Monday, December 28, 2009

The indieVISUAL Journal Challenge

After doing a whole lot of nothing artistically for the last month or two, I got a wicked new set of watercolor markers for Christmas and a big blank sketchbook. Relatives keep asking why I don't paint anymore (the whole ceramics thing still mystifies them - wasn't I a painting major?) and I've been pretty stuck for ideas on the whole. I need to sketch more.

A very talented young artist who goes by the name of Maddiox (check out her lovely lovely illustrations - and she's only 16!) has proposed a visual journal challenge - one sketchbook page a day for a year, and they must be shared with your fellow artists via blog. The idea is to get a big group of artists doing this all year so we can compare sketchbooks. I decided I'm totally in. I need this.

Here's a preview of what's to come - my Christmas day sketchbook page done with my new markers.

My goal here is to take 30 minutes a day to sit down and draw something, and try to fill the page. We'll see how it goes. Hopefully my drawing skills will get less crappy as time goes on. As the eternal procrastinator and quintessential lazy artist, my expectations are limited as to whether I'll complete this, but maybe if you yap at me enough, I'll feel guilty enough to keep it going. Wish me luck.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


I have not felt much like writing lately. I'm turning into this depressed recluse. I haven't made much in the way of art for a few weeks now. I don't go out much. I mostly sit home and waste time on Facebook, which is my only social interaction besides hanging out with Nich, and going by his family's house a couple times a week. I feel like I have no friends anymore. Not that I don't know that I have people who care about me and consider me their friend - it's just that I never see anyone anymore, and I'm getting to where I don't make a whole lot of effort to do so. I pretty much wake up in the late afternoon, mope sluggishly around the house drinking coffee and chatting online, occasionally goading myself into gathering laundry or doing some cooking or cleaning, followed by work at midnight and home by 4am to sit on Facebook for 30 mins or so until I get sleepy enough to go to bed. I keep telling myself I need to make a larger effort to change my life, but lately I just don't have the energy or the drive. I keep having disturbing dreams. I hate everything I draw or make. I'd like to make an appointment to see a therapist again, but I have the feeling there is nothing new to say. The same old recycled negative thoughts that have plagued me for years continue to bring me down, and I doubt that telling them to yet another therapist will make much difference. I don't know that I want to be on medication again, but I'm thinking this may become necessary soon.

I can't tell if I'm just making excuses for myself. Once again, I'm tired of the sound of my own voice. Every word I utter sounds whiny and complaining. The weather, my aches and pains, not wanting to make art, not having enough money, not having friends. I'm tired of it. I'm tired of my thoughts. I want a vacation from my own mind. I want a sound and sane one in it's place. Maybe a less lazy one. One that doesn't lose focus after only 5 minutes of drawing, and doesn't require a constant stream of ulcer-inducing caffeine substances to function properly.

I miss everyone. I miss school. I miss all my friends here in Indy, out of state, and out of the country. I'm lonely, and bored, and depressed. I feel like a whiny Hot Topic emo kid, and I hate myself for complaining, which only makes me feel worse.

I think what I'd like most right now is to get my soft black fleece lamby blanket, a bunch of firewood for Nich's parents fireplace, and I'd like to curl up with a stack of books and hibernate for the winter. Just wake me when it's over.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Everything in its right place.

My Daddy's ok, I'm going home this weekend, and I made some art today. All is right with the world.

So far, the things I'm trying to finish before Oranje are:

*Series of altars w/ various personal themes, including one about Dad's accident
*Massive cluster of windchimes/mobiles - the idea is to make as many as I possibly can and string them from pvc to hang above my booth. Nich may screen print some ceramic decals for me so I can make multiples of everything.
*Ceramic belljar/cake stand/thing - so far, I have not decided whether I'd like this to be functional or not. I like the idea of building something on the inside for when you lift the lid. This is not fleshed out yet - I just started throwing it today, so maybe I shouldn't be talking about it yet!
*Lots and lots of cups - tumblers and mugs. I'd like to make as many as possible, and use them as blank canvases for my whims, drawing and painting exercises, portraits of people I know, and items around the house such as Nich's odd collection of assorted knickknacks. Some carved, some just painted, maybe some just glazed (though I doubt it - I can't just throw something and throw a glaze on it. It's the painter in me, I suppose).
*At least one giant bowl - 20lbs of clay if possible. I just want to throw something big. And paint and carve the hell out of it.

