Where to Go From Here?

Hello, folks!

June was an unexpectedly busy month for me! I made a design for my workplace’s Pride group event, and folks liked it so much that they requested I make a sticker for it. Credit to the Progress Pride Flag goes to Daniel Quasar of quasar.digital, and I got permission from him to use his flag in my design! That was super cool of him. So I did that, and then the sticker led to a friend suggesting I table my work at a local Pride event, which I also did! Whew!

Pride 50th Anniversary web image
You can purchase it here, if you’d like! 25% of profits will be donated to GLSEN.org!

Now it’s July, and I have no idea how it got here so fast. It’s already July 10th as well! Heck! Is this what getting old is like? Time literally flying by without my realizing it? On a related note, I just realized that ten years ago, I was twenty. That kinda blew my mind, and then I stopped thinking about it too hard.

So where do I go from here? I’m in this weird, post-busyness limbo of having a million ideas, but no real sense of direction or order of operations. I’m notoriously bad at completing things without deadlines or folks to help keep me accountable to my personal goals. The deadlines of my book, Free Comic Book Day, and Pride all helped me stay on task and get lots of work done. Now that I don’t have those things, it’s up to me to impose those deadlines on myself.

First, I have to ask myself what I want to work on. In my last post, I said I wanted to make a regular habit of art streams, blogs, comics, and YouTube videos. Welp, then I joined in on a tableing event last-minute and scrambled to get that together and everything flew out the window. That tends to happen to me a lot! Knock on wood that July is a bit more chill. I do want to get back into those things, but I’ve had a hard time finding focus. What do I want to make videos about? What do I want to write blogs and comics about? How do I even Twitch?

I think I need to spend some time journaling and really think about what I want to get out of making work, what I want to put into the world, and what my goals are with those works. I get so caught up in fussing over the process of making things (what’s my format? how often do I post? what’s a consistent style that’s easy to produce quickly?) that I forget the why of making things. I feel like once I have my motivations and broader goals clearly defined, I’ll have more of a drive to work and a clearer understanding of my order of operations.

Thanks for sticking with me! Keep an eye out, new things will be coming your way soon!

Katie

Excited, Nervous Energy

Friends.

FRIENDS.

I MADE A BOOK.

Book
IT’S A REAL BOOK HOLY CARP

I printed and self-published this with BookBaby.com, and I’m so incredibly happy with the result! “Making Faces at Myself” is a collection of the illustrations and comics I made for last year’s 100 Day Project. I have a tab on this site with more information, if you’re interested!

I’m still kind of in shock! I’ve been going full-steam-ahead for months now (as is evident by the cobwebs around this blogosphere) getting things ready for my table on Free Comic Book Day, and now that everything’s done I’ve got something like creative whiplash. I’m dazed, confused, and unsure of what my next steps are. Sooo I’ve kind of been doing everything!

I put the book up for sale on my Etsy shop, as well as some prints and a zine that I made for Free Comic Book Day. I made myself a Patreon page with a few fun dragon-themed tiers (going to add rewards later!). I’m working on setting up a Twitch channel and streaming setup in my studio space so I can do monthly streams. I’ve got a handful of other things I’m working on as well, but these have been my main focus.

…Of course, I have plenty of bookkeeping to do after Free Comic Book Day, buuut I’ve been putting that off for reasons pertaining to math and my animosity towards it.

You may have noticed that I also redesigned this portfolio site of mine! I hope you like it, I had fun rearranging it and sprucing everything up. I’m going to work on being more intentional with this site and update this blog more often. I know, I know, “How often has she said that before?” It’s very possible that I’ll end up falling off the face of the earth again. I’ve got a full-time job aside from my creative pursuits, and until I can afford to leave that job this will always be a possibility. But I can promise you that I will always do my best to stick to my creative goals!

What are those goals, you ask? In the coming months, I’m hoping to have a more regular schedule of internet things. I’m going to update this blog and my Patreon biweekly, I’m going to begin my biweekly journal comic, I’m going to return to posting biweekly YouTube videos, and I’m going to start doing art livestreams on Twitch every third Saturday of the month. I’m excited! Nervous, but excited. Lots of things are happening, folks! I can’t wait to see how it all shakes out!

Love and peace to you,

Katie

Self-Portraits

When young artists start drawing self-portraits, they most often pay attention to what’s on the paper rather than what’s in the mirror. Their drawings are a reflection of what’s in their mind’s eye. It takes a lot of training to learn to trust what the artist is seeing in front of them rather than what the mind is telling them.

The same is true of myself when I started drawing self-portraits; I had an internal visualization of myself that was much more idealized than how I actually looked. That is to say, I did not draw myself as the plus-size, round-faced person that I am. After quite a few people and professors telling me that my self-portraits didn’t look like me, I started avoiding drawing self-portraits altogether. I didn’t want to come to terms with my fatness because it was (and still is) a primary aspect of myself that I hated. I loved art – why would I sully that enjoyment with struggling to represent myself as I really am?

