I could just start, and it meant that in order to pay rent, I automatically went into a mode where I spent my time working, but not so much creating.
So it was back in late 2012 or so that I came across the book “The Artist’s Way.” At the time, I’d always been a huge fan of “Eat Pray Love”, was reading and re-reading it, and gifting it to friends and family left and right. I came across a Facebook post in which Liz Gilbert opened up about what inspired her EPL journey, and it was none other than Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way.” Of course, I went ahead and got a copy of the eBook for myself right away. And sure enough, I devoured it just the same way as EPL, and took it very seriously. As difficult as it was to maintain writing them, I diligently wrote my morning pages as soon as I woke up in the mornings. Late in 2012, I quit my job working for a sterling silver jewelry shop in downtown LA, and began freelancing full-time. I was lucky enough to be able to work remotely for my previous boss based in NYC. Owning my time and the ability to work from virtually anywhere was a huge freedom for me. It meant that I could carve out more time for my creative work and still be able to support myself. Yet, I still found myself feeling very stuck, and The Artist’s Way book could not have come at a better time.
Growing up, I never had any examples of anyone that was creative in our family. My aunt, my dad’s middle sister, was the main person I knew who was always a fine artist and creative, but it was never really a career anyone in my family, in either my mother or father’s side, pursued. Of course, much like most Asian and especially Filipino families growing up, our parents and families encouraged us to pursue what is practical. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t horrible advice, but when you’re at the impressionable age of fresh graduate, it’s something that easily is ingrained in your mindset, and the practical route, or safe route, or the route of what you should do, whatever you want to call it–takes precedence, because it’s how you’ll survive or even get a chance at winning in life (so you’re taught).
After I’d first completed the book, and even throughout my journey of reading it and completing the tasks, always doing my morning pages, and weekly artist dates, I noticed that I started developing a habit for creating, the book essentially taught me the essentials of self-care and self-love in a way I never really allowed myself to, and my world started to open up. I became more bold in my actions: I had the idea of having my own creative studio, I started poking around with graphic and web design with the help of blogs and just trial and error, much like I did with a paint brush or with sculptures in the open art studios at school. Not long after, in June of 2013, I found myself in line filing for ARTLABkma’s DBA at the county clerk. I started selling my t-shirt designs, and even took them to SF Pride to sell during the parade. My family was surprisingly supportive of all of this, and at the time, I was still freelancing full-time, yet without knowing it, really laying the foundations of my side hustle today.
In the years to come, I kept my freelance job as a way to earn extra on the side, I ended up finding full-time work for a food company that needed help managing their procurement accounts as well as a creative designer to create marketing materials. It’s where I really learned my skills in designing and got to put them to good use, learning about trade show designs, packaging, and creating brochures and slide decks. Not long after, my cousin approached me needing some design help for her growing branding agency, and about a year after that, I’d left the food company, and began full-time work as an in-house graphic designer for an engineering and consulting firm in Pasadena. I never gave up my goal of a creative career, and I almost buried ARTLABkma completely, until there was a voice that told me to relaunch it and build it from the ground up again, with more of a focus on design. This happened in late 2017 and the beginning of 2018. At that time, I discovered the world of podcasts, online classes, and tutorials, and upped my game in art, design, and the basics of business and marketing.
Flash forward to late 2019, and something in me had been telling me to pick up “The Artist’s Way” again. I thought, what a better way to start 2020 than revisiting this life-changing book. I’ll be sharing my journey and the weeks of tasks that come to follow. This past Christmas, my wife gifted me with an audible subscription for the year, and revisiting “The Artist’s Way” in audio has been refreshing. I can listen to it on my commutes, and work on the tasks on my evenings and weekends. If you haven’t yet picked up this book or given it a try, I highly recommend it, especially if you’d like to re-awaken your creative side.