I also started carving a lino block today of a pug to make some stickers and cards as free give-a-ways to raise money for KPR, because it's something I've been wanting to do. I've missed doing linocuts - for some reason, spending hours cutting into a block to get the right shades of light and dark with little marks and lines is like a puzzle to me - my brain seems to love it just as a task. I think I may do some new blocks to use as decals, as I really like the way my block prints look as decals. The nice, heavy blacks and clear cut light and dark areas make for lovely iron oxide decals, and I like them better than the ones made from simple line drawings. I also really like being able to use an image over and over in different mediums - on ceramics, on stickers, on heavy paper, on clothing, or whatever else I think of.

I read an interview with a fellow Etsy seller who had to begin budgeting her time each day in order to stay focused and organized, and to keep up with both kids and her new booming business. I thought, man, I'm terrible at making task lists for myself and budgeting my time. If I really want to get some stuff accomplished, especially in time for Oranje and the Rocky Ripple art fair, I better get cracking and start getting motivated. So, I woke up this morning, allotted myself 15 minutes to take care of pets when I woke up, an hour for light cleaning, an hour to have some breakfast and coffee, and then I split the next 6 hours or so between carving that block and throwing on the wheel, with frequent but very short breaks throughout. It was a pretty productive day, and I feel good. I'm going to try to do this for myself each day and stick to the plan. I have to start treating my time at home like a real job if I'm ever going to get better and make art I'm happy with, not to mention make a living. Hopefully if I can push myself to just keep making things, it will begin to feel less like a chore and more like the best part of my day.

Thanks to any of you who have been reading and keeping me and my family in your thoughts, and for all your comments and encouragement. Pics of new stuff soon!

Friday, August 28, 2009

It's incredible how much things can change in a day.

Dad went home today, and for the first time, he said that he understands that he had an accident and that he needs therapy. He knows that he can't go back to work for a while and needs to rest, and he understands that even though he doesn't remember the accident, everyone is telling him the truth. He's happy to be home, and is not arguing or getting upset at the mention of his short term memory loss. He's still a bit muddled, and says weird random things that don't make sense, but it sounds like he's progressing more and more each day. Just the fact that he's not refusing outpatient therapy, and that he understands he's not allowed to drive, make me feel loads better.

I talked to my Mom, and she sounded the most optimistic I've ever heard her. It really made me feel better. Dad is letting her cook dinner for him before she goes home tonight, so there's no danger of him forgetting to turn off the stove or something. The battery has been removed from his car, just in case he does try to drive.

Anyway, I hope this is an indication that things are going to continue to gradually improve. I'm taking his acceptance of his situation as a good sign. If things continue to improve, and he's able to take care of himself, I won't have to move home after all.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Very personal and not at all art related, but feel free to read.

I am inescapably depressed today. Everything is pissing me off, I'm tired, I'm sore, and I just want to give up. There is artwork waiting for my attention, but all I want to do is sit here.

They are releasing Dad from the hospital tomorrow. I'm really unhappy about this, because he thinks he's fine, but he just loses huge chunks of time. There is no one to watch him on a daily basis but his almost 90 year old mother, who is not altogether well herself. I told my mom last night that Nich and I were discussing the possibility of me moving home temporarily if Dad needed me, and she just flipped out like I was trying to give her a heart attack. Every time I talk to her, she just gives me a panic attack, and then is surprised when I start crying and despairing. I feel overwhelmed. There is no money for Dad to have a live in aide, and I'm not sure how I would support myself if I moved home, what would happen to Nich or our apartment, what I'd do with my cats, or whether there would even still be room for me in Dad's house. Not to mention, the fact that Gramma Rene is evil, and I don't know if I have the strength to be in her presence day after day.

My Dad is being a stubborn bastard. He keeps insisting he's fine and does not want treatment. He just wants to go home and go back to work, and the hospital says not to let him, but who's going to stop him? You wouldn't even know anything was wrong with him unless you talked to him for more than a few minutes. He's already tried to escape the hospital twice, and the nurses think he's totally fine, but the doctors say he can't drive or go back to work. So much for brain injury specialists actually knowing how to handle a freakin' brain injury.