I believe I’ve had low-key depression for most of my life, but in recent years it really put in the effort to make sure I knew it was there. During that time, my hatred of my body was dialed up to 200%, and if I even glanced in a mirror on the wrong kind of day I would fall into a horrible spiral of self-deprecation and self-loathing. I drew a lot of journal comics around that time so the awful feelings would have somewhere to go. The problem then was that I had to draw myself again.

13. Thirteen
From my 100 Day Project in 2018

Some days were fine, and I would draw myself as just kinda chubby and large, but never cute or beautiful. I couldn’t even conceptualize what a beautiful fat person would look like, let alone myself. On bad days I was incredibly vicious. I have some sketchbooks with pages of grotesquely exaggerated figures with bloated faces, drooping stomachs, and flabby limbs.

It was around this time that I discovered the artist Sarah Winifred Searle, a wonderful illustrator and comic creator who primarily draws plus-size characters. I had never seen fatness so lovingly and beautifully rendered before, and it blew me away.

I read her comic, “Fatness, Femininity, and the Media We Deserve” that she created for The Nib, and I saw my own experiences reflected in hers. What differed was that she had chosen to reject society’s treatment of fat people as jokes or as villains and to create work that celebrated unique bodies. This in particular struck me as powerful:

“Associative learning is a real thing. Our culture had assigned me negative net value as a fat queer woman, and I had believed it for a long time. I had to build myself a new environment to teach myself otherwise.”

When I started the 100 Day Project last year, my goal was to learn to draw myself honestly and without vitriol. Sarah’s artwork and mission was a big inspiration for that. I wanted to unlearn what our culture had taught me and to learn how to appreciate the body that works so hard for me every day. As I grew more comfortable drawing myself over the course of the hundred days, I had fewer and fewer periods of body-focused self hate. I still had bad days here and there, but I also had plenty of days where I drew my fatness as a cute, endearing aspect rather than a revolting aspect. I can’t begin to tell you how healing that was for me.

IMG_20190227_151930_233
A recent self-portrait on a day that I was feeling pretty cute!

I think I’ll always struggle with my body image. My disgust towards my body is so deeply ingrained into my psyche at this point that I don’t know what it would take to get rid of it. Counselling is definitely helping, and the anti-depressant I take has been wonderful in giving me the ability to climb out of the negative spirals I still sometimes find myself in. For now, I’m going to continue using my art to build an environment to teach myself that I have value.

Peace and love,

Katie

YouTube and Accountability

Hey, folks!

Did you know I have a YouTube channel? I have a YouTube channel! I tried to do Vlogmas this past year, but goodness did I underestimate how much work goes into making videos. Particularly since the videos I wanted to make were less vlog-y and more informational, which requires research and scripting and more time than I had on my hands. Maybe someday I’ll get back to them, I had some really interesting ideas!

For now I’ve decided to use my vlogs as a form of accountability. I am someone who has a hard time sticking to things unless I’m prompted or encouraged. It’s so much easier to give excuses like “Eh, I don’t have enough time right now” or “I’ll do it later, I’ve got plenty of time tomorrow” and instead spend my time on video games and Twitter. Unfortunately, all my friends and my dear husband have said they are also terrible at accountability, so I can’t ask them to hold me to my goals. So, I’m turning to the internet!

The knowledge of how many subscribers I have will be really helpful, I think, because I have a visual reminder of how many people are interested in and looking forward to my videos. Having people depending on me is a huge motivator. I hate letting people down! So, I’ve decided to use this as my means of accountability. Each Friday, I’ll film myself talking about what I’ve accomplished that week, how I think I did, how I can improve, what I struggled with, and what my goals are for the next week. In the future, I’m planning on sharing some art process videos, art supply reviews, and lots of other artsy things as well! I’m excited, I think this will be fun.

Anyways, here’s the video!

Thanks for reading, and for watching! Have a great day, folks!

Katie

Art…Can Be for Fun??

Most days, when I sit down to draw, I automatically go through the different projects I’m juggling to determine what needs work. I associate artwork with just “work”, with self-improvement, and with playing catch-up to the other folks who got a degree in digital arts, illustration, comics, or animation. I want to be a full-time, self-employed artist someday, so I feel like I need to work really hard in order to live up to that.

The problem with that mentality is that I end up stressing myself out instead of actually producing artwork. I make lists and plans and I research for hours, but I don’t put pencil to paper or pen to tablet as often as I would like.

