You may or may not know that before I became an illustrator and art teacher, I used to be a photographer. For about 10 years I worked as a freelancer for magazines, advertising agencies and design agencies.
It was great. I could pay the bills by doing commissioned work. But even though I was appreciated by my clients, at some point the commissioned work didn’t spark the joy that it brought me at the beginning of my freelancing career. You could say that after almost 10 years working as a photographer, I lost my mojo. But I don’t think that’s entirely true. It’s more like it moved in a different direction. I needed more creativity. In a different way. Meeting deadlines to deliver the pictures I was asked to make, just didn’t fill that need anymore.
By starting to polish up my drawing skills (I’ve always enjoyed drawing a lot and have done it ever since I was a kid), I rediscovered the artist in me. Mind you, it took me years to call myself an artist!
Rather than holding a camera, I enjoyed pen and pencil so much more and that’s, in a nutshell, how I started to explore a different kind of creative journey for myself.
Change is good.
When I couldn’t deny any longer that the photography business wasn’t going to make me happy anymore, I knew a lot was going to change.
Change can be scary – and believe me; it was scary to leave the photography path I was on, and take a different path that was completely unknown!
On the other side, it forced me to look at my skills, my values, and my dreams. And those dreams had changed over the years. What did I enjoy most? Organically, I was drawn towards the art form I had always liked so much: drawing. So I started to do it more. How could I make it an important part of my life? And did I want it to be part of my work life, or was it just a hobby?
I had to make a lot of changes in my life to make room for my newly rediscovered skill and passion. So I found a job that paid the bills, and that also bought me time to explore my creativity. I had no idea where I wanted to go, so I took my time to learn, develop and discover. Along the way, I discovered new skills. Not just in my art!
And here we are, several years later. Now I feel confident enough about it all even to write you an email as if I’m the expert. I’m not the only expert on creativity. You are too.
The creative path is a winding road. A cliché but true. You know that -you are on that path. We can’t always see the horizon – and that’s okay. The view changes, circumstances change. Our thoughts and ideas change. We change.
And that’s all good. It keeps you sharp. Change pushes you outside of your comfort zone. It challenges you in many different ways. Here’s another cliché: outside of the comfort zone is where the magic happens. Also true.
It’s been 10 years since I moved away from photography. I have never felt any regret about the big change I made. And it has brought me onto so many adventures since! I’m sure you made changes in your life as well. Big or small. Changes that you might not have chosen for, but you made it work.
Change makes you grow and develop, so take a moment and think about it. Feel proud of what you accomplished.
You know what? I’ll change my tools today. Instead of grabbing my favorite pen to make a drawing, I’ll pick a crayon, or maybe some gouache. Or maybe I’ll do a bit of collage.
Let’s do something different than usual and shake things up!
What will you change today?
Hi I'm Koosje. I'm an illustrator and art teacher in Amsterdam, where I was born and raised. I went to school to study graphic design, then worked for ten years as an award-winning professional photographer. But eventually my love of drawing and painting took over and I became an illustrator. My illustrations have been published in many Dutch magazines and in 2011, I began blogging and started developing and teaching online art classes. In 2014 I founded Sketchbook Skool, which is a flourishing community of artists from around the world of all skill levels. View all posts by Koosje Koene