Has this ever happened to you?
Friend: "Hey, you know how to draw - can you create a logo for me?"
You think to yourself: " I'm not a graphic designer and I don't know how to use Illustrator... BUT this could be a great learning opportunity... And I could teach myself using video tutorials online... And I could put it in my portfolio...
Friend: "I'll pay you."
You: "Yeah, sure! I can do that!"
When you first start out freelancing, it is easy to fall into the trap of taking any job that comes your way.
I fell hard and fast.
I had no clear direction for my purpose and voice as an artist when I started freelancing. I knew I loved watercolor and illustration, but I wondered if I could realistically do those things to make a living. When several pro bono graphic design jobs came my way through friends and friends-of-friends, I took them to build a portfolio. I did not really want to be a graphic designer but if I could get paid for work I did not want to do, I thought it would give me the financial freedom to do personal work on the side.
After several months of working with clients for free, the paid jobs started coming in. I was happy to be making money but I soon realized there was a catch - I was frustrated trying to reconcile what seemed to be two very opposing forces: my purpose and voice as an artist VS. my client's needs and wants.
If you are an artist, you have probably experienced this yourself: creating for others and creating for yourself are two very different things. I had many clients trust me with the freedom to create, but I was unsatisfied as there was no purpose behind it for me. I thought making time to paint for myself while I waited on client feedback would help, but that quickly got boring because, again, I was creating without any real purpose. I was painting florals because they were pretty and others liked them. I eventually stopped doing personal work altogether.
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man?
If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
- Galatians 1:10
After a year of frustration and trying so hard to please others or myself, I felt nothing but apathy. I was apathetic about client work and I was apathetic about my personal work. Everything I created lacked purpose because my eyes were not set on God; my eyes were set on the approval of man.
God is a jealous God and He is angry when our affections are not all for Him. In His goodness, God is simultaneously wrathful and patient with us when we make idols apart from Him. I praise the Lord for His never-changing character, that He is always jealous when we stray but He is also always patient.
In His love for us, the Father shows us that we cannot be satisfied without Him. When I realized the folly of my efforts to seek meaning and purpose apart from Him, the Father was full of mercy and embraced me when I came crawling back, as if I had never strayed.
After shifting my perspective to be aligned with God's, my identity is no longer in pleasing my client nor in my personal work. I am not Sojung, the graphic designer, the artist.
I am Sojung, a daughter of God bought with the blood of the Lamb.
Being an artist is how I make a living, how God has provided for my livelihood, but it does not define me. I know my purpose is not in pleasing my clients, making a name for myself in the creative industry, nor to create for myself.
I am still trying to figure out what this looks like for me practically on a daily basis. MUNDANE TYPE was created for exactly that purpose - to explore what it means to practically be a Christian artist, to be creative, and that glorifying God be my ultimate goal.
What are some practical ways that you glorify God through your creativity and your work?