My Mom so melodramatic, I can barely stand to talk to her. When I start to cry on the phone with her, it's almost like it reminds her that she's the Mom and I'm the kid, and maybe I'd like to freak out and be comforted once in a while, instead of constantly having to listen to how horrible and devastating her life is all the time. She has to stop herself and tell me it's all going to be ok, but it's like she sucks at it. She's used to being the one everyone takes care of. I'm supposed to be strong and sane, which is ridiculous, because I'm not the least bit sane, and I don't feel strong at all. I am so angry, and so depressed, I can't even put it all into words. It's all too much.

My life feels like a big tangled mess, and I just want to quit. Can I just quit life? Can I just hit a reset button?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Weird Fishes

I've been working on painting this one ceramic tumbler for days now. I finally finished it today. Now I just have to bisque fire and glaze fire it. I hope the colors don't wash out much after glazing. I'm half tempted to leave the outside unglazed, but I'm afraid it wouldn't be comfortable to hold, since I didn't sand it before I started painting.

I should just explain - when I was a teenager, I thought smoking was cool. I know how dumb that sounds, but I did. I would smoke alone in my room and watch the smoke curling off my cigarette, and I thought it was beautiful. I could almost watch a cigarette burn down without even taking a drag, just for the curls of smoke. Ah, the whims of a budding artist.

I've never really grown out of feeling like smoking is cool, though I've quit smoking myself. I burn incense instead, these days. But it's not the same as blowing smoke rings, or letting smoke curl out of your mouth slowly as you exhale. (Please don't take this as me advocating teen smoking, or anyone smoking. I don't advocate anyone doing anything.)

I found this amazing picture of a girl with a dreadlock mohawk, and I thought it was beautiful, but I also always think mohawks remind me of fish fins (and conversely, my fat goldfish seems to me to have a very flowy 'hawk.) And so, mohawk girl expels goldfish from her mouth like smoke.

If you'd like to see the work in progress, check this out.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Are you gonna believe your mom? Or Wikipedia?

Talking to my Mom this morning had my stomach in knots. Dad doesn't remember the accident or being in the hospital at all the last three days. He wants to go home, and the hospital is talking about discharging him. She said she'd let me know when she finds out more. She was very frantic and upset (my Mom is pretty melodramatic at times), and she was reluctantly going to pick up my grandmother to take her along to the hospital for the day. (My grandmother, to put it kindly, is EVIL INCARNATE. There is no exaggeration here.)

She got me pretty riled up. I'm thinking, who's going to take care of him when he's discharged, his almost 90 year old mother, whom he fights with daily? He can't even walk yet. I'm thinking, what if this damage is permanent? What if my Dad can't work? What if he has amnesia? When would be the soonest I could move back home if I needed to? Would I have to kill my grandmother before I could move back in, or could it wait until later?

After wandering around the house with my brain buzzing with worst case scenarios for an hour or so, I finally break down and turn to my trusty friend, Wikipedia. If there's ever anything in the world I need to know, I check good ol' Wikipedia.

What different breeds of bees are there?
Personal biography of comic book writer and artist Jhonen Vasquez?
Entire discography of Radiohead, including solo projects by Thom Yorke?

So naturally, I decide to look up concussion on the all knowing site. I've been wanting to do this for days, but I was afraid I'd find some horrible statistics about recovery or symptoms, and I'd work myself into an even bigger worried frenzy. I could easily turn into a hypochondriac on someone elses behalf based on reading up on medical conditions - I've done it to myself plenty of times. Up until know, I figured ignorance was the best course of action for the time being.

So, i broke down and read the article... and was relieved. It seems that even in the worst cases of concussion, the damage is temporary and will resolve itself in a matter of weeks. Needing surgery is very rare, and permanent damage is also pretty uncommon.


Now I'm still worried about who's going to take care of him as he recovers (I can NOT imagine my Mom moving in to be his nursing aid, no matter how good her intentions. They'll murder each other.) But, I realize that my big fear was losing my Dad as I know him. I was afraid he'd change, that he'd forget me or his life, or be permanently confused. I just wasn't ready for that. I don't think anyone ever is, but if he was in his 80's and developing alzheimers, I'd prepare myself. Having permanent brain damage in his 50's? That was scary to me.

