My heart never stopped quietly whispering to me that I needed to create.
Name, Age, Location, Professional Title, Employer
Tori Press, 36, in Los Angeles, California. I am a self-employed cartoonist.
What hobbies do you have outside of your professional field that keep you inspired and motivated to generate personal work? How do they inspire you?
I have so many hobbies, and wish I had time for more. I play the piano, I garden (I’m more of an indoor gardener and have a giant collection of houseplants, but I also love my succulent and California native plant gardens), I practice yoga and meditation, I read, I see the band Phish as often as I can when they’re on tour, I adore thrift shopping. I believe hobbies are really important to doing creative work—I almost never experience inspiration when I’m staring at a blank page, but my hobbies let me experience the world, myself, even the joy of creative flow in different ways and contexts and inspiration often comes from there.
Do you have a hard time balancing being a creative professional and generating personal work that you're proud of?
During my first creative job as a freelance graphic designer I did, so much so that I became entirely burned out and had to shut down my business and stop doing creative work for clients. After 10 years of doing work I loved and having clients alter it (which is totally expected and very much part of the job!), it felt refreshing and freeing to begin creating art just for myself and sharing it with the world. Now I’m at a point where I’d like to create more of a business with the work I share on Instagram, and am committed to spending a little time drawing every day for myself. Some of those drawings are for Instagram, but some remain just for me.
What time of day do you feel the most creative? What about the most productive?
I feel most creative in the evenings, and I usually get a rush of energy then too that helps me be more productive, but that window typically gets missed because of other constraints on my time. I’m a mom of two elementary-aged girls, so the evenings are reserved for time spent with them and my husband. I typically work in the mornings, while my kids are at school, which isn’t my favorite time but it’s the time that works best. I do try to jot down the ideas I get at night so I can work on them the next day.
What are your creative goals for the future?
I’m honestly not sure. Right now I just want to keep drawing and keep growing as a creative person. I touch a lot on mental health in my drawings and that’s because I have suffered from generalized anxiety disorder my entire life. It creeps into all of my endeavors, including my work, where it manifests as self-censorship and fear that my work and ideas aren’t any good. My current creative goal is to push through the barrier of self-censorship and just create, create, create, regardless of how my work turns out or how I think it will be received. I’ve found that as long as I keep showing up for creative work, it keeps getting better, I keep growing, and new aspirations keep revealing themselves to me, so I want to stay on this path and see what happens.
Are you working on any personal projects right now? If so, can you share a little bit about your inspiration and your creative process?
I’m not, but I’d like to. I have a cartoonist friend (the fabulous Liesbeth Ton with Betje.com) that has a doodle journal—she spends about 30 minutes every evening doodling about her day, with no intent to share the work with the world (though she does sometimes). It’s just for her. I’d like to start that project, and maybe someday soon I will, but my rampant perfectionism has been getting in my way (what if I start but can’t keep it up? what if I don’t know what to draw? what if, what if, what if?)
What scares you?
Not being in control.
Which is extremely silly, as none of us is in control. Sometimes we buy into the illusion that we have full control over our lives, but we don’t, not really.
What does success mean to you?
Growing up, success was a measurable thing—it meant having a particular income, a marriage, a family, a certain kind of house or car or wardrobe. That’s such a false definition of success and unfortunately so many people still buy into it. Success is about self actualization. Success means you are fulfilled, producing work you are proud of, living in the best way you know how, and hopefully shining your light to illuminate the path for others while you’re doing it.
Why do you create?
I create because I have to. In my bones, I have to draw, I have to make art, I have to express myself. I knew this as a child and I allowed myself to be told that art isn’t valuable or lucrative, that other career paths are smarter and more stable to choose. So I chose a different career path and wandered along it for many, many years, but my heart never stopped quietly whispering to me that I needed to create. It’s always been there and I just had to listen to the voice, to surrender to it.
Anything else you want to add?
I would add the greatest lesson I have learned from making and sharing art, which is that: whatever you are going through in your life—however wacky or uncomfortable it might feel, however isolated you may think you are—you are not the only one. And if you are so bold as to share about your experiences, whether through art or music or writing or whatever form of expression you prefer—you will be shocked at how many people there are out there who are just. like. you.