Well, a LOT happened this past 4 months.
First, getting ready for my solo exhibition collection. It was clear to me that this will be the highlight of the year, so my heart was literally dancing. Spent long hours thinking about how to present the collection and I adored every second of it. It is probably the best part of being an artist.
Along with that joy, it was a period of drastic change in my state of mind as an artist. This is extremely personal but it ended up lifting myself and the creation so I've decided to share my experience here. It is probably what every artist goes through which I was not ready for.
The fact is, for the past 4 months or so, I have seen an increase in harassing emails trying to threaten my business, from just scam-ish emails to envious hate comments. Anonymous scams are part of the internet business so it didn't bother me at all, but the ones that stood out were the ones from "similar-style artists". And this hit HARD. "Wait, why I'm getting this from other veteran mosaic artists?" Instead of ignoring them, I remember taking it personally and it certainly took me down like my heart was being forcefully pulled down.
The first thought in my mind was, "why am I being attacked when I'm just here quietly doing what I love?" Ever since working as an artist, my motto was "High hope, low expectation", just so I can keep a healthy mental status. However, this was an insufficient mindset for a professional artist, which I gradually started to realize through this experience.
I shared my story and feelings with a fellow artist, Nataly Parson, an amazing mosaic artist in Colorado who said,
"Chieko, I think you're just underestimating yourself. The truth is - you have become a great artist and you know people say: "Success comes with the price". I saw many people copying your work, but all I hear from you is kindness and willingness to share your expertise. Because you, probably like me, believe in healthy competition, which should make "similar-style artists" work even more creative. I would say, just keep doing what you're doing. The dogs bark, but the caravan goes on."
What is professionalism? In the early days, it was providing the latest best version of my work, and it never changed since. The hidden required professionalism other than the creational side was not as an "artist", but as a "person with a certain amount of exposure". It is not always the enthusiastic people who will contact you after finding you on Instagram or Pinterest. So never take anything personally, even if it is from other artists. Any negative comments that do not lead to your inner growth are just plain NOISE.
After all the breakdown, my initial motto of "High hope, low expectation" suddenly seemed unfit considering how much I went through. What I set initially to protect myself has become a curse to keep low self-esteem. It even sounded disrespectful toward my clients and even worse, myself.
I couldn't realize it on my own. It is actually hard when you're working by yourself. I had help this time, but the updates must be done by myself from now on. It was a great self-discovery, thank you, Nataly.
So how did this experience influence my collection? Well, it set me on FIRE! After gaining my mental professionalism, I was fearless. (You could probably tell by now I'm pretty simple. lol)
I hope you enjoy my first solo exhibition collection "Voyagers". The official collection page will be viewable on Nov. 13th.
" Voyagers " is a collection of visual maps reflecting the unforgettable experiences of traveling. Embodying that disconcerting feeling of disbelief mixed with excitement, the rapid absorption of new stimuli is reflected from the glass fragments on each surface. Coincidentally, a land where people with different values exist gently guides you to become more receptive to new ideas. For me, traveling is a meditational act of learning and embracing yourself in different circumstances.
The elements constructing this body of work were not only from physical muscle memories but also from the transition of perspective and ideas. The captured colors are the hues collected intentionally and unintentionally as a subtle fluctuation of emotions that were subsequently preserved under the glass to be viewed as a filtered memory. Blank spaces of grout are essential to represent the muted moments of everyday life and to emphasize the experience upon reaching one’s destination. Finally, the scattered pieces of frosted glass reflect the movement of the body, the speed of time, and the overall flow of the journey.
Each piece in this solo exhibition will be a representation of this introspective experience and an answer to the question, “How was your trip?”