Regaining your creative mojo as an illustrator after depression

As a freelance illustrator, I’ve always believed it’s a cardinal sin to admit you are going through a ‘quiet patch’, work-wise. But I also believe that honesty is the best policy. Occasionally losing your way and ending up at the end of a cul-de-sac is part of life. How you deal with that situation can serve to strengthen you for future ‘blips’.

So my situation was that I fell victim to a deep depression in April 2013. This was down to a few factors, one of which was that my workload was dwindling. The next few months were a creative desert, the longest time I have had little or no work. It’s no exaggeration to say I completely doubted my ability to illustrate. Bearing in mind I have managed to make illustration my main living for many years, this was a very hard time for me. This lack of work, however, gave me time to heal and now, as I re-emerge into ‘normality’ again, I can see just how far from a functioning productive person/illustrator I had become.

My lack of confidence was such that I didn’t dare show any work online or otherwise for fear it would be either ignored or disliked. I had a constant feeling many many other illustrators, younger and hungrier, were snapping at my heels, pushing past me in a whirl of lucrative jobs and technological savviness. I stopped drawing, even contemplating giving up illustrating altogether, believing to my core that I was past it.

At the end of the fourth month, with the help of CBT therapy and anti-depressants, I felt a kernal of enthusiasm for illustrating again, and realised that I am actually quite good at it. My heart was in it again, and I felt, well feel, like I am a phoenix re-born. A strong phrase to use maybe, but if I recall how much I had lost my way creatively and emotionally, it isn’t too much of an exaggeration.

This blog illustration, complete with the bald head to symbolise my shaving all my hair off recently, is a metaphor for my new found energy and passion for illustrating. I’m just putting this out there for anyone who has ever felt in a similar situation as an illustrator. It is not easy out there at the moment, and hasn’t been for a long time. Anyone who loves illustrating and is talented needs to hang onto that love and never forget about it.  It’s still in there and will be there waiting for you when you are ready to acknowledge it. xx

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2 comments on “Regaining your creative mojo as an illustrator after depression”

  1. Hi Kath,

    I came across your blog post by chance, but this has truly resonated so deeply with me. I am currently going through a very low patch and reading this has brought a little of hope for me to know that it can get better. Thank you for being so honest and sharing this, it’s made my day.

    Best,

    Deborah


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