Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Leaving London | Holly Exley Illustration

I can quite honestly say, and with every intention of sounding clich├ęd, this year has been an absolute roller-coaster. Fundamentally a ride of downward motions, all lurching stomachs and white, gripping knuckles.

I've been a waitress, living at home, I've been an intern, living out of boxes. I've been another intern (and another and another), living off benefits. I've been an unhappy house-mate, and then a new house-mate, in a happier place. I've been unemployed, firing CV's at HR departments. And, briefly, I was employed, working in social media.

Phew.

But the ride has now spun a different loop, and I've been left with part time social media work, no boyfriend and the prospect of putting this year behind me. This sounds like the beginning of a film doesn't it? Staring Jennifer Aniston, pictured packing her life into boxes, dressed in denim dungarees (I imagine) and making huge life choices whilst maintaining her glorious hair.


Well, as corny as it sounds, I am going to have to do that (minus the hair - which is a bleached mess). I've reached a point where the only thing driving me forward is the desire to be happy. But choosing to do this can be scary can't it? 

I had a phone call with my mum before Christmas. It was strange, but I was really nervous of admitting what I really wanted, which is of course to be an illustrator/artist. I felt that she would sigh and say, "but Holly, haven't you given it your best shot? Don't you think you should knuckle down and get a stable job?" I think this country is on my side here, because there are very few 'normal' jobs that a graduate can get. It's not enough to have good Maths and English skills, and know your way around a computer, you need years of experience, or to be recommended or work for free. I've done my fair share of interning, and I've had enough.

With no "normal" jobs at my disposal, my dream shines brighter. Can I really do this?

Of course my mum was very supportive, and with her advice on board I've decided to leave London (it was doing me no favours) and go back to Bristol, to live with my mum in her garden flat. I will still be a social media executive part time, and pick up other part time work when I need it, but my focus now is on my work, and how I can make a living from it.

As it has been in the past, I feel this blog will be my saviour. Every time I write out my frustrations and my worries, the response is always so wonderful, from other young artists and people that I admire, that it's almost like being given a little nudge back on course. Feeling a part of this on-line network of artists is so important for me, and I assume it will become more so, as I make my leap of faith.

Will you be with me?!

Prepare for many more ups and downs, many more industry related moans, lots of progression and new work and - hopefully - some good news thrown in. Here goes!

22 comments:

  1. Always inspirational posts.. glad i'm not the only one feeling like this. Good luck for 2012, Holly- we can do this!! :)

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  2. I hope 2012 will be the best year for you Holly!
    Good luck with your moving, I love your blog and I can't wait to read your new posts :)

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  3. you are a WONDERFUL artist, I love your pieces so much and they are always so well turned out. I think you're gonna be JUST FINE! :) xx

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  4. I'm with you! Fingers crossed for 2012 for you and me both. Let's not just see what happens...let's make it happen! :0)

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  5. So glad to hear this! Persuit of happiness is always worthwhile! You've inspired me to sit down today and have a think about what I really want next year too. We may be moving overseas for my boyfriend's work, somewhere where I'm unlikely to find work, where we don't know anyone. So I need a plan I think.

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  6. You're pretty!

    Also!...I feel your fears of being an illustrator and I have no doubt you will do amazing with your fantastic work. If you ever fancy seeing some of my work or reading some of my (very similar :) ) worries then please look on my blog: http://inkfingers13.blogspot.com/

    Don't give up! You can do it!

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  7. Sounds like a pretty hectic year... This time last year I couldn't wait for 2010 to be over - adjusting to life after graduation, working full-time in a job I found unfulfilling and badly paid, had hardly done any artwork, and broke up with my boyfriend of 8 years, and moved in with my parents. Being able to put all of that behind me and get going with my illustration work has meant 2011 has been one of my best years yet! If you continue all of your hard work I'm sure you will find things will fall into place. Working part-time and living with your mum will mean you'll have way more time, and money, to really focus on your illustration. Sounds like you are on the right tracks and I look forward to seeing your progress!

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  8. HI Holly, I just found your blog tonight and have enjoyed reading your posts. good luck with your move, I live in Bristol, its a great place to be. I'm a fine art graduate who would love to be an artist/illustrator full time. I do what I can part time but my living money comes from a steady full time job. Good luck and happy new year!

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  9. Hi Holly, just found your post randomly through the realms of twitter and thought I could share a few thoughts as a fellow designer...

    I found that not being in London and growing my own 'practice' of design for some time led me to get a full time and really rewarding job. No longer (because of this crazy place) does location matter. In fact some people probably do a lot better not being so London centric.

    I found this blog post a while back and it really transformed my thinking of the idea of being a creative person:
    http://www.austinkleon.com/2011/03/30/how-to-steal-like-an-artist-and-9-other-things-nobody-told-me/

    I am not a designer in your realm (I'm in architectural lighting), but if I could pass on 2 bits of advice (from the memory of being in your position) if would be:
    1) Find a niche and grow it (it might take years)
    2) you don't have to show all your work to everyone, you may earn mega bucks doing bespoke handmade wedding invites (my friend does) whilst being super duper creative without anyone knowing! I know a lot of companies who seem really amazing on the outside, but on the inside its a different story....

    Hope it helps!

    Good Luck

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  10. Good Luck Holly, keep going babs.

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  11. Reading this post was like reading someone else's account of my life, it's reassuring to know that other people are going through the same thing. I live in a house in London with girls who are both in their dream jobs. Neither of them have ever interned, I've been an intern for almost a year, so the whole thing makes me feel like it's kind of hopeless. I do have days where I don't know what keeps me in London, but I'm one of those irritating 'chase your dreams' people. London is a hard place to live, it takes over your whole life and I think it's important not to let it wear you down.

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  12. PS, Would you like to do an art swap? :P I understand your busy so don't worry if you can't.

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  13. I just found your site and I'm really glad I have. I've been in the same kind of rut, unemployed, interning and just figuring my life out. I feel like I have someone to relate to on the other side of the world. I hope all goes well with you and your art.

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  14. Good! This is the way forward. This attitude is great, even if moving back with one's parents' might seem like a step back, I think overall it will pay off.

    What do you exactly do as a social media executive? Tweet and blog? Just curious.

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  15. Hi Zyzanna, Thank you for your comment. I do indeed tweet and blog- and devise strategy for brands. It's fun!

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  16. Thank you Edi for your lovely comments on my blog - hopefully this next year will be better for both of us - I hope so!

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  17. Thanks Sophie, for reading my blog post. I completely understand how it is to be the only one interning - I have a lot of successful friends, and it's hard being the only one still struggling. At least we know what we're aiming for though - I am certain hard work and persistence pays off. Good luck in the new year :)

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  18. Rebekah, Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment on my blog. I hope you've found it helpful. Full time work is a big challenge, but I hope you still find time to be creative, and wish you good luck for the new year :)

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  19. Fiona, Thank you so much for your feedback. Very encouraging indeed! I'm happy to hear you've had a great year after going through similar circumstances - makes me feel hopeful. I'm sure 2012 will be even better for you :)

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  20. Emma, thankyou for all your encouragement, and for taking the time to read and comment. Means a lot! All the best for 2012 :)

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  21. Rebecca, Laura, Yvie, Faye and Jessica (phew!) Thank you SO much for your kind words - and for taking the time to read my ramblings. Happy New Year to you all :)

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  22. How exciting for you! I wish you the very best of luck on your new path, new beginnings are always fantastic!

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