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