“It’s good to step away from being creative sometimes. You can place way too much pressure on yourself as an artist.”
~ Dwayne Vance
In interviews, Dwayne Vance is chatty, friendly and full of infectious enthusiasm for making art. Yet, just a few years ago, he was staring at the empty page of a sketchbook feeling completely helpless and absolutely terrified.
Find out how he coped with creative depression in this week’s podcast…
Dwayne Vance is currently juggling freelance work for toy companies, the video games and extreme sports industries with his full-time role of design director at cycle clothing and protection company, Troy Lee Designs.
However, it was a completely different story a few yeas ago. Almost without warning, creative depression engulfed him like a huge gray cloud which threatened to end his creative career for good.
His story is one that will resonate with many artists. It’s also a timely reminder of how we can put ridiculous amounts of pressure on ourselves without realizing it.
Here’s how he took on creative depression and won…
What Causes Creative Depression?
“I’d had my own freelance business for about six years,” explains Dwayne. “I was working on all kinds of projects, such as toy designs, video game art and stuff for the extreme sports industry.”
While it’s great to be busy, many artists, Dwayne included, can often find this comes at a price. Long hours spent alone, completely immersed in your work, can sometimes take their toll. For Dwayne, the moment when his creative depression kicked in is one he’ll never forget.
“Because I’d got so much work on, I started to feel shut away from my family and friends and became very introverted. I also started to feel burned out. Then, one day, I was just about to start work on an assignment for a toy company who needed some drawings of cars.
“I sat down to start work and then it hit me. I just couldn’t do it. I loved drawing cars – in fact, it’s something I specialize in. Yet, here I was, feeling like I’d stepped back 20 years and started over again.
“I just thought, ‘What’s wrong with me?’ I had no motivation and didn’t want to be around people. I was also feeling anxious and even having panic attacks. It was like I had all the symptoms of depression.”
The Road to Recovery From Creative Depression
The first thing Dwayne did was go see his doctor, who carried out numerous tests. One of these revealed a Vitamin D deficiency – the result of not getting enough sunshine due to being cooped up indoors for weeks on end.
Not wishing to take anti-depressant drugs, Dwayne started researching Vitamin D deficiency and depression online and found a clear link between the two. From that moment on, he knew what to do.
“After taking Vitamin D supplements, I started to feel better almost immediately,” he says. The road to full recovery, however, would take a little longer.
How Dwayne Vance Beat Creative Depression
Dwayne managed to overcome his creative depression in several ways:
- As well as taking Vitamin D supplements, he also started eating better
- He made sure he took regular walks whenever he felt anxiety creeping in
- Most importantly, he spoke to other people about it and told them how he was feeling
It took around 12 months to fully recover. During this time, he took a full-time job to relieve some of the pressure of working freelance. He also worked out when his most creative times were, and worked his day around them.
“It’s good to step away from being creative sometimes” he says. “You can place way too much pressure on yourself as an artist, such as feeling you’ve got to constantly update your social media channels with new sketches etc. Now, I make sure I get out more, spend time with my friends and family, and take a break when I need to. I’ve finally learned it’s ok not to update your social media feed with a new sketch every single day!”
Dwayne’s story is one many of us can relate to. We’d love to hear your comments, so please feel free to get in touch using the box below.
Listen to this week’s show and learn:
- Why Creative Depression Can Affect Us All
- Why Taking a Break is Good For You and Your Art
- Why Artists Should Remember To Socialize
People on this Episode:
Mentioned in the episode:
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