This follows on from a conversation and reply with comments.deviantart.com/21/388…
(I initially wrote half of this as a reply, then realised it was way too long. Even as a journal, this is a long one, so feel free to skip or skim. )
Back when I was first on DA I wondered if I was going to end up being an art teacher. I'd thought about it on and off for a while, and was back studying illustration at college. This was before I knew I could have manias, obviously I have abandoned that now. But I was really interested in contemporary art, (and I felt your collages were very now with a retro twist - you were ahead of the game by a few years there,) and I also had realised that while I loved drawing and painting women in various styles, that I had been unintentionally creating art that would appeal only to men. I was in the grip of a mania btw. I'm amazed I lasted out a two year course, even if I missed out on a couple of units.The people in the class made working really difficult, (sometimes it was like every bad teen movie you ever saw),and I increasingly worked from home - DA was a lifeline in the first year. (I developed some ties with people in the class a year behind me, and ended working on their class days a lot to avoid working in my own class. Thats how bad it was...)
DA didnt just let me get reassurance on the standard of my better work, it let me connect with people that I knew were intelligent and creative. An unexpected bonus was that by trying to be nice and supportive I actually connected with young people that I would never normally get a chance to speak to. And I knew that some of them, including you,  would probably go on to do big things. I also knew that a lot of my younger DA friends were in touch with things that were actually really cool, but I didnt know about.Actually at times I kinda got to pretend I was half my age, and that was really nice, because I'm actually prone to being down beat and having black moods. (You probably noticed some of my crazier journals.) I learned about anime, and plz icons, , and through speaking to a group of younger DA friends I was able to reconnect with the world in a fresher way. I dont mean to make this sound like all my friends were a test group, although they were a test of everything I did. For instance, if I put up a nude and only men liked it I thought it had pretty much failed, even if it was a good piece, because I think the greatest artists go beyond gender. Female artists can be very bold, male artists can be very subtle, etc. The greatest artists of either gender can appeal to both, basically.And you know, there were times when things were kind of shit for me. I actually really enjoyed seeing younger people taking on lifes hurdles and winning. In my life success at anything isnt a guarantee, and everything feels like a greater risk than it is to other people. I've failed at a lot of things.
***Its funny to realise that you're thirty six and still trying to shrug of the bullshit mould society wanted to put you in. I suspect thats a fight I'll be having for the rest of my life.But on balance a lot of the people I was closest to, in DA and in life, were female, and were all either highly intelligent or creative, and non-conformist in a way that doesnt have to make a statement (when I was younger I always felt that I did..), and I was often a little jealous that the single decade between my birth and theirs opened up freedoms to them, regarding the world and their place in it. Because there's still this part of me left over from the eighties and nineties that says "Being a man isnt enough, YOU HAVE TO BE MANLY", and I try desperately to keep that crap out of my art. And my wardrobe. And my life. I try to avoid people like that too.
I've been absent for a long time because being diagnosed with a cycle of insomnia and depression, (back in 2010...) that you'll never be entirely free from puts a damper on your life. I also discovered that for ever person who attends a support group seeking help there's one who's there to be surrounded by mental people, and behave in a mental way. I have been both people. My life changed from a cycle of heaven and hell to a flat black purgatory, and I discovered that some people with the same condition behave worse after diagnosis. Now I have a better idea of who to stay away from at least.
Five years have passed in this slow blur - it felt like everything I had chosen to do had been taken away, impacted badly on my personal life, and left me isolated. I have struggled with DA, its became a symptom of how little work I've actually got done in these years. Thats basically why I havent been here.
But back to the original train of thought. It has benefited me to see so many people grow up and go on with their lives. You have to understand that when I joined DA I had lost my mother, it felt like my family was growing smaller, and as yet there had been no new births to balance things out. It was nice to know that life went on elsewhere, uninterrupted. That young people were taking on big challenges, and making the most of the world.
It was nice to be able to offer encouragement. It was good to feel accepted on the basis of my art, and not be judged on the roller coaster of my life. It was especially good for me to see that sometimes the next generation on the way up had things right, and there was less posturing, (at least among the people I talk too,) and not only were they not put in boxes, they didnt need to put themselves in boxes in order to feel comfortable with their gender, or sexuality, or beliefs.
It was good to have my outlook challenged.
And, you know, DA was kind of my third and last regression. (I've kinda had a vicarious uni experience at ST Andrews, my gf attended and I got to do the student stuff without attending uni.. and the last attempt at college will probably be my last attempt at full time education. But who knows?) Anyhow, I was just young enough to interact with younger people in hopefully an amusing and interesting way. Now I feel that I could offer encouragement, and advice on technique, but I'm maybe too old now to bridge that gap again. I'm not saying I wont respond to younger watchers or anything, but the first couple of years on DA I met a few young people, and I was just young enough to still connect on many issues. Since then I've had a lot of growing up to do - I've had to rethink my entire life in the context of someone who cant be expected to live a normal life. That really ages you - it takes you further and further from the optimism of youth. I've had to accept the experience of loss in a more adult way. Most young people couldnt relate to that, although I feel very sorry for those who can.
Anyway, I'm back, I guess. For now I'm still getting things back together. I'm hoping to reconnect with my friends who are still here, although in the short term I'm still pretty much just reading the odd journals by the people who also watch me, and kind of curating my favs museum.
I'm in an odd place. Its not that there has been no improvement, its just that I havent moved forward commercially/career wise, because my health, mental health, and personal life have all been damaged by the long term affects of a disorder, and also there was a lot of damage done by med side effects.
I'm trying to take responsibility for myself back again. While I have been struggling with my demons, I have been really happy to see young watchers that I knew from their high school days go through college, or uni, or sometimes command massive respect and armies of fans here on DA. I've been able to look out from this bad place and see other people taking the world on and winning.
I think I've went on enough for now. I'm writing this at the end of a few weeks of hell, and I'm not ready to talk about it yet. If ever.
I have no answers as to where my life is going, and nothing to add that cant wait for another journal. What I'll say in brief is that I am working towards basically a rebrand and relaunch with improved content, 3d stuff from the fandoms I'm part of, (there are several), re-upload of old art that survives the cull with better photo quality, a wix/weebly site, and maybe a facebook page for my art as well. I will also be dedicating myself to producing a wider variety of content. (Calling it things like "rebrand" And "relaunch" lets me pretend its not just stuff I should have been doing all along.)
I thought I'd do a name check of some of the people that have been with me since the early days. If I wrote about why I follow each person and what I like about their art I'll end up doing another journal, so I'm just posting icons.
Further links would maybe just lead to dead accounts, or friends that arent normally interested in this kind of journal.
I'm sorry I dont always reply to every comment. I have some in my inbox that are a couple of years old now, because I didnt know how to engage a subject or was just too tired to figure out what to say. I hope everyone is doing well.