So that's the update as of now. Wikipedia is the cure for hysterical and neurotic anxiety, in this case. Thanks, Wikipedia.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hesitant Optimism

These last few days have been a bit of an emotional roller coaster.

Bad news:
  • Our second car broke down (probably for good). It will probably be a couple months before we can afford a replacement, unless we get some massive windfall. I'll find out for sure on Wednesday whether the transmission is burnt up beyond repair.
  • I found out my Dad was in the ICU with a concussion and a skull fracture from a bicycling accident, and that he might not know what year it was. He was only waking up for minutes at a time, if that. Understandably, I was really panicked. It's not the first time he's been in the ICU for a bad accident, but it's the first time I haven't been there. I kept trying to remember when we talked last and what we said, which would bring a torrent of guilty tears. I've really gotta make a emergency travel savings fund for situations like this. If I wasn't so broke, I'd fly down this weekend.
  • Oranje posted the scheduled times for booth set up between now and the event, and the majority of them conflict with my new job. They've already said the schedule is set in stone, so I have very limited time to set this thing up. (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!PANICPANICPANIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
Good news:
  • Found out just how many people were expected to attend Oranje (4000+), and how much work most artists in my price range sell (a lot, apparently). Got pretty excited.
  • Got some artwork done, including some new decal designs (of robots and manta rays!)
  • Sold 7 pug plates to a lady who didn't have enough cash with her at the festival, but contacted me later. She also wants more stuff as soon as I can make it.
  • Found out more about some of my benefits at Fedex - they really seem to take good care of their employees. I get travel discounts, shipping discounts, access to their credit union, paid time off, paid holidays, and I will actually be able to take a leave of absence to take our month long road trip next summer and still have a job when I get back. Also, it sounds like they're pretty easy with giving you requests off, so maybe I'll get to go home more often.
  • Dad was scheduled to get out of ICU last night or today, whenever a room opened up. He is more coherent everyday, though he still sleeps a lot (but then, he has worked a graveyard shift for years, so sleeping in the day is pretty normal for him). Feeling very relieved about this. I'm hoping I get to talk to him soon.
  • Watched Tom play vintage baseball, and miraculously did not bring rain with me! (Last two times I tried to attend, they were rained out. I began to suspect that either I or Nich was a jinx. Understandably, Tom waited until the day of and checked the weather before informing us about the game). Btw, the correct way to cheer for a good play at a 1860's baseball game is "Hip hip, huzzah!" I definitely plan to attend again.
  • Went and saw District 9 on Sunday with Amy and Justin(absolutely excellent), and we went to Steak and Shake afterward to hang out. Amy and Justin are some of my favorite people, so it was a really fun evening.
The Fedex thing really has me pumped. If this job works out (and from the number of rehires at the training session, people actually seem to like working there), I'll have a job wherever we decide to move. They also offer tuition assistance, so that might help with grad school as well, if I decide to go. Can I dare to hope that I actually found a job that is perfect for me right now? Good pay, lots of perks, enough free time to work on my artwork, and weekends off? In the back of my head, I keep thinking it can't be this easy, and I'm gonna end up hating it. But we'll see what happens. So far, it sounds way better than working retail. And the exercise will be nice.

I've got a few ideas floating around in my head for artwork. I've been playing around with making wind chimes and bells, but trying to find something new to do with them that doesn't smack of granny craft. I've been thinking about the things that I associate with them. Bells in particular remind me of church bells in a catholic church, which reminds me of home. I'm thinking of doing clusters of bells and altars together - their shapes echo each other, so I'm thinking of doing something about home using both shapes. That's all I got so far, though. Lately I feel like I've just been working by instinct, trying different things and not worrying about whether they work or what their significance is. Some days I just need to draw robots, too. Nothing deeper than that. But I'm hoping to put together something more interesting than just shelves of pottery for Oranje. I've been tossing around the idea of re-creating my teenage bedroom, but I don't know. I miss the time when art, music, and writing in my journal in my room felt like some kind of emotional magic. I'd like to create a feeling like that.

Wish me luck on my second day of training - I'm a little groggy from lack of sleep, as I haven't blacked out my bedroom windows yet. Hopefully coffee and the peanut butter and jelly sandwich I just ate will carry me thru till morning.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Identity Crisis

I've been having a very hard time making myself make artwork lately. I've had a hard time making myself do much of anything. It's not a matter of depression, really, or mood. Not in so many words. I'd like to say it's not necessarily laziness either (though you could, in fact, say that.)