I have a difficult time making artwork for fun. I grew up thinking fanart would get me in trouble with whoever punished people for breaking copyright laws, and so I tried very hard to only draw original characters. It was still fun, I think, but now I often wish I had indulged in some good ol’ fanart funtimes. Fanart can teach young artists a lot about composition, design elements, proportion, and expression, but I think the greatest benefit is having fun! I think of it like encouraging play in infants and toddlers – they’re learning without realizing it, and their primary takeaway is the simple joy of doing the thing.

I think that’s a big contributor to why I’m so stuck in this destructive pattern: I’ve lost the joy of doing the thing.

I really want to work on making artwork that makes me joyful this year. I want to have fun! I want to run around my metaphorical, artsy playground and try new and unfamiliar things, and fall down, and get back up, grinning and laughing madly, to do it all again.

I do need to hold on to some discipline, though. I feel like if I just treat art as funtimes, I’ll be tempted to lump it in with my other funtimes activities. I’ll end up spending hours playing video games and reading comics instead of drawing. I definitely do need to spend time doing those things to recharge and give my brain a break, but balance is needed.

I’m not much for New Year’s resolutions, but I think this would be a good one to aim for. In the coming month, I’m going to try to make that goal more defined and attainable, but for now I think I’ll give myself some time to play with pencil, pen, and paper.

Happy 2019, all! Love and peace to you and yours.

Katie

Comics as Therapy

Stories

Processing emotional baggage can take many forms. For me, I process my problems with comics and illustrations. I really discovered this during my 100 Day Project, during which I made one illustration of myself for each day. Some days were great and super happy!

25. Aida

Other days were tough. I’d get caught up in negative thought spirals, I’d get irrationally angry and upset, or I’d just feel…numb.

19.

For me, some things are really hard to put into words. I have so many thoughts and feelings overwhelming my mental processors that words come out as “Spllusdfuehkjwjeh!” and that’s not very helpful, is it? Joking aside, it really helps me process what I’m feeling my drawing it out. When words stop making sense, I turn to imagery, the earliest form of humans communicating ideas.

Initially I make these comics just for me. If I like them enough, I’ll post them on the internet for folks to see. My aim is to share what I’m going through in hopes that it might help someone else who’s trying to process their own internal struggles. I want to encourage people and to remind them that they’re not alone.

Just as a reminder, if you’re struggling with something and feel at risk, please reach out to someone. If you don’t feel safe reaching out to people around you, please reach out to one of the help hotlines linked below. You’re an amazing, wonderful human just by virtue of being you! You make the world a brighter, better place just by existing.

Suicide Prevention Hotline

Crisis Call Center

GLBT Hotline

Trans Lifeline

Wishing you peace and love,

Katie

 

Internet Challenges and Self-Care

I really get a lot out of internet challenges like Inktober and NaNoWriMo. They give me specific structure, a timeline, and a community of people to interact with and to be inspired by! I love the feeling of satisfaction I get when I post something new each day, and I love how energetic and creative I feel.

That energy and burst of creativity is often just that, though – a burst. It’s often over quicker than I would like. At one point or another, I start to feel tired. Strained. Stressed. And then I start to feel guilty. Aren’t I supposed to be having fun? Where did that feeling go?

The reality of my situation is that I work a full-time job, and I travel quite a ways to get to said job, so I have less time than I would like to dedicate to month-long daily internet challenges. I’m only three days into Vlogmas over on my new YouTube channel, and I’ve quickly realized I don’t have enough time and energy to research, shoot, edit, render, and upload a video every single day.

(My channel is “RAWR! It’s Katie! if you’re interested!)

This is the fastest that I’ve ever had to modify my approach to a monthly challenge. Usually I get about halfway through until I realize that I’m putting too much on myself and need to change it up. I think a big part of this decision is that video production takes a long time! A lot longer than I had anticipated. I’d really only be able to manage it if I was working from home or working part-time. Another big part of it is that I have a tendency to make things overly-complicated. I know I could just upload daily two-minute videos of me talking about what I did that day, but I want them to be holiday-adjacent, and I want to share my thoughts on things I really cared about. Thus, if I want to have that extra level of care, I need to take more time than a single day (well – more like four to five hours that I have left over after work) to create videos. And y’know what? I’m surprisingly okay with that!

I’m becoming more and more okay with taking my time to do something well than to churn out content and sacrifice taking care of myself. I didn’t always – I used to get super down on myself for “wasting time” on taking care of myself. However, as I get older I’m realizing that healthy meals and adequate sleep are very important to my well-being. I can’t write well if I haven’t got enough sleep. I can’t draw well if my  hands are shaky from not eating.

But beyond that is a more important concept: I am worth taking care of because I am enough. My work, my output, doesn’t define my value as a person or as an artist. I don’t always remember these things, and some days it’s harder than others to love myself, but I’m working on it.

I’ll still take up internet challenges that seem really fun to me, but I’m going to be more okay with prioritizing my health and well-being over striving for perfect completion.

Thanks for reading, folks. Hope you have a great day!

Katie