Sunday, 17 April 2016

Personal Post: Artistic Journey

I usually don't like writing personal posts, because they can seem uninteresting, and unhelpful to those who actually read my blog, but I thought I'd take a look back. I just spent hours looking through my old portfolio and reminisced about the time when art was my life. I know I still talk about my passion for art, but every since I was a little girl up until a couple of years ago, I would spend all my free time creating. It started out as little sketches I would do when I was bored, into something a lot bigger. I learned and taught myself so much, and I was so excited to turn something I loved into a career. While looking through my old art pieces, I remembered the roller coster of a journey I was on during the whole process. I think it's a pretty interesting story, so I thought I'd share. Writing about the past is something I love doing, I really enjoy getting to relive my experiences so I can remember how it's evolved me into the woman I am today.

I was artistic for as long as I can remember. When I was a little girl, I was always drawing. I was always called an artist by my family, even though I know my drawings sucked. Of course they did, I was only a toddler. I was happiest when my parents brought my sister and I out to do creative activities. There was a place called the Clay Room on the Danforth, I don't know if it's there anymore, but it's basically a place where you pick out a clay object, and paint it. They had little ballerina boxes, clay figurines, all that jazz. I think I remember my visits to this place so vividly because it's what started my love for painting.

Every little girl needs a ballerina box. This is me painting myself one at the Clay Room.

I think I was 10 when my parents got me an easel for my birthday. I unfortunately don't have a picture of it, but it looked something like this. I didn't know I wanted it at the time, but once I got it, my easel was the best thing I could have gotten as a present. Along with the easel, I got a whole set of paints, paint brushes, a huge sketchbook that was safe for acrylic paint, and a book teaching the basics. I remember the easel being in my room, beside my bed, and across from my TV. I painted while watching Lizzie McGuire or listening to the CD's my dad used to burn me. I also remember this being the first time I sat down to really teach myself something. I read that book, and always had it open when I was painting. I learned about all the different strokes, colours, brushes, absolutely everything.  I'm surprised I was able to teach myself a lot about acrylic paint, I have always had a very short attention span. I don't know how I didn't get frustrated learning all these new techniques on my own. I also had a crazy number of sketch books, and would always be drawing in them. My favourite thing to draw was really badass looking women.

My drawings and paintings continued all throughout elementary school, but it's when I went to high school that things became more serious. I started getting interested in all things art. I continued to paint, but turned to YouTube to learn about watercolour. Knowing I wanted to get into photography, my parents bought me my first DSLR camera for Christmas in 2010. It was a Canon T2i. Admittedly, I did not know how to use it. My mom and I would always talk about signing me up for photography classes, but for some reason it never really worked out. At the time, my camera was my most prized possession. Even though I didn't know how to work the thing, I brought it everywhere. I used to bring it to Ireland all the time, the beautiful scenery made it easy to take nice photos. Luckily, I have an uncle who is also really into photography, so he taught me how to use it a bit.

Photography Club 2013
In grade 11, I took a class called Communications Technology. I had no idea how much this would change my life. I was exposed to all kinds of creative outlets. I found a passion for graphic design, film, animation, and even more photography. I absolutely loved cinematography, and I loved created beautiful images using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. My teacher had such a huge impact on me, and opened my eyes to so much more. He taught me about simplicity, and how to properly use a camera. I specifically remember him lecturing me, saying to never keep it on Auto mode. It was this class that made me decide I wanted to be a graphic designer. This was also around the time I was diagnosed with anxiety. Art became therapy. On bad nights, I'd listen to music and draw or paint whatever came to mind. I was also preparing for my portfolio which I new I needed for art school. 

In grade 12, I was very involved with my school. I took Communications Technology again, and was also on the Yearbook committee as a designer, in photography club, and working backstage for a theatre competition the drama department was having. At the same time, I was working on my portfolio. This is when my anxiety was at it's worst, so stress just drove me crazy. Not only did I need graphics, but I needed paintings, advertisements, sketches, basically everything you can think of. I was up crying while painting for the specific pieces I needed for my portfolio, and art just wasn't fun for me anymore. Even though I was stressed, I felt lucky that I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life at such a young age, when my friends had no idea what they really wanted to go to school for. One exciting thing I did, was create my first "commission" piece. I put commission in quotations because it wasn't paid, it was more of a favour. It was the poster for the show I was helping back stage for (see below). It was something I was extremely proud of, and it's something I keep in my portfolio to this day.

