• Peter Marsh

Frustrated Artist.

After my degree I kinda ran out of steam. Having a stroke and brain haemorrhage at the age of nine and having to take a year out of school -which was a massive set back mentally and physically- affected my education and personal life drastically. As a result of this, I had to work a lot harder than my peers to get back on track. Nevertheless, missing over a year of school work and being brain damaged didn't stop me from achieving a 2:1 level degree by the age of 21. I do think it was inevitable that sooner or later I would burnout.

When people who knew me when I was studying asked me what I was doing now, there was this expectation for me to say some awesome, 'glamorous', exciting thing but when I replied with retail work, they'd look at me like I was an idiot (probably rightly so looking back). It would make me feel like such a loser. Of course I realised that wasn't the type of work for me but it was a job that kept me ticking over and I never planned on staying there. But there weren't many opportunities in Leeds for the work I wanted to do and I didn't have the money to move out so I felt trapped. After a while, the creative in me was going insane and making me feel worthless. I often thought, "all that work, all that grit and drive for this shit? What are you doing, Peter Marsh? You used to be amazing but now you're just average in a job you don't even like".

When I finished working there I looked back on my fashion portfolio and it wasn't representing what I can do to the best of strength, and the presentation was below par. Redoing parts, editing others and adding additional projects, pretty much scrapping the original portfolio, I still wasn't impressed. It wasn't something I was proud of but, foolish of me, I never showed it to anyone to get a second opinion. I just thought if I didn't believe in myself, if I wasn't confident in my work, how am I suppose to sell myself in interviews?

Because I'd had a break, I was panicking in case I had forgotten my skills. Worried that I couldn't create any quality work independently- I had some help with construction and help with the theory during my time in education, what if I'm just useless? Afraid I became irrelevant. Paranoid people were just blowing smoke up my arse when they used to say "you will be big one day", whatever that meant.

But I felt being creative and being a fashionista was all I had to offer and was all I was good at, without that I didn't know who I was and felt like nothing. I didn't just want a creative job, I needed one to keep me sane and at peace.

My confidence took a massive hit and I had this crippling self doubt, constantly thinking will I ever be good enough? A year or two before I had so much self belief, surrounded by positive, creative people. Feeling like a rockstar. I needed to be that person again. He was awesome, I felt like a shell of that boy. Looking back on that person made me feel even worse. I felt like such a disappointment. I felt like I was disappointing everyone but especially myself. I wish someone would have took me to one side and told me no one expects you to be perfect or even great at 22/23 and hardly anyone knows what they're doing, they just look like they do. Everyone's winging it. I wasted so much time and energy being frustrated and angry with myself.

Every year since my stoke I had overcome or achieved something, smashing exceptions but I didn't feel like I had done after 2014/2015. I didn't have direction, no one around me was inspiring me. I felt stuck in a rut and had the feeling of going backwards. I needed to get right and feel great again. The easiest way I could do that was to start creative stuff again. Working independently, expanding and elaborating on old projects, perfecting and developing my craft and my skills, teaching myself new ones, researching further, defining my style, creating a blog and getting my online presence up to a standard that I was proud of, and also just pure creative vomiting, doing now and thinking later to get it out of my system.

This painting depicts how I was feeling at the time. I call it 'A Narcissist Gagging On His Own Mediocre Creativity' based on this photography 'That One Kid That Eats Crayons'.

"That One Kid That Eats Crayons" by Peter Marsh 2015. Photographed by Natalie Marsh.

This painting depicts how I was feeling at the time. I call it 'A Narcissist Gagging On His Own Mediocre Creativity' based on this photography 'That One Kid That Eats Crayons'.

Social media can be a really beneficial tool to promote your talent but it can be soul destroying if you compare yourself to everyone else. I went through a period of doing this and it's destructive. It was making me feel like shit so I unfollowed everyone on my Instagram then followed only the accounts I admire. I'd also get mad at other creatives or just other people in general with huge followings who get more praise and attention for less talent who aren't that interesting. One day I thought why does it bother me? Why do I care? Why am I bitter about it? I'm not part of their flock of sheep so why am I even following them? It's not the individual that really annoys me anyway, it's the hype. But it's a waste of time and energy scrolling through their photos. It distracted my focus from what was important, and it wasn't making me happy.

In the hopes of being happy again I spent a lot of money on superficial things. Updated my wardrobe to get back to the fashion boy I am, I had many makeovers and I decorated my bedroom to emulate my ultimate aesthetic. This was project in itself. I am a very visual person and decor and fashion really affect my mood. If I wake up in a bland place everyday, it makes me miserable and uninspired. And if my outfit doesn't look put together, interesting or cute, it bothers me. I am extremely materialistic but I don't think there is anything wrong with that. It's better than walking around being gloomy, affecting other people's moods or using a substance to escape the sadness. I decorated my room with light pink walls, have my shoe and hat collection on shelves, interacting and responding with my collection of dolls, unicorns and other cute collectable toys. Accents of lime green to add vibrance and black gloss to contract the pink, complement the green making the room look striking with more of an adult look rather than a baby girl. I wanted it to look as whimsical as possible using door knobs from Alice in Wonderland and an oversized yellow money box to give it that excitement. Tying it all together so it has the fashion and the otherworldly look is a metre high vintage looking mirror adding more glamour and taking away some of that childlike quality. It really did shift my mood but of course this is only a temporary fix and it wasn't just for the bedroom's sake. I'm planning on doing a few photo shoots here using it as a set.

However, living in this bubble wasn't ideal. I became a bit of a recluse in this creative ket hole, with a constant list of things I needed to do. I wasn't seeing even some of my closest friends or family, I would cancel plans, I didn't even want to go out. I used to be such a social butterfly but now I only have a select few friends I manage to stay in contact with and that's no fault of my friends. I became distant, I felt embarrassed or even ashamed at times. I reverted back into this shy creative boy I was as a child and a teenager, not quite sure what I was doing or why I was doing it. I just felt the need to.

But asking myself, is it projects that will develop into a business? Is it practise? Is it to prove to myself what I can do? Is it proving to others what I can do? Is it a waste of time? Is it just procrastination? Is it developing a body of work for a portfolio to show clients what I can do working freelance? Is it developing a portfolio to show in job interviews? Is it a hobby? Is it good? Is there a point? Am I going insane? Is it a distraction? Am I ok? What kind of artist am I? What kind of artist do I want to be? Is it fashion, fine art, textiles, graphic design, illustration, cartoonist, character creation, live performance art pieces, set design, prop design, blogging, I've covered it all.

Now I'm not certain what I'm gonna do first but I have more of an idea where I'm going.

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