Sketch for the day 02 / Pointing [pixivSketch 28/05/2021] + ramble on managing social media (LeonieArtRambles podcast #6)

“Pointing” [my original prompt post]

Took this chance to do a photo study! ;D

LeonieArtRambles 06

Managing social media as an artist better, mental health, perfectionism, niches, uncertainty and constantly evolving my boundaries

I’ve been trying to distance myself from worrying about the varying amounts of indifference/apathy to my work when I post to social media. Especially when my rough and experimental work leads to varying engagement (replies, likes, shares, interactions). Plus the addictive and distracting nature of the platform itself, unhelpful comparisons to other artists (how they create and post things), feeling left behind, feeling irrelevant, not really doing what the algorithm wants me to do and not being “engaging” enough.

And I’m just keeping things to twitter, reddit, pixiv, youtube and discord (I quit instagram and facebook)!!

Ahh!! Help I’m worrying about ultimately unimportant things again!! :< And twitter isn’t really working for me when it comes to reaching new people and people who are still following me. Or maybe my work isn’t “engaging” enough.

It’s odd that I’m still feeling like this even when I intentionally have twitter metrics hidden from me! I guess it’s because I still check my notifications and that tells me vaguely how many/who liked my tweets. When people pop out of nowhere to like a tweet after many years and then disappear again – it’s not really a real, substantial connection or friendship building on its own as it’s a fleeting, passive “come and go” thing. There’s no escape from overthinking it seems, especially when you’re a hermit like me 🙁

Perhaps I should try checking my mentions only?? Ignore my notifications completely?? I don’t know if I can do that; I’m so used to checking my notifications for the validation :<

I really don’t like how I’m depending so much on social media to feel that me and my art are worthy, taking things personally (when I logically shouldn’t because the algorithm works against human beings and I’m a passive lurker generally) and it’s a constant, mindful and emotional thing to manage :’) I know I shouldn’t be controlled by social media but the emotional side of it gets to me in waves because of the inherent “reaching out for validation” nature of the system. It sucks you back into wanting your work to have recognition and into boosting/damaging your ego (either people pay attention and acknowledge your post/work or you get tumbleweeds and nobody cares to interact with your post because understandably everyone is busy with limited time, interests and lurk like me too ) 🙁

Of course I’m not expecting or demanding people to engage with my work. I’m just talking about my emotional side of it. You put all this work into writing this up, thinking what to say and making art and sometimes you don’t get anything back and that’s the nature of it. On an emotional level, sometimes it gets to you. I’m only human and I have feelings. I’m not trying to expect things from people; people don’t really do what you want or expect them to do regardless – everyone has agency and nobody can control others after all.

All you can do is to manage your own choices, actions and feelings. And this is just me rambling on my side of internal feelings and thoughts with how I manage social media.

It’s tiring. I’ve tried many things with social media over the years (agony, social media breaks, different platforms, iterating boundaries, trial and error) to see what works for me. I don’t have that “entertaining, personable aura/personality” and I’m fine with that most of the time. Other times it does bother me as I’m not doing what other people are doing. But then again I don’t want to because it’s not who I am. But who I am is not what most people are interested in. Whoops I’m in a loop!

I don’t feel like I’m mainstream (for the best I suppose), I don’t have a huge/substantial engaged audience and I’m thinking these things because I still feel like I need to become an “influencer artist” somehow to succeed (even though it’s not true) :S

I do know that I do not want to live stream by myself for one thing! That’s too much performance anxiety on my own! I need to at least have one other person to live stream with (if I ever actually do it). I can’t deal with carrying the stream on my own and I can’t deal with being an entertainer/performer in front of internet strangers. If there’s too much to focus on me, I’ll freeze up, I don’t function anymore and I’ll shut down. Too much for me. Not for me. As much as it’s tempting when I see a lot of artists do livestreaming, Vtubing and seem to succeed and thrive. And some of them seem to succeed as things become more saturated. I don’t want to do it as it’s not for me but I do wonder if I’ll ever find my own way to reach others. A way that suits my personality. I’m not sure if there’s a space for me. Does it exist? Do I belong anywhere? Do I really need to belong anywhere?

That’s a question I don’t have the answer to. All I have is this blog.

I know that I don’t have the best mental health at times to manage social media, I also have my personal traumas, insecurities, anxieties and my reserved disposition so I’m iterating and sorting my social media boundaries all the time. I don’t want to deal with the thoughts, activities, emotions and voices of many on a daily basis when I’m already trying to deal with my own shenanigans. I do occasionally comment on things when I have something to say and the headspace to do so but it’s rare :<

I feel like I’m not in a good space or headspace to deal with mainstream social media. It’s too noisy. It’s too much. It’s a lot of people trying to get your attention, a lot of people trying to get your time. This includes what I post out there; I’m also trying to get your attention and time! I understand both sides and if I do actually get attention or acknowledgement – it’s super rare already!

No one/few people are going to read this blog post which is why I did an audio/podcast version as an attempt to reach people. It’s a lot of “how would I reach people?” and then let it go once I put it out there.

I’m not expecting anything and I do appreciate it a lot when people actually take their time to read/listen and appreciate my work. It’s rare as the internet is already saturated and noisy – full of all kinds of people of different interests, personalities and approaches. So thank you for reading if you’re out there!

I also don’t want to feel used by social media platforms and constantly give away my mental health, time, headspace, work, joy and creativity away like this for free.

That’s why I was/am so torn about paywalled content (when I was trying out patreon content). I do want to be valued for what I do (in a capitalist world that’s out of our control, I do need to be pragmatic and eat, survive, sleep, learn) and there’s also those who can’t afford to access paywalled content. So I definitely agonised over what “value” I could bring to patrons and I felt helpless, stressed out and overwhelmed with dread and perceived expectations. Finally I decided to let this all go and currently I’m keeping my patreon as my little support tip jar (huge thank you again patrons for your support, patience, kindness and understanding!)

