Judging by this post's title, maybe you would think that the subject deviates from slightly more artistic or professional matters. I want to reassure you that this post is not a preaching one nor I am trying to come off as a super profound person, though I value and trust my sensitivity a great deal. This post comes from personal experience, which is directly connected with my work as an illustrator and the conclusions I got from that experience.
If by some chance you happened to read my previous post on how I was featured in Doodlewash®, where I explained my art's journey, you would know that my finally being an illustrator took me a lot to figure out. I was, for a long time, in what I call "The Age of Not Believing" just like that beautiful song in the Disney classic Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971, Robert Stevenson). That song is so accurate for me that, indeed, I was at The Age of Not Believing for many years. Eventually, that changed by constantly drilling my mind with a more positive perspective on everything, specially myself. That leads me on to appreciation and the compelling effect it has had on my life and, by all means, my work.
Strictly speaking and according to Thesaurus, the term refers to:
- Gratitude and thankful recognition.
- The act of estimating the qualities of things and giving them their proper value.
- A clear perception or recognition, especially of aesthetic quality.
- An increase or rise in the value of property, goods, etc.
- A critical notice; evaluation; opinion, as of a situation, person, etc.
- A critique or written evaluation, especially when favorable.
As you can see, one word alone –and I am a firm believer in the power of words–, encompasses a bunch of ideas that can absolutely strengthen anyone personally and professionally. However, I have to be honest, some terms and concepts, can be challenging. Those positive ideas are not often encouraged, except from a religious perspective, which can make some of us feel a bit uneasy at first. As I have come to realize, I had to fully embrace the term without prejudice or concern. It might seem like a simple and obvious approach but, believe me, it is a very difficult one to apply.
I initially started with smaller things, proving that it felt awkward at times because, as I said, we are not encouraged to appreciate –least of all ourselves– but, in many cases, quite the opposite. As I progressed, I found myself giving more value to my capabilities, attitude and circumstances. As the definition of the word asserts, it is not merely about recognizing your merits but also about having a broader discernment about what you are and what you do, either good or bad. All this process transformed into a feeling of gratitude and a better perception of my artwork and that of others. A better comprehension of my process resulted in more productivity and a need to strive for a more balanced and organized schedule. Little by little, it is also contributing to my personal and professional relationships. It has had a tremendous impact and has literally benefited every aspect of my life and work.
As I thought about writing this post and researched a little to look out for other professional takes on the subject, I found that there is a lot said about appreciating others, as Mike Robbins' talks regarding The Power of Appreciation. While this is really important to do, I believe that applying this concept to ourselves is equally decisive. As I have experienced, giving myself and my work proper value triggers same attitude when being in touch with others.
I hope you found this post helpful and if you have any comments, I encourage you to write down below. I would really appreciate it! Pun intended.
P. S. I want to dedicate this post to the food artist Judy Unger whose work I admire, who inspired me to write this post and whose positive appreciation has lead me try different approaches to my artwork such as the one illustrating this post.