I’m a creative, experienced, multi-purpose artist and art director
who can take projects start to finish in a variety of styles.

Good designs sell –
my designs sell out!

Saturday, September 7, 2013


A friend asked me, “Why do you hide your light?”  This was in a long phone conversation about other stuff, mostly about work frustrations.  He didn’t even remember asking the question, but I remembered it and reworked it over and over in my mind a thousand times in a thousand different ways.

Hiding my light is my nature and training, and even hidden it’s amazing how cruel some people can be.  They say just get over it, or the classic, “You’re just too sensitive!”  Others can say and do whatever they want and it’s my problem if my feelings get hurt.

When I graduated from college, I was booted from the happiest time of my life into a period of doubt.  Would anyone hire me?  Could I go on an interview and put pieces of my soul in front of an unknown person to critique?  My nerves landed me in the hospital with internal bleeding.

I decided that there was only one way to know for sure if I could make it, and that was to start sending out resumes and picking up the phone.  I went on interviews even if I was told there weren’t any jobs.  Practice makes perfect, and I got better at it.

I messed up an interview by missing my appointment.  I got the directions wrong and had to call and say I couldn’t get there in time.  The creative director rescheduled, but he wasn’t nice about it.  When I managed to get to the right place at the right time, he ripped my portfolio apart page by page and told me I was an amateur.  I sat white faced with hands clenched in my lap for an hour for his amusement.  I felt the internal bleeding when he finally said “You should count yourself lucky.  I see some promise.  If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have bothered to give you this much time.”  I managed to say thank you and get to my car without passing out.  Needless to say, I didn’t get the job.

Even though the guy was a bastard, he taught me a lot in that hour.  Nobody wants to see figure drawings in a portfolio.  It makes sense since you hardly ever see drawings of naked people in ads and everybody should know how to do a figure drawing by the end of college.  He wanted to see something printed, even if it was crappy so he’d be able to see that I could get a paying customer, meet deadlines, and handle printing requirements.

Sometimes I think about the famous artists who are famous because they put themselves out there – Warhol, Picasso, whoever.  If their personalities weren’t so interesting, would we care as much about their art?  It’s not to say they didn’t have good ideas and some good paintings, but in my opinion more talented and modest artists have been passed over.

Artists are often introverts, and getting work is an extraverted activity.  We can’t get work if we keep ourselves hidden.  Once we get the jobs, we can’t get promoted or raises without tooting our own horns once in a while.  I hate doing it.

In my current job, I have an officeful of people who need me to speak up for them.  However much I’d like the powers that be to just recognize we’re all wonderful, sometimes they have to be told the obvious.  I can't say that I'm a natural at that kind of thing, but as I said, practice makes perfect and at least my stomach doesn't bleed over it anymore.  Let’s all quit hiding our light and speak up for ourselves!


  1. Indeed, let's do that.

    And I'm with you in hating having to blow our own horns. The whole self promoting business feels unnatural and forced upon us. However, we have the kind of job in which we are our own artist, PR assistance, editor, manager, and financial adviser. At least with having a blog, others take part in creating positive feedback, for with I'm grateful.

    Wishing you and your beautiful owl a lovely Sunday.

  2. Oh, my, what a great post. And how true, I think, for many artists. That's great that you persisted, and finally got a job, but I think you're right about those personalities.

    I initially looked at this post because of the beautiful beautiful owl picture at the top, but you always have such great things to say.

    I don't really like tooting my own horn either, but I sure try to toot my students horns, telling them what I think they're doing great at (and there's always something). It helps a lot.

  3. Well said Linda, keep on shining. I first thought the owl was a photo....you really do keep your talents hidden, get out there and shout woman ;0) x

  4. Beautiful, soulful owl, Linda! And a subject near and dear to my heart!

    As an artist myself, self-promotion (even in a cover letter for a book proposal) is pretty excruciating! I've reached the 'mature' age of 60 now and actually know I'm pretty good at what I do, but it's amazing how quickly I can revert to feeling like a skinny thirteen-year old at my first school dance. The part that gets me about rejection (in the gut, of course) is that it doesn't matter HOW skilled and talented I have become, someone else may still have the 'power' to prevent my career (and my bank account) from growing. Maddening, isn't it? Is it any wonder that I'm drawn to spiritual teachings that say, "The world is as you dream it...you create your own reality.?"

    One day recently while moving around in a Hopeless Fog regarding this whole subject, I ran into a Buddhist acquaintance of mine who is 70 something, but very spry, peaceful and glowing. I told her I'd been wrestling with feelings of, "What's the use?" and she looked at me with genuine astonishment. "What's the use?!! she said, "But you're a Radiant Being!" That kind of put it all in perspective.

  5. Very nice comment, Susan. I enjoyed reading it.
    Linda, you have touched a true subject for us, artists.

  6. Artists are often introverts? Yeah, right.

    Very cool illustration.

  7. I'm going to work on the radiance of my radiant being :) I think colleges might be catching up to the idea that they need to train artists in business skills, but sadly that was after my time. If I had it to do again I would take business courses and public speaking. Thanks for the comments!

  8. Hear here, Linda! No one likes tooting themselves. But I find when I look at it like having a discussion about my work it comes easier. There are some asshat CDs out there full of themselves. Sometimes, as you did, you have to look past their irksome personality and hear the substance of what they're saying. Cheers!

  9. Count me in with the majority of your readers so far. Tooting my own horn is awkward. Now that I'm probably in the second half of life, I'm gradually learning to do it. We have to ask ourselves what we have to lose by doing so.

    I love your "Awsome Owl." :)

  10. Love the straight gaze of your owl, and the direct look at a struggle so many of us face. I was in the middle of a three-day hubbub at the Bologna Book fair when it finally sunk in - all these art directors, editors, everyone who takes 30 seconds (and even LESS!) to flip through my book is looking for something they can use. Now. They might take the time to tell me it's good (and not, oh yes) but they are looking for what THEY need. Speculating on whether I might be able to produce what they needed... in such a crowd of artists looking for work, they often did not need to bother. The work will find a home, where it is needed, given enough tramping, and the soul... well, peppermint tea and a sunny nook are always good.

  11. I think that's a good observation that employers are looking for what they need. They don't really care about you because you're a stranger to them. On the other hand, someone who's nasty to a stranger will probably also be nasty to an employee. It all boils down to finding the right employer I guess, and you can only do that if you keep looking and speak up for yourself!

  12. This is a post that speaks directly to me. As an artist - as well as personally - I am very much an introvert. But to become recognized or just getting jobs or assignment I need to be an extrovert - as you point out. I don't like to brag about myself, and I don't like others doing it, but sometimes you just have to do it in this line of business. I am not bad at selling myself anymore - practice makes good, as you say, but I still don't like it. And I think you are right; a lot of artists and talents are lots to the world, because they don't have the personality that makes them visible to the world. Unfortunately.

  13. I don't get my portfolio critiqued anymore. I figure I'm my worst critic anyway. And I learn things from each new job and painting. Why should I suffer more?

  14. I don't get my portfolio critiqued either. People either hire me or not, and that's based on whatever they want or want to pay. Selling myself is an ongoing process, and we all have to work on it to keep getting jobs. Good luck to everyone and thanks for the comments! (Sorry for the slow response this week. As you can see in my latest post, I was banished to Texas.)