Journal Entry - April 16, 2022 - Artist Labels & Finding Inspiration

Journal entry - April 16, 2022

I genuinely find being an artist is so strange sometimes. I have to admit, it took me years to be comfortable with that word, because I don’t always feel my art is *good enough* or fancy enough. Whether it’s stickers or earrings or doodles or painting… I’m still not always comfortable calling it ART… but I’m trying to work on telling myself that I am literally creating something new out of nothing, so it’s not that wild to embrace leaning into the word. If you make something, I feel like you are the only one who has the right to give that process a name, and other peoples opinions don’t matter. You can call yourself a maker or an artist or a creator or a doodler or ANYTHING- whatever word fits with YOUR vision. 

In addition to trying to put less pressure on myself to confirm to the traditional “artist” label, I am also letting myself explore all the different styles I want without being afraid of not being consistent or cohesive. Part of what makes my artistic process enjoyable is experimenting, and I don’t want to limit myself. Maybe one day I’ll find *the style* I love best, but for now, I’m enjoying playing around with any and all materials I can get my hands on. It’s hard to channel that freedom into a business, but I’m learning to adapt my work into different products or tools for other makers and making what I love work for me. 

With that being said, I have not turned on my laser in two weeks- which is the longest I’ve gone since 2020 and it has been kind of discouraging. It’s partially from feeling uninspired, and partially from being super sick and miserable.

For the past week, I’ve pretty much been living in my office on my futon trying to recover from this awful sickness (not Covid or the flu, thankfully!) and I had not been sleeping well because of my cough. John told me absolutely no work until I finally got some sleep, whether it’s my day job or creative things. After FINALLY getting a few hours of decent sleep this afternoon, I cleaned my studio and sat down to draw some new file designs - and I literally couldn’t think of anything. 

I scrolled for a while and came across some adorable goldfish earrings. I had wanted to do fishbowl shakers a bit ago and never got around to it, but these were cuter than what I had been thinking of and finally I felt like drawing my version. I drew a stylized engraving design for a gold fish, but didn’t love it, so I chose a betta fish instead because I think they’re beautiful and can have so many fun colors. 

I vectored my design and mocked up my earrings and even though they ended up not meeting my vision, a wave of inspiration finally struck!! I have been following Ruby on Instagram and she does these absolutely stunning portrait tattoo designs. She had recently done a zodiac series, and I figured I could try and do my own take and turn my beta fish into a gorgeous mermaid-y Pisces lady! 

Portraits are something I really struggle with but I want to get better at them. And what better way to do that then to dive right in to a new project?!

I started by sketching my outline with the “hb pencil” brush (under sketching) and then once I was happy with it I added another layer for my outlines and used the “studio pen” brush (under inking) to refine them. 

My favorite part of this lady is her wild wavelike curls - I really wanted to channel the ocean and movement, just like in the fishes’ fins. 

Black outline of a portrait of a woman with big curly hair and two betta fish swimming in her hair as though it were waves. Her eyes do not have pupils and she has dramatic lashes. There is a watermark of the Samantha’s Doodles logo.

While I love the outline by itself, I found online that Pisces colors are lavender and ocean green and it felt too good to pass up, so I colored her in. I used the “studio pen” brush and blended with the “Gaussian blur” tool and the “soft airbrush” selection under the blending brushes.


Colored version of the same digital portrait. Woman has cool toned brown skin and blueish green hair and white eyes. The fish are purple.

I am really pleased with how this turned out, even if I don’t ever use her for anything. It broke my creative block and I feel like I did something productive and fun that wasn’t too hard on my body while I’m trying to rest.

Maybe I’ll even laser her and try coloring it with my colored pencils- I used to LOVE working with pencil on wood but haven’t tried it in a while!!

Anyway, I guess the point of this long rambling note is that you can find inspiration ANYWHERE (even from cartoon goldfish earrings🤪) and it’s okay to embrace experimenting. Art can be whatever you want it to be, and I feel like as long as you get something out of the experience that’s all that matters. 


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