This morning I have the honor of featuring Kaz of Awkward Affections. I’m so inspired by her story. She has taken the experiences that she has had in life and used them to fuel her creative endeavors. And she gives a pretty awesome pep talk too! Meet Kaz!
Please introduce yourself.
Hi, I’m Kaz! I am the illustrator and owner of Awkward Affections. I grew up in Putnam New York and moved to San Francisco in 2009.
What do you make or do?
I have always used drawing as a way to look deeper at life, and a means of getting away from it as well. Being shy and uncontrollably awkward, I love to explore communication and how people relate to each other and the rest of the world. I focus on the absurdity of personal interaction with cheeky, honest greeting cards. On the other hand, I also use art as a way of escapism, and illustrate the geeky things that made my awkwardness possible.
Where can we find your creations?
My shop, info and blog are all on my website: www.awkwardaffections.com
And you can also find me on Etsy: www.etsy.com/shop/AwkwardAffections
How long have you been creating and is it your full-time job?
I’m not sure I would have ever had the confidence to start something like this if it wasn’t out of desperation. I finished grad school at the worst time for employment, and after months of hopelessly trying to sell my soul for a job (any job), I started posting on Etsy to make some extra cash. I was never particularly interested in business–in school we took a “Business for Artists” class, and while useful, it was grueling. Because of this, I never truly thought that life was for me. When I started actually selling work and making my own business, I began to enjoy and appreciate the process (much more than I enjoyed learning about it from the sidelines). Eventually, I stopped wasting my energy writing pointless cover letters and put it all into my work.
Is creativity a luxury or a necessity for you?
Most definitely both! I know how absolutely lucky I am to have support and opportunity to pursue a creative life. I would not be a whole person if I couldn’t do this work, and even though it may not always be a comfortable and lucrative path, I am completely in awe of being able to do something I love.
What obstacles have you had to overcome to lead a creative life?
Truthfully, I was (and am) my own biggest obstacle. It is seriously daunting to commit to a creative field, and I tried to avoid it. Putting your work out there is scary, especially because there is so much talent in the world already. Then there is the stereotypical social perspective of artists being delusional, lazy, emotional train wrecks who make no money (which is hard to get past). I was even worried that because I wasn’t an emotional train wreck, I would never have “vision” or be a “real artist”. It was all ridiculous! I had to learn to get past the mental chatter, forget what people think I should be, and really focus on my determination. Knowing other people are following their creative lives, meeting them at shows and conferences, that has been a huge help bringing personal validation and courage. Now when I tell people what I do and they respond with, “so…unemployed?” I can roll my eyes and remember how I get to wake up and go to bed on my terms. If that isn’t being an adult, I don’t know what is.
If money wasn’t an issue how would your life change with regards to your art?
Well, at the times I wasn’t Scrooge-McDuck-swimming in my piles of money, I would probably take more risks on larger projects that are potentially very time consuming. It is hard to start something intensive when you do not know the outcome or reception, so having that kind of financial freedom would make such a thing easier. I would also definitely expand what I’m currently working on, no question.
What would be your perfect day off?
Reading comics in the sunshine, with my phone somewhere on the moon.
What inspiring advice would you give to other creatives be they established or just starting out?
Many of us use creativity as a way to relax or ground ourselves. Turning a creative field into a source of income will definitely become work eventually, so make sure you protect the love of what you do. Keep checking in with why you started, where your heart is, and make sure you have other means of downtime. Otherwise, you will be working all the time and start resenting what used to be a passion.
Then most importantly, have patience. Things can be slow and scary in the beginning, but do not let doubt or fear conquer you. You will always be learning and figuring things out, no matter what stage you are in. It is ok to sometimes feel lost. There are many great resources out there, and if you are on this site, you are off to a good start. Just keep working hard, remember why you started this, and make what you love.
Who are the makers that inspire you?
Every single maker out there. Those who have trail-blazed through the uncertainty and made their craft successful, those who are just starting out and taking a risk because they can’t live any other way–all of you are amazing, gutsy, and I wouldn’t be doing this without knowing I wasn’t alone.