Hee-ang Kim, a very talented polymer clay artist focuses on mushrooms as a motif and creates a series of works influenced by them. Hee-ang’s experience includes teaching as a lecturer at college, participating in both solo and group exhibitions.
We are very grateful that she prepared an article for the Society readers about her private inner life as an artist, source of inspiration, dealing with anxiety and other topics that every one of us is standing against sometimes.
It is always nice to know there are others who know what we are going through and don't mind sharing their experience with the world. Enjoy the article!
I have been working as an artist since 2015. It cannot be said to be a very old period, but it is not very short. As a freelancer, I have to do all of the work I have done by myself in a large company, such as promotion, design, and branding, in order to sell my work or product. I have a lot of work to do, so it's slow, but at the same time I've been doing other things for a while.
I lectured as a teacher, wrote as a writer, and designed as a designer.
Working alone has distinct advantages and disadvantages. Each of these will be different, but the great thing about working alone for me is that I can decide what kind of work I want to do and how fast it goes. And the fact that I plan everything and lead my business is both an advantage and a disadvantage. Because I can do it my own way, but I don't know if the outcome will be good or bad. And the responsibility is entirely mine. The downside is that the income is not constant. That's an anxious factor.
Living every day is like a wave, so sometimes good things come and bad things come. A good thing becomes a bad thing, and a bad thing turns into a good thing.
Freelancer is like a job where you need to know how to ride and enjoy this wave of anxiety like a surfer. I think I've been doing well for about six years. Whether it's unfortunate or fortunate, it's hard to say that a particular time was difficult because my memory wasn't so good. However, because I am a person, I periodically feel ‘anxiety.’ Sometimes I ask myself. 'Am I living my life well? Or what will happen to my retirement in the future?” Anxiety about the “future” engulfs my mind.
Most of the time, when such anxiety engulfs my head, all I have to do is move my body. It's best to move my body to distract my thoughts. Or go to sleep. When I wake up after a good night's sleep, my anxiety is already gone. And thinking of the future too far is not good for my own mental health. This is a cheat key that I have gained from working as an artist over the past six years. Life without long-term plans may not look good to someone. But, at least for me, it was very stressful to face the uncertain future itself.
There was a time when the fountain of my creation felt like stagnant water. I was bored myself because I couldn't get new water in. It was a time when it was difficult to make
something new and my hands couldn't move.
In that case, my head knows I have to force my hand to move, and sometimes it works. But there were times when everything was out of hand. Burnout seemed to have come from an unclear anxiety. I decided not to do anything to rest while I fell down.
I was curious about the lives of others. In particular, I was very curious about the stories of people living with the same job as me. I wanted to know if they were anxious like me or if it was just me.
I searched for a book about an artist, and then came across this book
called 'Daily Ritual’ by Mason Currey.
This book is a collection of daily life of creators in various fields. Excerpts from what the artist himself said, stories told through the mouths of third parties, and remaining records. It is a collection of “Daily Rituals” from creators in all fields, including music, writing, painting, and photography. It was interesting from the table of contents of the book. There are some artists who are spontaneous, and some have a job separate from creation. The working hours are jagged, and there are some artists who are very regular like a knife. As I read, I think about which artist and my life pattern are most similar. This is also an interesting thing reading this book.
My favorite chapter is the part called 'farewell to the shortcut called inspiration'. (I hope you understand that the table of contents may be different from the translated book and the original book.)
Often, people think that “inspiration” suddenly comes to the artists and they will write it out and create. There will certainly be artists who create in that way. If there are 1,000 people, there will be 1,000 methods. However, in my case, ‘inspiration’ is not something I can just wait for. If so, I wouldn't be able to work as a full-time artist. This table of contents is also an interesting part of reading because it most closely resembles the way I think of the creation.
The creators appearing in this chapter are artists who choose a method of consistently setting the minimum amount of time or amount per day without waiting for inspiration. They are diligent and sincere. In my case, the time to go to work in the studio isn't early, but I try to do work-related things at least a few hours a day. Before reading this book, this thought itself was stressful. I was compelled to go to the studio and at least do something even in very little time. If I didn't do that, I felt uneasy and uncomfortable without doing anything. However, as I read this book, I could accept that this is my way, and this is my daily ritual. I was a creator with a tendency to feel comfortable when I do anything related to my work. Whether it's a good result or not, I have to do something consistently so that I feel safe.
As I read this book, I felt an unknown sense of relief. In particular, I did this while reading an article describing the life of an artist who has a similar life pattern to me.
No matter how famous artists are, the way people live is the same, and that they have working hours and daily routines that suit each person. I realized that I was not living wrong,
and that my life is a continuation of my own 'ritual'.
Still, sometimes when my anxiety rises, I open this book at random and start reading it. Like a lullaby to sleep a baby, patting my weakened heart to calm anxiety. If I ‘ventilate’ myself, I feel better. The anxious time is brief and time passes. It will be fine soon.
If there is someone who is currently staying on the stage of emotion that I have been through, I would recommend this book to that person. Especially, if you work alone for a long time, many thoughts cause anxiety, and I think that is not good in the long run. In that case, it is recommended to take a break while reading this book. I believe it will be better to think less about the future and start doing things right before your eyes. I want to spend many days creating with a healthy mindset. I will finish this article by reading this book again and repeating my own 'ritual'.