I think I've figured it out. I'm having some bizarre artist identity/mid-life crisis. Well, maybe not that bizarre. But certainly disconcerting. It's beginning to really drag me down.

Yesterday I went to the fair with Nich and Laura. I got up in the morning thinking, "Oh, it'll be beautiful and hot out, and it'll be a nice day. I'd like to look nice and be comfortable. I think I'll put on one of my dresses." I have this airy black and white cotton halter top dress that I really like, but haven't gotten much use out of since I bought it to wear to a wedding last year in fall, and it got too cold to wear it again. I figured, I'll look hot and be comfortable at the same time, and I won't be wearing frumpy ripped jeans and whatever t-shirt I've picked up off the floor that smells remotely clean (and the cats haven't dragged into the litter box lately.)

So, i took a nice hot shower, actually bothered to shave (I'm not always so great about this, I'll admit... but when you always wear jeans and t-shirts, you get a bit lazy. And hey, no one's ever called me a girly girl), and *gasp* put on makeup. When I finally was all dressed, I looked pretty good... except that I had major cleavage going on, and I debated whether my makeup was too heavy. You know, I don't do this often, and I feel a bit clueless when it comes to fashion in general. Like, I always get that squirmy high school reject feeling when I get dressed up, like I'm gonna get caught wearing last year's trend and get snickered at, or just dress incredibly inappropriately for whatever occasion I'm attending. Yeah, I'm kind of neurotic, but you kinda get that way when you weren't the popular kid. The confidence has never really been there to begin with.

So I trot downstairs, and Nich whistles, and I feel kind of awkward and wonder if I'm over dressed... and I ask him if I'm showing too much boob for the fair. He hesitates (well, he's a guy; what's too much cleavage?), and then says "Yeah, probably. I mean, it's the state fair. You'd probably want to wear something like that for Oranje (the big art show I have a booth at)."

Devastated, I despair because I have no *really* clean clothes and am not sure what to wear, and I trudge back upstairs and flop down on the bed and burst into tears.

A little overdramatic, I know. But this was what was going thru my screwy, insecure brain:

1. Great, I get to wear ripped mom jeans and an old t-shirt AGAIN. I'm tired of looking like a slob EVERY DAY.
2. I'm so embarrassed. Why the hell did I think that would be an appropriate outfit to wear to the freakin' state fair? (High school all over again - might as well be the naked at school dream).
3. I'm gonna be out in the heat all day wearing jeans. It's gonna be so freakin' hot. How annoying.
4. I am utterly old and uncool.

I go into the bathroom, wash off all the makeup (including the carefully applied peacock blue eyeliner I had painstakingly applied so that it would be bright, but not Mimi from the Drew Carey show overwhelming), and trudge back downstairs in somewhat clean jeans and a crappy thrift store tee with Sharkboy on it. Nich asks if I'm ok, and I say yes and quickly decide I need to go to the store to avoid any further discussion as to why I'm acting like a complete nutbag and my eyes are all red.

Now, what does any of this have to do with my inability to make artwork? It has to do with my self image, and all the stupid labels and ideas floating around in my head constantly telling me what I can and can't do, what I should be doing, and what labels I should and shouldn't fit. My friend Courtney nailed it. Try as I might to be "open minded" and not to live by any set of traditions, I've gone so far out of my way to avoid being any of the labels I hate, that when I fall short of my own expectations, I feel like crap. I am so freakin' good at beating myself up; so much so that it's paralyzing. I don't look the way I wish I looked, I don't live the way I really wish I could live, I'm not an interesting enough person by my own standards, I don't have cool clothes, and I don't make crazy awesome clever art. These are the things I tell myself, and they may sound superficial, but I realize that I've got this idea in my head of what I'd be if I were, I dunno, perfect. Perfect by my standards, I mean. Like, I'd have the courage to shave my head, dye my hair orange, and get 5 facial piercings if I wanted. Or the energy and ambition to make huge, cool installations of art that have no purpose other than that I wanted to make them and show them to people. I want to make things and do things that make me happy, but I get in the way of that. I think "No, that idea is too lame, you can't do that." I think "Real artists wouldn't be making crap like this, they'd be working on some super intelligent and well designed statement about society, or whatever." I think "You are well on your way to mediocrity, and your art will never get you anywhere, though you may make a living drawing pet portraits." And I just cringe and procrastinate and sit on facebook all day. I think about the future, and cringe even more. I'm already married, and eventually I'll be a mom, and then I'll have no free time. I will have just given up on every dream I ever had because I just couldn't cut it. I'll end up like my parents - working some job I hate to pay the bills, and miserable because I never did what I really wanted. But at the same time, I've been living like a broke-ass bachelor for years, and I wonder if I'll ever have money, a house, or any sense of security. I have no idea what I want, and the labels clash like titans in my brain - housewife, artist, mom, hipster, crazy awesome adventurous person, boring middle age life-zombie. (Does any of that make sense?)

