why I had a mini break down on Instagram stories

Yep, anyone that follows me on instagram will probably have seen me over sharing life frequently in my stories and I personally really love using the feature, I don’t do amazing fancy well curated stories like the amazing Carrie over at WishWishWish I should probably swot up on her latest tips on how to, but anyway. I work pretty hard on the illustration side of things and yesterday morning it all came to a bit of a head, I received an email from a customer and I highly value all my customers. Bear in mind I had been trying to get into my emails for 6 days after a hacking session by some persistent peeps, anyway I manage to get in and I am confronted with this one email. It makes my heart sink because I put so much of my energy into getting all my paintings out to people as quickly as I humanly can and you know what sometimes you can’t please everyone. I worked on nearly fifteen hundred portraits and painting for clients on the lead up to Christmas and nine hundred of these were wonderful pet portraits. So ideally that one email shouldn’t of got to me right?! Wrong, a creative person I have found is often very sensitive and I don’t consider myself someone who has a weak nature or someone that gives up easily. But this morning I did, I decided to voice how I felt on my Instagram stories in the hope it would reach people that don’t read my blog or care for the captions below my Instagram photos. 

It dawned on me, I wasn’t happy doing it anymore, I love my customers but I wasn’t happy churning out pieces that didn’t make my heart sing anymore. So I made the decision to stop taking commissions through my shop, it will be a massive cut in my wages but I was starting to lower the cost of my art. People were referring to them as prints, but they are painted by hand, often people expect them to be created and posted the next day. All the relevant information is in my terms and conditions. I think we’ve become so accustomed to the ASOS and Amazon prime mentality of swift next day service. It forced me to fall out of love with something I started doing only this time last year. 

Commissions for me are my bread and butter work, its that simple, and its great to be so in demand but what I failed to realise when I saw the pound signs coming in, that my mental health with suffer. Its plummeted to an all time low. I draw for 16 hours a day, I remember to eat probably once a day and I only take myself out to post my orders. I began to feel immense guilt that people were seeing how “well” I was but deep down I was so exhausted and lonely. It was becoming unhealthy and unsustainable I was snapping at my boyfriend whilst he’s away and it almost got to the point I didn’t want to be with him anymore because all I wanted was a hug and he couldn’t. When your work starts to impact on your personal life, well there were two options facing me take my shop in a direction where I feel in control or to quit completely for six months but I know me well and I would probably just work anyway so I decided its within my power to shape the shop I want to own.

I have decided to out source all my prints, totes, cards, pins, badges and patches because off the back of the commissions I had a few pennies to be able to afford some flashy printed goodies and why not. I’m finding the process of pin making at certain manufacturers to be a struggle getting my head around. But its all learning and will be good for me in the future when it comes to ordering more. I’ve invested more money in my business in 2018 then in the last 4 years of having my company and I think it was because I was fearful of failure and wasting money, but I feel a lot more determined to give this a go because I have learnt from the painful mistake of over working. So I guess the the long and short of it is I have found my worth again, I will still be available for commissions but this will be via email, not via my shop there wont be any discounts and my prices will be going put my time and energy is important and no amount of money is worth losing them for again.

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5 Comments

  1. January 9, 2018 / 7:21 pm

    don't stop and use this as a way to move forward and develop and grow as an artist. your hand painted prints are always so wonderful x

  2. January 11, 2018 / 5:22 pm

    Ella, you are totally doing the right thing. Your comissions are beautiful and people should be paying appropriate amounts. Not expecting them to be on their doorstep within a few days. Originals take HARD WORK! Valuing your own hand will do you wonders in the future, I guarantee it. Cannot wait to see your pins as your new cards look gorgeous, gorgeous gorgeous. Here’s to investing more in yourself in 2018.

  3. January 30, 2018 / 10:31 am

    Hi Ella,

    I think it’s really brave to make a decision to stop doing something that has become the norm for you – bespoke work is a really special thing and to expect it to arrive on your doorstep within a few days is crazy!

    It can be challenging to say no to the wrong customer but it will make way for the right people who really value your beautiful work and your wellness as an artist.

    A few people I follow online open up their waitlist to orders at specific times of the year, this means they’re in control of how much of the more labour intensive work they take on and it makes it even more exciting for their customers because they have to keep an eye on when the next ordering window opens.

    Well done for making a change, I expect it’ll lead to even more exciting things in the future for you.

    Rachel 🙂

  4. Molly Frances
    February 2, 2018 / 9:17 am

    Ella, I’ve followed your work for years and I love what you do, I’ve bought a few prints but I haven’t ordered one of your original portraits. I think it’s so fair for you to take them from your shop, I think people totally don’t realise how much work you put in and I know if you bumped your prices up, even by a fair amount, when the time comes for me to want a portrait (I have a few future ideas that I’ve been keeping you in mind for), then I will be happy (and I’m certain many others will too) to pay more, because your work is beautiful and you deserve to be able to make a living from your art.

  5. Emi
    February 4, 2018 / 8:24 pm

    im quite late to this blog post but I stumbled upon it because I, too, started some mini breakdown stories on my own snapchat.
    even though I found it silly and somewhat attention-seeking, I felt as if I needed to release some of my anger and sadness. I feel you Ella. I hate it when people believe I’m all perfect, but in fact, I’m like everyone else, facing daily struggles.
    But as I made these mini breakdown stories, I came to terms with myself. I turned something heartbreaking to something empowering. Every experience I go through will come out to be a life lesson and I am more than happy to share them to the world.
    This world is ours to take on and I am so proud of you for taking control. Instead of running away from those feelings, you struck it head on. You inspire me to do what I truly love. I’m a senior in high school who is about to enter the adult world and face my ultimate fears. I guess as long as I am staying true to myself, I’ll be fine.

    Thanks again for sharing and being brave. Love you.

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