I never thought it would come to this.

Posted by Dave Conrey on

What would you say if I told you that history is repeating itself as I write this?

And no, this has nothing to do with American politics. In fact, this is about my own personal story, and maybe it's relatable to you as well. 

For the better part of 15 years, I've been on a serious creative journey. Even though I've moved significantly forward during that time, I can't help but notice how the scenery seems very similar. Please indulge me as I present a truncated history.

  • 2006: Feeling creatively stagnant in my day job as a magazine art director, I started painting. Someone introduced me to blogging, and I started writing about my experience. My long, daily commute caused me to spend more time way from home, but because magazine publishing is a feast or famine situation, I wasn't always working at the office.
  • 2007: Because I was away from home so much, and too tired to paint when I got home, I decided to start making digital art collage. After a few designs were made, I started an Etsy shop.
  • 2007-2010: I was making things, selling things, but not big money. It was a hobby that took up part of my time. I also started selling my work at local events. Along with my blog, I also had a podcast that was gaining some attention. People at the shows started to recognize me.
  • 2011-2012: Burned out from the digital work, I started painting more, but again as a hobby. My podcast was my passion at the time because I got to talk to some really interesting people, and got recognized anytime I went to a creative event. People were coming to me for advice for creative inspiration.
  • 2013-2015: I doubled down on my writing and broadcasting. As much as I enjoyed making things, what really gave me a buzz was hearing people tell me how much I've helped them get back to their creative work.
  • 2015: I had a crisis of conscience because I was trying to tell people how to better sell their art, but I wasn't making it myself. I started making art again, and suddenly I was having more fun making art than talking about making art. In an act of personal defiance, I burned everything I had made to the ground and started from scratch. This will become a habit.
  • 2016-2017: I go into a veritable death spiral, starting things and ditching them. I was chasing every single creative impulse I could, but not executing fully. My social media followings were flat if not diminishing, mostly because people didn't know what to think of me anymore.
  • 2018: Because of a museum show featuring Jasper Johns, I had a creative epiphany. I started making art in a vastly different way, and it felt good again. So good that I started talking about it more.
  • 2019: Tired of all my old social media outlets, I jumped into TikTok and found a tribe of people that were unlike anything I had come across before. These people weren't professional artists or designers, but people that aspired to create but never had the motivation...until they saw me. The feedback created a spark and I took advantage of that opportunity.
  • 2020: Despite totally calamity around the world, my floundering YouTube channel suddenly found a groove, and a couple videos became fairly popular. Nothing ridiculous, but enough to get that channel back into forward momentum. Again, people were loving my work, and it had less to do with the actual art, and more about how I showed up.
I may be dumb at times, but I'm no fool. I see what's happening here now. Though it took several years, and many missteps, I'm paying close attention to what the universe is trying to tell me. I need to keep sharing, keep inspiring, and sharing stories.

This time, instead of sacrificing all the work that I've done previously, I'm more in tune with how my art plays a part in the storytelling. Although I will still make art for myself, I'm also thinking about how I can make and share things that can help others. I've talked about having courses, but this goes a bit beyond that, and into more tangible items. I'm not going to reveal too much right now, but I can tell you that it's more than just a mug that says Do The Work.

Expect new things to come in drips, but they will come. In the meantime, if you want to spend some hands-on time watching me make things, I'm now going to spend some quality time over on my reinvigorated Twitch channel.Maybe you can be in your studio space while I'm in mine, and we can make work together. 
On that note, I need to prep the studio space. In the meantime, can you do me a favor? Share this with someone who might enjoy it. Thanks!

Until next time,