I wish I didn't do this to myself. I'm aware of it, and I know better. But I can't shake those stupid little voices in my head that can reduce me to tears or suck all the joy out of creating something. My will is sapped, my inspiration is empty. I need a muse, or a really good shrink.

On a lighter note, I did manage to start a drawing today... I'm going to get back to it before I convince myself that it's stupid, and begin watching videos of cats on youtube.

Monday, August 10, 2009

What's up with all the pug stuff?

This past weekend, Nich and I went to the 500 Festival of Pugs, a fundraiser for one of my favorite no-kill animal rescues, Kentuckiana Pug Rescue. The question I get asked over and over is "Why pugs?" People ask if I own a pug, or did I used to have a pug? Maybe I always wanted a pug, and am planning to get one in the future?

The truth is, I'm really more of a cat person. Don't get me wrong, I think pugs are freakin' adorable (I have ever since seeing Milo and Otis as a kid). I may even have to rescue one some day - I've never been much of a small dog person (I'd rather a Great Dane over a Pomeranian anyday!), but Pugs are a huge exception. I mean, just look at those squishy little faces, and all those chubby wrinkles! Not to mention the fact that they're actually pretty smart, not really yappy, and love to snuggle up on the couch with you. I think they have the best personality a little dog could possibly have, and they just love everyone.

I used to work at Petco, and was put in charge of coordinating adoption events and working with the animal rescues that came into our store. My absolute favorite of all the rescues I worked with was Kentuckiana Pug Rescue. These people are wonderful, dedicated, and absolutely tireless. They do everything in their power to save a pug in need, and have raised pretty extraordinary amounts of money to help pugs with extensive medical issues. They really were an inspiration to me, and I decided I wanted to help if I could.

There was one volunteer in particular that I became good friends with, Annie, who was there at Petco week after week, telling people about the rescue and helping us get donations for all the adoption groups we had. She's awesome, and one of my favorite people. I offered at some point to make some ceramic items for KPR as a donation, for them to use in their raffles and fundraisers. I had just learned how to do laser decals, and thought it would be cute to get some thrift store mugs and put pug designs on them. Annie was not only enthusiastic about the idea, but she encouraged me to become a vendor at some of KPR's fundraiser festivals. She even gave me ideas for designs, giving me a list of her favorite pug sayings for me to draw inspiration from.

Annie and KPR are really the reason I started an Etsy and started selling my work. I hadn't done so much as a craft fair before I met them, but they've encouraged me to keep it up, and they've been kind enough to give me feedback and even make a purchase or two (or 5 or 7 or who knows? KPR volunteers are pretty awesome people). So, in exchange for getting my feet wet with the whole business thing, I make pug stuff, and I donate 10% of my sales to them. I think they deserve every penny, both for what they do for those dogs, and what they've done for me.

And who knows? One day, I may very well have a pug of my own, and by then I'll be really good at making dog bowls:)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

My purpose as a blog.

I've been giving this some thought, and I've decided what the focus of this blog will be (rather than aimless rambling, which is my usual tendency). I'm going to use this to document my process, both as an artist and as a small business owner. That might sound kind of stuffy, but hear me out.

I started going to school for art 8 years ago. I was first a painter, and then a ceramicist. At some point, I knew I wanted to make a living as an artist - I couldn't see myself holding a normal 9 to 5, and I'd always loved creating things, whether it was made out of paint or popsicle sticks. Towards the end of last year, I opened an Etsy store and began selling simple recycled ceramics online. I was just kind of tickled that I could take drawings of creepy bugs and octopus tentacles and whatever else I wanted, and pop them onto fancy teacups and thrift store coffee mugs. It also gave me an opportunity to draw, something I love but don't always do when I'm making stuff out of clay.

