About overcoming fears

As long as I can think I’ve been drawing. Art and illustration is my passion, it’s the only thing I’m sure about, it’s the only thing that makes me feel calm. Calm in a sense that there is nothing else that can compete with the way I love sinking in movements of brushes with color. I compare it with meditating even though I wouldn’t contend what meditation is. It’s my safe place. And a lot of people don’t know that I always downplayed my own skills or talent. Giving up on my uncertainty and extreme humility was not one step, it was a process. Not saying humility isn’t important, but from that point of insecureness about what I did and still do, art I would say, to the point where I know what I want to do and achieve with it I had to overcome my own fear. I was scared of not being good enough, about not having enough possibilities in my future and the appraising looks from other people.

A few weeks ago I had a conversation with one of my work colleagues. We were talking about our future plans and she mentioned that what she was doing right now wasn’t what she actually wanted to do with her life. She said usually, she had have had other plans, waiting for the right moment to change tack, to end things that didn’t satisfy her and start the things that fulfill her. I know we live in a society where we’re often looking for something better. A better partner, a better living situation, a better life. It’s put in our mind every day that we could exchange the life we live right now. But that’s not easy, money plays a big role and often a seemingly perfect life displayed on social media or in movies isn’t that perfect at all – it’s just our twisted perception caused by dissatisfaction and the unhealthy but never ending comparison to other people. 

That being said, I wanted to be getting at something else. The girl I was talking to doesn’t necessarily want a better (whatever that is) life, she just wants a different one. She knows what her passion is, her dream, but she’s not on the way of pursuing this dream. Why? There is only one good reason for it: she’s scared. Scared of all the things that might happen to her, in other words, that she might fail. And I know this fear very well. Fear is for me some kind of inner demon that belongs to yourself. It will probably never leave your mind, it’s symbolically adnate to your personality. It can also drive you to do things that can be good. But not always.In that moment talking to her I felt exactly what she was feeling. She was so honest and I could put myself in her shoes a hundred percent. There have been so many situations in my life where I was too scared to do something, to make a decision or just try. But the moments I did try, I was always glad I took the chance. Of course, sometimes we fail. Isn’t failing better than never getting that „what if?“ out of our minds? It’s so damn human to create this mirage, a special moment in our near future in which we imagine to finally do “it”, finally step out of our monotone whitewashed lifes and get what we were waiting for all along.

Often, the expectation is that we just have to overcome some thing, and some condition is getting better. We stay passive, just wait for the next thing happening. It’s a certain point in our life we’re awaiting. But truth is, this certain point never comes. As long as we don’t break out of everyday life and do things that scare us, not one thing will change. It takes courage, a lot of courage, but it’s worth it. And I believe we can learn to be brave. The first step is to put all your apologies you tell yourself to the side. There always is a reason for not tackling something. But honestly.. that’s all bullshit.Why are we always so pessimistic about an outcome? The negative result is just one option of various ones. Why can’t we trust that everything might go right? Steve Jobs once said the ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones that do. And that’s the same with fear, isn’t it? If we’re always scared of the next big step in our life and stay in out little bubble, our comfort zone, we’ll never experience something new, and we will never really change something. Things might stay ok. But ok is not what your life should be like, right?

One of my favorite German child book authors Cornelia Funke said that the only thing standing between us and our lives is our own fear. It’s our little demon, the devil sitting on our shoulder. If we indulge, we’re feeding the fear. There is no change in life without paying with fear and it makes one feel incredibly happy and free to do things we are scared of. I think this is so true and I encourage everyone to overcome their fears. That’s how we grow. Everything we want is on the other side of fear – and what would we do if we weren’t afraid? There is always a way back if you fail. There are always people who help you get up when you fall. If it’s still in your mind, it’s worth taking the risk. 

My studies or why I do what I do

In the past couple of weeks my main focus in life started to be on my graphic design studies again. Not that it wasn’t that important before, but the more this semester took it’s course, the more serious (and stressful) it got. I received several messages with people asking about my art, what I study, why I study, what I like about it or if I would recommend it. That’s why I’m writing this blogpost, and maybe it’s not even a bad idea to tell you what I’m doing and why I’m doing it – I guess that’s pretty much who I am and as I said before, my main focus in life right now.

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Why did you decide to study graphic design?

During High School I discovered that I’m neither very talented in science, nor in languages. I’ve never been passionate about anything but art. I planned on studying fine art after graduating from school. At first I finished my apprenticeship as a dressmaker at home and moved to Cologne where I got a job as a flight attendant. I worked for a German airline for about a year – but I knew when I started that it was just some transition before studying. I had a fun time, got more self consciousness, met some people who still are my best friends today and made good money for traveling. I applied for fine art at Central Saint Martins College in London. I didn’t get in. It was my first attempt to get into university and I was disappointed – now I know this college is highly regarded and only the best of the best get a place to study there. I wasn’t ready in any way to study in London but it was a dream I’ve had for a longer time. In the meanwhile I also got interested in design and applied for graphic and communication design at HMKW (the name of my university) in Cologne – somehow I didn’t want to leave this city again and design seemed to be a better option to get a job in the future.


One of my Aquarelle Illustrations

What are your studies about?

The name of my study program is graphic design and visual communication. It’s definitely not only about design; there really are no borders between media design, communication design and graphic design, just main aspects that are dedicated to one of these subjects. I took classes in photography, art history, press, print, entertainment law, 3D and motion design, film, illustration and drawing, app design, color studies and communication. It’s important to learn various things of this broad range of subjects because every one connects to the other ones. For example, working with photography taught me things I can apply when working with cooperate or UX design. If you’re interested in studying the same you should be interested in all kinds of creative fields that design can offer. It’s ok if one of these subjects is ineligible for you, for me it definitely is 3D and motion design, but a certain curiosity to try new things is required.


A poster I made in university

Do you like studying?

I absolutely love what I do – but it has not always been like that. When I started studying about two years ago, I wasn’t sure if I’m into it. Having a creative mind was in my opinion not something that is controllable. I was creative whenever I felt like it and amazing things resolved out of that. In university it was unfamiliar being permanently under pressure to produce creative and decent works in a short space of time. There were some hurdles I had to overcome, but the good thing is that gradually you learn what it actually means to be creative, you get taught how to encourage creativity and how to cope with stressful situations. I have these moments where a deadline is near and I didn’t even start working because nothing I do satisfies me and I feel lost having not even one good idea. This also teaches you time management. You see, I learned a lot of things and there probably also are things I learned I’m not even conscious about. There are some people that say being educated in creative fields like graphic design shouldn’t take place in university but as an apprenticeship – I don’t have any empirical value in that but I can tell you that my studies are more than practical and I feel more and more prepared and ready to work in that business in a couple of years.


A children’s book I made at my illustration class

And what about your art?

I get a lot of messages from people asking me about my illustrations and what material I use. First, my illustrations have nothing to do with my studies but here and there I can make use of them. Funnily enough, there is nothing special about my materials. My grandma used to paint and she gave me all her old Aquarelle colors: I only have this one set of colors from “Schmincke” – I guess they’re over 30 years old but still work perfectly. I buy my paper, pencils (Faber Castell) and fineliners (waterproof, 0.3 mm diameter) at an ordinary stationary where you can get all kinds of office supplies. I outline my motive with a pencil, use the fineliner to sketch the final and color it in with Aquarelle. One thing is really important when starting to paint: Don’t be afraid. Just paint! Don’t think about how untalented you are, if something might go wrong, or if it will look good in the end. I promise you, if it’s not you – someone else will like it! In art there is no instruction, there are no rules or guidelines to follow. Just let yourself drift in the flow of colors.