Introducing Yharnna - My journey so far!
Heya Lovelies! I seem to always get questions about how I started or how I ended up as an artist, so I thought writing a blog post on it would be a perfect way to explain my story and journey so far and connect with you all on more of a personal level!
So Initially believe it or not, I never had any actual plans on becoming an artist. In fact I spent most of my life studying to become a graphic designer at the University of arts London.
Art had always been my favourite subject all throughout school years but It had always been instilled in my head that artists cannot make money or better still “Artists can only make money once they’re dead!” That seems to be everyones favourite response, in fact it was only this week an old man told me this!
It was essentially because of this stigma that artists were always going to be poor that I decided to still stay within the creative industry but steer towards a field that I thought would be slightly more lucrative- Graphic Design!
To be completely honest I enjoyed graphic design but never loved it how I loved art! Someway or another I would always find a way to incorporate fine art into my digitalised graphic design projects. As time went on my work became more and more digitalised I had now started to specialise in more editorial design eg. magazine design, books, posters I loved branding and believed that this was my calling ! I was so wrong.
It was in year two of uni that everything changed and I had a HUGE REALISATION! I had a close friend at the time who’s dad sadly passed away. I felt terrible as any close friend would, I thought of things I could do to make things better, but I knew I couldn’t change anything.
I decided to draw a portrait of his dad for him and his family as a tribute. This was the best decision that I have ever made!
I spent weeks perfecting this portrait in my bedroom on a small desk at the end of my bed. It had been the first time I had drawn a face in over 3 years since my A Level art exam to be exact.
After weeks of perfecting the A2 drawing I was ecstatic with the results. It had been so long since I had picked up a pencil that I thought I would have forgotten everything. I learnt that with art/creativity it’s something you never forget as it’s embedded from within, If you ever have the urge to pick up the paint and be creative again, then do it! Don’t let fear get the better of you.
Now to the exciting part! So Christmas Day came and it was time to deliver my drawing to my friend and his family. I was slightly nervous on what they would think.
To this day I will still remember the look on their faces. Their faces suddenly lit up and became overwhelmed with joy and elation.
It was a very hard time for their whole family but the feeling of being able to light up their faces in the way of which I did with my artwork has probably been one of the best feelings to date!
(My drawing of my friend's late father)
So much that it encouraged me to completely re-evaluate my career direction at the tender age of 20. Over the xmas holidays I began researching other artists and discovered that there was a whole world full on artists on instagram! It was then the penny dropped that not all artists can only make money once they’re dead and that I was going to do what makes me happy and become an artist! Through doing this portrait at such a delicate time, seeing and feeling their reactions inspired me into wanting to explore art further, and use art to inspire people. It was really at this stage that I had an epiphany. If I could affect people emotionally the way I did with art then I would 100% choose this direction over graphic design. I found meaning and purpose in art and couldn’t wait to explore it!
I mean I still had another year and a half of uni after this but I had decided to create an art instagram and attempt to get my work seen. I then started painting paintings around my hectic uni schedule. I would find it super relaxing and almost a therapeutic escape method from my manic back to back design projects.
Throughout uni I had always maintained a 3 day a week job as Dior beauty. Once I had graduated in 2016 I was instantly headhunted by numerous graphic design firms from my end of degree show! I attended the interviews because I was curious as to what the environment would be like.
I knew that I wasn’t ready to take on a design job and wanted to pursue art instead. In a way I self sabotaged myself at each and every interview by telling them that I had just started a new makeup job and undergone a costly training which meant that I would be tied in for the next 6 months. This was an absolute lie but I was so passionate to become an artist. I knew that If I went into a full time Job yes it would be more money but it would pull me away from art. This is a sacrifice/decision I made that i’ll never ever regret.
Fast forward to October 2018 I had always loved my job at Dior as I loved being creative with makeup and also selling/makes lots of money! But the time had come where I was no longer stimulated nor happy! I would have to force myself out of bed each morning It wasn’t anything to do with the brand it’s just that I felt I wasn’t fulfilling my purpose and so much more to give! I wanted freedom and most importantly to do what made me happy. I was extremely fearful as I had so many outgoings but one day after stocktake I decided I wasn’t ever going to do that again!
So I made the boldest decision to hand in my notice. It was almost now or never, if I didn’t do it then, I would just continue making up excuses to myself. I had absolutely no back up plan, I wasn’t really making any money from art BUT I had faith and believed in my abilities as an artist. Luckily they asked me not to leave and offered me one day a week, I accepted! This was enough to cover some bills and the rest meant that I had to get out there and fend for myself!
I believe that sometimes you have to put yourself under immense pressure in order to pull through. I was so comfortable before If I didn’t make that decision then I would probably still be there now applying lipstick on people.
By taking myself out of my comfort zone it pushed me to find a way and try every avenue because if I didn’t I would literally be dammed! It meant that I had to live a much simpler life. I worked in Dior Harrods where I was surrounded by luxuries and would earn amazing commission! It was hard resisting staff discount to buy these luxuries.
Instead I would bring home cooked food in everyday to save money and would keep my business cards in the back on my brush belt. Harrods was an amazing opportunity to connect with wealthy overseas clients. My first ever commission was to Dubai and then Qatar! Their houses were almost as big as Harrods itself!
Fast forward 8 months working 1 day a week, I had grown my business so much. I would work back to back each day doing everything! Social media marketing, painting the artwork, taking content with the artwork on my tripod and remote:-) , emails, packing and sending artwork! I was literally a machine and had no time to myself but it was starting to pay off ! I now had a studio as previously I had been painting out of my garage and in winter would have to wear about 4 layers to keep warm! I also had consistent online orders, meaning that I would end up spending most of my time packing orders. I then made the decision to give up my one day a week at Dior as I would be up from 6am packing orders until 9am and would then have to rush to work feeling exhausted before the day had even started.
(Me packing orders from my front room! before I had a studio)
I am now a full-time artist and am so grateful for every bold decision that I have ever made.
It’s not been an easy ride, but I’m still very much so at the beginning of my journey and am excited for what the future holds.
My journey so far has taught me how important it is to do what makes you happy! I didn’t always have all the support in the world when I spoke of becoming an artist but I’ve also learnt not to care what people think. In fact I vividly remember doing a lady’s makeup on the Dior counter and told her that I worked part time and wanted to become an artist. Her response was “Why would you want to become an artist, they don’t make money until their dead.” If I had cared about what she and every other person thought then I wouldn’t be where I am right now! I had very supportive family and friends and that's what mattered the most!
I hope you can all take inspiration and work towards doing what makes you happy. Even if it’s something as small as always wanting to do yoga classes but you can’t find the time. Find the time, make it happen and do it! Life’s honesty too short to not do what makes you happy!
I’m incredibly grateful for all of your support, my journey is only just beginning and I cannot wait to take you all this journey with me! Thank you all for helping me turn this dream of becoming an artist into reality!