Autumn: The Burden of Expectations

Jan 11, 2022

Inward

Autumn i

Unlike the other season, Autumn feels very fresh in my mind. Not fresh as in clear. But fresh as in recent. The Holidays are always a whirlwind. For artists and makers, this season begins in early Autumn and sometimes even late Summer. For me, it was a blur that I still haven’t fully wrapped my mind around. So I am looking forward to going inward and detangling my thoughts.

Context

Autumn, with its multiple releases, neverending shipping, in-person events, and constant creating, feels very different from the rest of the year. It is basically an all-out sprint with no breaks. Just as an example, during the winter, spring and summer I released a total of four collections. Three collections of originals and one collection of prints. This Autumn had the same number of releases and six different products. In some ways, this hustle and bustle is fun and exciting. But also almost impossible to do it alone and retain sanity. Last year I had an intern who was incredible (love you Eva!), and I could not have done it without her. So I knew I was going to need the extra help, and hired a part-time studio assistant.

There is one other thing worth mentioning that very much influenced my Autumn. I experienced incredible and sudden growth on Instagram. I had a reel get 2.7 million views and within a couple of weeks, I went from 1400 followers to over 22k. This was so crazy and exciting and intimidating. And I was beyond grateful that so many new people were interested in my work! However, this growth ended up having a different effect on my Autumn than I expected.

Challenges

As I write each of these posts, I always look back through my notes. It’s fascinating to read and helpful for remembering correcting. It’s no exception that my notes from this season were especially telling. Not through the words themselves but in the general subject matter. My journal tells the story of this crazy season. It’s packed with marketing plans, collection release strategies, product ideas, and logs for materials among other things. Lightly sprinkled in the midst of these were entries with my actual thoughts. The majority of these notes were attempts to reorient my thoughts and reframe how I was feeling – fatigued and the weight of my own expectations.

Fatigue

The summer left me feeling tired. Tired from moving, from grief, from releasing the Current Collection, and from pregnancy. And while I did my best to set a more sustainable pace for Autumn and the holidays, it wasn’t a fatigue that I was able to recover from. I always take evenings and weekends off and try to leave work at work but even with my assistant, there wasn’t really a chance to rest.

There were many days filled with delight and joy. Especially creating the ornaments. But the normal well of intrinsic motivation that comes naturally to me, had run dry. And even though nothing was neglected, it was really challenging for me to stay on top of all my tasks.

Expectations

Something else that weighed on me heavily was the burden of my own unmet expectations. With essentially 20k new followers, I had certain expectations of what the holidays were going to be like – all my artwork would sell out, prints would go like hotcakes, and every release would be a frenzy of excitement. But it was not like this. And in the grand scheme of things that’s okay! Selling out of collections is not a measure of success. Prints do not need to fly off the shelves like hotcakes. And if I look at my analytics and reports in isolation, they tell me the holidays went really well! It just wasn’t what I thought it was going to be.

And facing the disappointment of these unmet expectations was really challenging. Especially because at the same time, I had a problem that there was no clear solution for – severe lack of engagement. Not in an oh-no-my-engagement-has-been-a-little-down-lately but a there-is-a-serious-problem sort of way. There was about a month after the reel took off, where all the growth was affecting my account in a positive way. But after that, it has been a constant downward trajectory until my engagement was worse than it was when I had 1,400 followers. As an artist whose living comes primarily from sharing on Instagram, this issue naturally took up much of my headspace and time away from creating.

After many months of failed tests and attempts to fix the issue (everything from posting exactly as Instagram recommends, to dialoguing with Instagram directly) this January, I have found a solution that actually seems like it can fix this issue.

Overall Autumn was a lovely season in the studio. But I would be lying if I said this engagement issue and my own unmet expectations, felt like a heavy burden this holiday season.

Reflection

Even though by the time the studio closed for Christmas I was weary beyond all get out, this season was not a failure. There were many things that went really well! And I created work I am really proud of. Yet as I look back I am still in a space where I need to intentionally reframe my thoughts about it and choose to not let the hard parts about it eclipse all the good.

What is one way you can reframe your perspective about something that happened in 2021? What good can you see now because of this?

What is an unresolved issue that you are still working through? Can you take time this week to hash through potential solutions? 

 

Collect the artwork

Most of what I created during the holidays was collected, however, I always have prints available on my website. There are also still a handful of antique framed prints too. I’ve linked the available pieces below.

Framed Print iv – 6×7 antique bronze frame

 

Framed Print ii – 5.75 x 7.75 antique wood carved frame

Framed Print v – 9 x 11 Vintage wood frame with brass floral detailing

Framed Print viii – 13×15 inch antique gold frame with mat

Framed Print viii – 13.5 x 21.5 hand-carved antique frame

 

Tomorrow I will be wrapping up the series sharing about the creation of a particular collection as well as sharing a few insights and findings from this season. As usual, there will be a few questions to help you dive inward along with me. Below is a quick reference guide to all the posts in this series.

Winter: A Dream in Bloom

Winter: A Desire for a Creative Life

Spring: Beauty Keeps Hope Alive

Spring: Failure is a Gift

Summer: Darkness a Safe Retreat

Summer: Art as Connection

Autumn: The Burden of Expectations

Autumn: Unity in romance & logistics

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *