...is holding on to your style.
At least for me it is.
When I first pushed my artwork out into the world, I was unsure. Then happy when it seemed to be generally well received. And then something seemed to get lost...and I struggled for a little while.
I got nervous that my color schemes weren't happy enough (they generally aren't), that my themes weren't mainstream enough (which often they are not), that people would think I was just plain weird (which they have frequently said).
There was a time period when I made things that I thought other people wanted to see, that would be better accepted, that stayed away from the black and dark tones that I like, from the somewhat creepy edge that sometimes finds its way into my work.
When I realized this was happening, I made a decision: I needed to become comfortable with the idea that I can't make everyone happy. Its not really a feeling that ever entirely goes away but its one of those things that is a necessary evil.
My style is constantly evolving, its something that grows and stretches with me as life plods along. When times are difficult and painful, the work reflects it - somber and black and moody. When times are content, there is more experimenting - a willfulness to try out things that might not work. And as time builds up, a different kind of feeling creeps in - one of confidence, of sureness, of quiet strength.
Its a kind of unconscious diary that can be traced in a slow steady way.
Its something that I've come to guard almost as much as the act of creating itself. I still catch myself considering altering something to suit other people's tastes. It instantly kicks up a fit of annoyance, and three words flash through my mind "This isn't me."
And so I do what feels natural and all the while I know that somewhere someone will probably think "That's awful."
And that's okay.
I make art because I have to. That dictates that I need to find meaning and fulfillment in it. Sharing it with others who find the same thing in it is a gift but not a requirement.
There is room for everyone's voice, no matter how far off it is from our own. There are things that don't thrill me but I know that others see it in a way that feels like home. And that's what I love so much about what we do - the endless possibilities that hold out their hands for us to follow.
Hold on to your style. If you don't do the work, who else will?