I really enjoyed being able to make some extra money with the Etsy shop, but I couldn't give it my full attention because I was focusing on my final year of art school. After graduating, I finally told myself "This is it. If you're gonna do this for a living, do it now, while you have the time. You have no classes, no job, and no kids. If you don't do it now, you never will." So, I set up my studio in the kitchen, put new stuff up on Etsy, and applied for a juried show (Oranje Indy 2009). I started researching how to make my online store better, and tips for art and craft fair displays. I started trawling thrift stores for ceramics, wheel throwing some pieces myself, and finding used objects I could fix up for my table displays at the next fair. And some of my serious art (not the thrift store stuff) actually started selling on Etsy (Woohoo! People like my work!)

I get really excited whenever I'm researching anything I'm into, so I've been a little obsessive with this whole starting a business thing. But I'm learning a lot as I go. I read up on microloans for new small business owners, and researched ways to make signs, banners, and the best place to get business cards made (my vote so far is, by the way - those mini cards are just too sweet!)

I'm looking forward to the day when I can look back on this blog's beginning and say to my husband, "Hey Nich! Remember back when you were screenprinting old t-shirts in a leaky basement, and I was wheelthrowing cups in the kitchen next to the litterbox?" (don't ask). I'll be able to see where I've been, both as an artist and as an entrepreneur. Hopefully I can find a balance between business and pleasure, and not lose my soul in the process. And hopefully I can share the things I make, what inspires me, and whatever new processes I'm playing around with as well.

And maybe someone else will come across this blog and learn from my mistakes, get inspired, and do something they love too.

So wish me luck! This is just the beginning.

Monday, August 3, 2009


This is a blog. I've tried doing this many, MANY times. I've had an opendiary, a myspace, and a livejournal. I never seem to keep it up. Not that I don't love to write - I find it wholeheartedly addictive - it's just that when it seems no one is really reading, I retreat to my pen and ink hardbound journals and sketchbooks to get it all out. I have stacks and stacks of them. I actually collect cool looking journals, and anyone who knows me really well knows a gift of a blank book will never go to waste.

But then I suddenly want to share what I've written with someone. Some of the thoughts are deeply personal and private, and not to be shared. But some of them, I don't know, I just want someone else to know that I have them. So I put scanned pages in my artwork, or I hand make a book and fill it with entries and drawings and send it to a girl in Mexico as part of a swap. And I feel a bit better, but still.

I feel guilty for wanting to share every moment of my life with the world. I feel guilty for wanting the attention (I so desperately do). I feel guilty for being hopelessly addicted to the internet, checking my Facebook sometimes every hour, posting pics of my daily activities, updating my status message hoping it's clever. I'm really insecure, and I want validation. I want to be a rock star, dammit. How stupid is that? I went into the wrong profession. Potters can't be rock stars. Rock stars don't make dog bowls and coffee mugs with dinosaurs on them.

I also feel guilty because now, everything I do on the net feels like a promotion on some level. I feel like now that I have a online store, everything I do is an advertisement. I'm trying to sell not just my work, but myself. If you think I'm cool enough, if you liked that last tweet I posted, maybe you'll visit my store. Maybe you'll like my stuff. Maybe I can pay a bill or buy some new supplies. Please?

I don't know if I can do this. My brain is so split. I want to genuinely share myself with others, my experiences and ideas. If I didn't, I wouldn't have become an artist. But I've got this notion of selling out, and I've also got this habit of spending more time on the internet than I do making art, because I've always been a fabulous procrastinator, and honestly it's such a lovely waste of time. It's so EASY. I've got 13 tabs open right now just waiting for my attention. If I keep this up, I won't have to worry about selling out because I WON'T HAVE ANY NEW ART.

But the siren call of blogging is beckoning me. I can't help it. Maybe someone else will know how I feel. Maybe someone else watched that killer Amanda Palmer video and thought "Good God, if I were only 1/10th as cool as that."

Good God, if only were 1/10th as cool. Then maybe I'd be confident enough to make art, instead of just drooling over the cool stuff other people are doing.

More to come. Maybe even pictures of art, if I make any.