KAB.N! Interview with Allison Perry

Allison Perry: Self portrait

1. Who are you and how long have you been working as an artist?
My name is Allison Perry and I’m currently a visual development artist for feature at Netflix. I started studying art as a career around 2011-2012 and I’ve worked as a full-time artist since 2016.

2. How do you personally define art block? How often do you get art block?
Since art has become less of a hobby and more of a job, I’m honestly kind of unsure how to define art block. As I’ve come to understand art as a product as much as a means of expression, art block almost seems like a privilege – at least from the perspective of someone who does art for a living. Something people really don’t tell you about doing art as a career is it changes your relationship with it. It’s not all bad – it’s just different. 

That being said, I think with social media, people feel increasingly pressured to create more content, more frequently, which isn’t healthy or sustainable. Sometimes art block is just your body telling you to take a break or do something else, and I think you should listen to that instead of trying to fight it. 

If you’re experiencing it a lot, though, I think it’s worth sitting down and really asking yourself why that’s happening. Art block is more a symptom than it is an issue in itself. If you want to overcome it, you have to address the root cause.

Art by Allison Perry

3. What are some specific strategies you employ when dealing with art block?
First, be patient with yourself. A lot of art block is just needing to take a break and/or find inspiration elsewhere. Watch a movie, go outside, look at some of your favorite artists’ work. Drawing all the time is like driving without ever filling up for gas – you can either choose to stop before you hit empty or be forced to stop when you finally do.

However, if you experience art block frequently, I think you should examine why. Whether it’s just needing a break or something else, art block is almost always the symptom of something else. Are you not enjoying what you’re working on? Is there something else you’d rather be doing? Do you feel anxiety about something? Are you putting too much of your self-worth into your work? I think you’ll find if you address the underlying issue, the art block itself usually clears up.

Art by Allison Perry

4. Describe the biggest obstacle / challenge you’ve encountered working as an artist and how you overcame it.
So far, the most frustrating part of my career was the stage where everyone was saying “your work is good enough to get a job,” and yet I wasn’t getting any offers. Talking to my peers, I think most young professionals go through a period like this. Coming from 12+ years of structured education where the criteria for success is clearly laid out, it’s hard to understand that sometimes “good enough” just isn’t enough. School prepares you for a type of meritocracy that doesn’t exist, and coming to terms with that is perhaps even scarier than accepting a huge part of getting a job is completely out of your control. There are no “3 (or any other number of) easy steps” to guarantee getting a job, and honestly I believe anyone who claims there are is probably lying to try to sell them to you. 

The one through-line of all success is persistence, though. You have to just keep trying, keep growing, and really exercise not investing your self-worth in your employability. Most people are conditioned throughout school to think they need a job to validate their worth, and unlearning that takes immense time and effort. I think artists in particular tend to wrap their self-worth up in their craft, and that can bring you a lot of pain when it feels like no one will hire you. You need to have interests and an identity outside of your work.

Art by Allison Perry

5. Where can we see more of your work online?
You can find me on most social media platforms as @allisonperryart and my portfolio at https://www.allisonperryart.com/