ART | The struggles of identifying as your hobby.

Can I admit something to you? I find it incredibly hard to label myself when it comes to my hobby. Terms like illustrator, artist, character designers, I’m just not comfortable identifying as those just yet.

There’s something about labels that makes things feel so… official. And since I’m currently doing this art thing predominantly for fun, where there’s no income involved or group I’m apart of or published work to present, I almost feel like I’d be a fraud if I tried applying such labels to myself.

Is that normal? Or am I being just being crazy?

Originally I was going to say I’m an illustrator. Because in a way I think you could consider what I do here on the blog to be illustrative work. I create images to go with and help communicate some aspects of my post. (Well, not this post specifically, this is mostly one of those: look, here’s a bunch of random girls I drew out of magazines posts.) But does that really count? Most illustrators design for books and magazines. Official stuff. Group efforts. Published work. I don’t feel right putting myself with them.

And then there’s the term doodler. That’s what I usually go for because I feel it doesn’t hold as much weight; it doesn’t seem as serious. But that’s a lie, in a way, isn’t it? Doodles are scribbles or drawings done absent-mindedly. And believe me, my mind is fully involved when I create.

I even tried artist… but I can’t say that feels right either. Am I an artist? I create, yes. But in my mind I feel like artists are these deep thinkers who really work their thoughts into their artwork. In contrast, my work is so… surface-level. I draw things I think are pretty or that show snippets of my life. There’s really no secret messages involved. What you see is what you get.

I just don’t know. I’ve settled for creator because really, that’s what I do, create.

I do believe this is part of the growing process as a creator, though. At a certain point, it’s hard not to look at what you do and think: “is this just a hobby or is this something that is part of who I am?” And art isn’t just a hobby for me anymore. It’s a love, it’s a peace, it’s a joy. It’s something that I want to stay in my life, a staple in my day. Even if I don’t produce deep philosophical pieces or traditionally published work, I’m creating art that is growing with me and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So yeah, I’m a(n) illustrator doodler artist creator growing with her art because she loves it. I think that sounds about right.

And who knows, maybe someday I won’t struggle to identify as my hobby so much. Someday.

In the meantime, here are some of my thoughtless illustrations where I capture pretty girls from magazines. Enjoy.

Illustration of girl with flowers in her hair by Asti Stenning
Reference: “Flowers in the Attic” (p. 491) photographed by Willy Vanderperre from the March 2016 Vogue
Illustration of girls with flowers in her hair by Asti Stenning
Reference: “Loves me, Loves me Not” (p. 495) photographed by Willy Vanderperre from the March 2016 Vogue
Illustration of girl with lavender in her hair by Asti Stenning
Reference: “Lavender and Lace” (p. 489) photographed by Willy Vanderperre from the March 2016 Vogue
Illustration of girl with roses in her hair by Asti Stenning
Reference: “Heavy Petal” (p. 490) photographed by Willy Vanderperre from the March 2016 Vogue
Illustration of a girl with roses in her hair by Asti Stenning
Reference: “Gather Ye Rosebuds” (p. 497) photographed by Willy Vanderperre from the March 2016 Vogue
Illustration of girl with flowers in her hair by Asti Stenning
Reference: “Green Light” (p. 492) photographed by Willy Vanderperre from the March 2016 Vogue

Let’s Chat

What do you think? Have you ever come to that point where you’ve wondered if you should apply a label to yourself for a hobby you love and, if so, did it ever feel… uncomfortable? Whether it be author, illustrator, blogger, crafter, designer. Let me know in the comments below!

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15 thoughts on “ART | The struggles of identifying as your hobby.

  1. Whatever title you decide to go for (all fit you, in my opinion!) – I love your doodles, illustrations, artwork 😀


  2. Oh, I know this struggle far too well, though perhaps in a bit of a different context. Ever since my short film came out (& I was, for some odd reason, recognised for my acting work in it), I’ve been struggling with what sort of label to assign myself – poet, actress, artist, something in between? “Poet” is a label I’ve identified with for a long time, but now people are knowing me more for my essay (on the blog & in my chapbook) & acting (in the film) work, so I’m not really quite sure where I fit now that I’m more of a multi/interdisciplinary creator. I think perhaps some of the loveliness exists in the confusion of it, though, no? What a lovely, thought-provoking post, Asti – thank you so much for sharing with us. xox