My Communications Technology teacher chose me to compete in Skills Canada. If you don't know, Skills Canada is a competition for students to compete in different art categories. A lot of students went, some for animation, some for film, I went to compete for graphic design. I was terrified, since I was the only student who went that was working by themselves. We were called Team iOS- "Institute of Swag". It was a funny inside joke our class had. I was so excited for the opportunity. While competing, I had a panic attack. How convenient, right? I was crying, and my teacher told me to just do my best, and not to worry about the outcome. I definitely don't think I was prepared for a competition, considering my anxiety levels at the time. Despite the panic attack, it was a really fun day. 

Left: My first "commission" piece. Right: Team iOS the day of Skills Canada
Ironically, the portfolio review for the school I wanted to go to was the next day, in the same building. If you have panic disorder you might know that going to a place you once had a panic attack causes sever anxiety, and usually another panic attack (don't ask why, our brains are tricky). Nervous is an understatement. I was terrified. I walked into the room with my tea and portfolio, ready to be evaluated on my art work. Three very scary people came in and said there was an assessment we had to do while they looked through our portfolios. I handed mine in and picked up the assessment. It was basically to test the knowledge that we had on graphic design, then we had to draw our hand, holding our eraser. I was surprised to see my drawing coming out very realistic, and how simple that test was. After a couple of hours, they handed back our portfolio's and I left feeling confident. You can imagine the excitement when I got the email saying I was accepted into the program. The summer before school was amazing. I was anxiety free for months, and I was excited to start.

I didn't know what to expect on the first day. I was 17 years old, stepping into college for the first time. I was doing really well in school, but after a couple of months, I just couldn't stand it anymore. My anxiety rocketed. After having panic attack after panic attack in between classes, I told my mom I hated art and that I needed to drop out. She was confused, "but love art". I was in denial. I convinced myself that I hated art, despite doing it my whole life. In reality, I wasn't mentally ready for school. That might sound stupid, but I wasn't. If I were in graphic design now, I know I'd love it, I was just going through a really hard time. I dropped out of all my courses, except for my drawing one. I kept that because I thought I was going to switch into game design, I needed drawing and I thought I'd might as well transfer that credit. I was in school once a week, and still feeling horrible. After that semester was over, I still wasn't ready to go back full time. My mental health was at it's worst. I got so depressed that I threw out all of my paintings. Please, never do this. Even if you're angry and you feel as if you don't care, you might in the future. I'm so upset I threw out all of my canvases. I wish I still had them. I worked so hard on those paintings, and just because I blamed my anxiety on art school, I lost all of it. 

We all know what happens next, I've mentioned it so many times. If you don't, read my mental illness journey here.

So after all that horrible stuff happened, 2 years later I'm in a Public Relations program, which I'm happy to be in. Turns out, I still love art. It's still a huge passion of mine. I was just at the right place at the wrong time. I miss graphic design so much. I don't regret anything though, I love my program, and I've met amazing people. Plus, I'll be graduating when I'm 23 years old, I will still be so young. There's no such thing as too much education, so I plan on doing a post grad in graphic design or film studies.

As for now, I don't need a certificate to consider myself an artist. I do a lot of work for friends. I make graphics for others blogs, podcasts, posters, anything. I even designed my whole blog by myself, and create all of my graphics. If you'd like me to make a graphic for you, you can find my contact information here. I'm still very active with Photoshop, Illustrator, and photography. I want to find more time to draw and paint again, but unfortunately I'm always drowning in school work. I continue to add to my portfolio, by all the graphics I make for myself, and friends!

I didn't anticipate this post being so long. Thanks for sticking around to read the whole thing if you did. I hope you found my story interesting, and took something from it. Don't let anything or anyone stop you from doing what you love. Thanks for reading,


  1. I think that's a really important thing - you ARE an artist and you don't need a degree to tell you that. You're amazing :)


  2. I like your blog, its really dope.
    Do you want to follow each other?
    If you want, than follow me, and let me know in comments, so I can follow you back with pleasure.
    We can follow each other on Instagram @andjela.dujovic, let me know in the comments so I can follow you back.

  3. Oh wow, I felt so bad for you when you said you through out all of your old artwork - how sad. Thankfully, you have many, many years ahead of you ready for new creations :) All the best continuing your artistic journey Megan!

    Gabrielle | A Glass Of Ice

    1. Depression can definitely make you do some crazy things! Thanks so much Gabrielle! xx

  4. This is such a thought provoking post. It must have been awful going through that but it seems like you've come out the other end stronger and happier. xx

  5. A lot of people hold certificates but it doesn't necessarily mean they're competent. Not saying this for everything of course but at the end of the day a certificate shouldn't be used as a measurement for value. Your still so young as well, I say take everything one step at a time.

    Sally - DiagonSally