There is change afoot.
After conversations with my sister’s boyfriend, also a fellow WebTrader, I have decided to abandon my previously uncomfortable and awkward career title.
I am no longer a web designer, but a digital interactive artist. Well, in theory. Or something along those lines, it still feels like I have a mouthful of Chewits and I keep forgetting key parts.
It is going to take a while to get used to.
Yesterday, I said it to a client, a new face, someone who didn’t know my previous heavy burden of relentless rollovers. Initially, as the words fell out, I felt like an impostor. But she believed me, she even sounded almost impressed.
Yes, it may have a mild hint of wankiness about it, but I feel that if I’m going to make this change, I need to do it properly, embrace change, start anew. This won’t be the WebStress freelancer of old. I have learnt my trade, I have read, I have consumed, I have seen, I have listened. I have experience.
I’ve even asked my sister and Amy to help me sort my personal image so at least I offer a faint echo of the promises I want to achieve with my digital work.
After all, say it softly, tentatively, quietly, in case it isn’t true, in case I have time to deny it, or my conscience can ducktape over the words, after all I do know my stuff.
So, this ‘artist’ label is taking a little while to digest. I could spit it out, but I’m holding it there, like a piece of gristle, trying to swallow, down it goes, almost there. The ‘designer’ part of my previous label is how I was attacked, my Achilles heel. Surely the seeming upgrade to artist is opening my wound a little further, a little deeper, come poke your stick here, look at all this fragile space.
But it has been partly my fault. I am not trained as a designer, let alone an artist, and I have worn that label so openly, so prominently, that I might as well have been walking around with the critique equivalent to a piece of paper with ‘twat’ written on it stuck to my back.
If there’s one thing spending an uncomfortable £6 on monthly issues of Computer Arts have taught me, if you don’t believe you have talent, no one else will. Convince yourself, and convincing others will come naturally. Nothing but your own work makes you a designer or artist. It is a label, and you can choose how to fulfil your label. My degree, that aimless three years of not actually doing anything of any tangible value other than cutting things out and sticking them in project books long after the project has actually been completed to satisfy criteria, could to others be the qualification that I bestow upon myself. After all, its ambiguous title which has always deeply frustrated me could be used to my advantage. I am self-taught. But I am well read, I am well researched. Maybe, just maybe, that knowledge, that understanding, has seeped in, has embedded itself in the roots of my creativity. Maybe I just didn’t notice. Maybe it just needs nuturing, encouraging, in order to show its true colours.
So, in taking control and at the start of laying the foundations of what will be a lengthy preparation process, on Monday I tentatively started a design blog.
This blog was supposed to be separate from my identity as the WebStress, as thinly veiled as Clark Kent’s glasses maybe, but nonetheless a separation of identity that someone could only accuse me of, always with a margin of error. I told a few close and personals, passing over the url with the cautious words of treat me gently…this was the first glimpse into my creativity beyond the form and function of the endless web restrictions. A champion of accessibility, a guru of usability, abandoned in just free creativity.
God it felt good. The designs I posted over the last few days, ones that nearly didn’t make it, and then I thought ‘oh sod this’ and posted them anyway, refusing to let my restrictive guards hold back work to be lost forever, on a pile of endless work to be tweaked at some stage, at some time never, they were art. My art.
So I was making myself an artist, beneath the protective wings of a few supportive souls who I would bear everything to, who have seen my virtual scars and wounds, who have seen how a client can strip you, and pull and tug at you, with a quip, a comment, a throwaway remark that attaches like a leech and sucks and drains you, because you didn’t have the strength to fight back, you lacked courage in your convictions, you didn’t believe in yourself, you didn’t argue, you didn’t say ‘you’re wrong, I’m right’, you didn’t trust yourself.
Then this morning I logged on to blog, picking up my neglected WebStress lycra, tugging it on over my goosepimpled skin in the virtual changing room of Blogger’s dashboard.
But something unexpected happened.
Somehow, emerging into the sunlight of a new post, ready to whine about all things web in my alternative identity, I had forgotten to don my x-ray specs.
I had (momentarily abandoning my self indulgence of pretending I am actually a superhero instead of a web designer) merged the two blogs, through an upgrade to Blogger Beta using my gmail account, which I was using for my new blog.
This was almost entirely my fault (the almost being attributed to the internet in general, as I refuse to take the full blame despite it being entirely my own decision to enter those specific gmail details).
So there it was, my new beautiful pristine blog tainted by my grumpy, frustrated WebStress identity.
So I won’t be showing it to any potential clients then, I’m guessing.
But, I guess it isn’t so bad. This is who I am after all. This is me (although perhaps I should add some description about the items within the packaging – fragile, handle with care, just for now, just while the dust settles and the foundations form).
As long as I still get to wear the Lycra.