    1. I agree, I think there is something beautiful about the confusion in regards to trying to sort out your label. In a way it helps you appreciate the nuance of words more and also marvel at how you can be so many different things at once. I do think it’s interesting your situation in particular has sort of split you between different forms of creation as well. I think I’ll always initially see you as a poet, but I can see how someone who wasn’t aware of you until your short film would see you as an actress (and a good one at that)! Thanks for sharing your thoughts Topaz ❤


  3. I can’t imagine wearing any of those outfits, but I love your drawings of them!

    I agree with Inge. 🙂

    You could add “amateur” before whichever title you choose, but I always think it comes with a negative connotation. I just checked the official definition, and while one is neutral and accurate (someone who does an activity for pleasure, rather that for professional or financial reasons), the other is the one I tend to think of when I hear the word: a person unskilled at something. Just because you aren’t making money off your artwork doesn’t make it any less meaningful!


    1. I haven’t thought of using amateur. I did recently consider aspiring though. Like an aspiring illustrator? I think that would make me feel a bit better because it acknowledges that I haven’t quite met the standards of what I deem to be an illustrator, but that I am actively working towards it. 🙂


  4. It has taken me a lot of years to finally be able to say “I’m a writer.” And even still I can’t get myself to say things like, “May I ask you a question about _____? You see, I’m a writer, and…” I’m just not at that comfort level yet. But I’ve been assured over and over that if I write, I’m a writer, even if I don’t get paid for it. I won’t call myself an author until I get a book deal. But I can say yes, I am a writer and aspiring author, because that is a big part of my life and what I do.


    1. I think that aspiring part is the thing I’ve been missing. I think I’d like the term illustrator if I added aspiring in front of it, similar to yourself and aspiring author. Once published and whatnot, then I can remove it, but not until then. It is weird how awkward it can be to accept those labels though. Hopefully as time goes we’ll get more confident with it!


  5. I love your style SO MUCH I CAN’T EVEN. The one with the flowers in her hair is INCREDIBLE. 😍😍

    Also I do get the worry about labels! I’ve kind of learned to take whatever label I want now, when it comes to the art life, because there shouldn’t be lines drawn between, like, a “paid” artist or not. You know? Like why is your art any less important or awesome than someone who sells theirs?!? I definitely call myself an author even though I don’t have a book published! Howeverrrrr I still do understand the worry because the other day someone called me a “big blogger” and I was like “no wait, I am a tiny smol bean still and don’t deserve that title”.😂😂 So I think we can totally put limits on ourselves accidentally haha. But when it comes to art, if you do art: I think you get to call yourself an artist!! I think even just bloggers who simply blog and nothing else are still artists, because they’re still creating. :’)

    Such an amazing post, Asti! I love your blog so much omg.


    1. I’m not surprised you like the one with flowers in her hair. It’s like she splashed around in one of your Instagram photos. 😉

      And I agree! I actually find it funny because I’m more willing to apply some of these labels to others than myself… but why? Why do I automatically put them above me? I need to kick my self-confidence up a notch!

      That’s funny about you feeling uncomfortable about the big blogger thing. I mean geesh Cait, you always talk about being royalty and your readers following your master plans, surely you are comfortable with your empire being one of the largest in the book blogosphere?


  6. Hi Asti!! I’ve been checking out your new blog since you started it and have to say… I’m really loving your drawings/stories! Keep them coming.
    (and I don’t thing the labels matter much, if anything, either. the most important is that you enjoy what you are doing here, on paper, and you clearly do… it’s a bit like how I mostly blog about travel now, but the label Travel Blogger still feels off, I “just” like traveling and sharing my photos/stories)


    1. Aw, thanks Cayce! It’s funny because I agree about labels. I tend to never care about them in relation to anyone else, but for some reason they seemed to bother me in relation to me. I’m not sure why. I guess because at some point I want what I do to be taken seriously and feel like self-identifying is the first step? But still, I’m happy even without the label and you’re right, that’s all that really matters!

      Thanks for stopping by! I don’t think I saw that you had a new travel-focused blog so I’ll have to check that out! Such posts are always so fun but also always make me itch to go on an adventure – which is no good since I currently have no money! haha.


  7. I totally get what you’re saying. I don’t labels as a rule, but the ones like blogger, writer, and in your case artist and illustrators are ones we can be easily proud of. The thing is they come with expectations. I think there’s no harm in self-proclaiming yourself as these things because you don’t need anyone’s validation. It means what you want it to mean, or otherwise it’s just not fun.



    1. I agree! I do think the expectations that we associate with such labels can make them seem intimidating, but really it is up to us to decide how we want to present ourselves!

      And thanks! I’m still trying to determine exactly what my style is, but I’m enjoying the journey so far! 🙂


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