At times I do feel pressured to have a popular, performative, influencer/artist persona in order to have my work to be acknowledged and seen. Especially when I watch a lot of youtube and twitch myself, seeing how well they’re doing. I feel very much conflicted about caring too much and I’ve been striving to find ways to create for myself without falling completely off the radar.

I consider my own blog as my online home. And this kind of post is a start towards posting my own rough work and studies when able at my own slow pace. Still I won’t be getting readers since my blog is an island, it’s not really a social media platform and social media links to this blog gets less exposure and visibility anyway (perhaps I should care less about this and post links on twitter in spite of the algorithm nah it definitely does matter even a little bit, based on testing and my experience). I feel that everything in the mainstream/corporate world and space is rigged against the independent artist/creative (hey they’re trying to get you addicted, you’re the product and person to be advertised to). So all one can do is to persist, assess, reflect, experiment, adapt and stay resilient.

What else can you do? I don’t know.

I don’t know if I want to post too much at twitter anymore so I’ll test tweeting the important, quality pieces that I’m proud of and keep most posts like this one here (drawing challenges, studies, rough sketchposts). Plus I didn’t get much engagement anyway with my previous sketch prompt tweet ;P It further demonstrates that few people on twitter want to see my rough sketches, experiments and studies. And it’s also because it has a blog link in it :S

I will continue to post future sketches of the day when able at this blog, reddit and pixiv! I’ll pick out and post the ones I like to twitter later? I’m not sure yet. Does anyone want me to post these sketches for the day to twitter?

Ultimately I want people to keep updated here the most and to keep my twitter free from performance anxiety and worrying about people not going to my blog. I’ll play it by ear and will keep trying things.

I also won’t follow the “draw everyday” restriction as it’s unhelpful to my mental health. I’ll just draw when I want to and strive to not care if I get validation for it. Currently the way I’m doing this is keeping to my blog.

But I got more engagement on reddit and maybe discord! And pixiv since it’s their sketch prompts? So those might be the exceptions! I guess I’m staying away from the mixed bag of twitter for now?? I guess I’m not posting/updating to twitter too much to spite it ;P

Ahhh my mixed feelings, I want to let it go into the trash :’)

I just want to post for my own sake and to document my art journey. To not worry about perfectionism and just practice, learn and make mistakes. I hope to be less addicted and obsessed with engagement and to emotionally distance myself from metrics one day but I’m not too sure if that would truly happen when ultimately I do want to reach people through my art and work. And metrics is a way to judge this and whether things are resonating with people, for better or for worse :’)

I’m probably talking to myself here as few people viewed my previous one. It reminds me of my earlier years of blogging where nobody read my blog at all until years later. And I probably check my blog’s statistics too much :<

Being an artist is a lonely path. Because you’re constantly dealing with creative problems and there’s no off switch (unless you force yourself or schedule it in). Or perhaps it’s just me; I function by getting into intense mode about a thing or two and burn out on it if I don’t switch gears in time :’)

Being an artist is lonely also because I’m always evolving and I refuse to be stuck in a niche/box (well at least for me). Unfortunately everyone who gives business advice tells you to stick to one niche or a type/genre of art. Get known for being good at that thing. I understand why on the business side of things but I just unconsciously and consciously resist this with trying to find my niche. I don’t want it. I want to keep learning and then move onto the next thing once I’m bored of something. Or get deeper into my special interest in spite of everything else and the horrible odds. I want to keep evolving. I don’t want to be stuck in a corner. I don’t want to be trapped by people saying “oh she just draws cute things” and they disregard the other work I do. Or people just appreciating the fanart/illustrations and ignore my studies and other original stuff I do. These are the kinds of things I think about.

There’s also people suggesting things that I’m not interested in. For instance that I should do kid literature illustration – but I don’t want to. It’s very hard, there’s lots of hoops to jump through in order to visualise someone else’s story. It’s not my kind of thing. As much as people think my art style suits it, I don’t want to be stuck in a niche right now.

Maybe my niche is cute things after all? I don’t know for sure. I just feel existential over this word and “brand”. Who am I. What kind of art am I making? What am I doing here? Who cares? Why am I stressing over this? Why are there so many expectations at play? Why can’t I just focus on learning and creating? A lot of existential questions, yes.

Anyhoo I don’t know or believe in myself that I’ll get somewhere with what I do and “make it”. Because I’ve been so disappointed, discouraged and overlooked more times than when I do get lucky opportunities. Hey I did get and appreciate the lucky opportunities in my career so far! There’s just a lot more times when I get rejected, ignored, dismissed, kept in the dark and overlooked (which is normal). I’m not right for every project and that’s fine.

I just don’t know what the future would bring. The future is scary. I don’t want to think about it right now. All I can do now is not worry about whether I’ll make it to the next chapters of my life.

But I’ll keep trying my best anyway :’) That’s all we could all do. Especially given the current situation with the world. Take things in stride, do the best we can, take care of each other and stay kind. Indeed a lot of general, vague feel good things I could say.

To be blunt I feel neutral, sad, disappointed, lonely, hopeless, empty, frustrated and scared of the future and sometimes not really (as my mood fluctuates). I don’t want to think and dwell about it too much. I do tunnel vision into the present most of the time. And there are times where I don’t know what I’m doing with my art and agonise over it with myself :’)

I don’t know and managing the uncertainty as it resurfaces. I’m juggling with a lot of things right now and I’m tired so I’ll be ending this post here! I hope I am coherent haha

Thank you, if you actually read my feelings and thoughts. Please take care this weekend!