Tuesday, December 27, 2016

2016 in a Nutshell

So.... where to begin with 2016?!?  I feel compelled to just focus on how 2016 was the worst year yet (everyone seems to be on board with that), but I'm going to try my hardest to acknowledge all the good art things for one second.... Okay here we go:

Art I Saw

2016 was filled with lots of inspiring art.  I read some awesome art books: Katie Scott's Botanicum, Animalium, and Story of Life: Evolution, and Juxtapoz magazine's "Wild".  I visited my fave museum again, the Dali Museum in St. Pete (with a temp exhibit of Frida Kahlo<3). I discovered too many great shops on Etsy and Instagram.  And I saw some lovely murals, including a local mural by one of my talented friends (check out the progress on her Instagram!)

Heathen by Ryan McLennan

My Art

As for my art, I'm very proud to say that I accomplished a lot on my "Goals for 2016"!  I made a profesh portfolio, I had a bunch of freelance work, including my second year coordinating/judging/drawing in the "Let's Chalk About It: A Healthier Lagoon" chalk art contest, a t-shirt design for the Vero Beach Marine Lab's last summer camp<3, some animal portraits, and some wedding artwork for two of my dearest friends.  I also did the thing I thought would never happen, I opened my Etsy shop!!!  

On the side I also made some marine-life art (which will hopefully be turned into art show pieces and patterns/patches for my shop in 2017), some designs for tatts that I will get eventually (sorry, Mom), and of course, more receipt doodles (1, 2).

But finally, my most fulfilling project of 2016 is the Audubon House Mural.  It has been my ultimate dream to create a mural encompassing the wildlife of Florida (as you can see from my slightly crazy post about my idols at InkDwell), and in April, the stars aligned when I was introduced to the Pelican Island Audubon Society.  After six months of researching habitats with experts in plants, birds, and even mosquitoes, I designed a 48x11' mural that portrays three habitats that exist within the Oslo Riverfront Preserve - an important area for conservation in Indian River County.  So far, with the help of many volunteers, I have painted the base colors for the background, but by April of next year there should be 76 species of animals and plants gracing the wall of their breezeway!

Now heading into 2017, there are a few things I hope to accomplish in the new year:

  1. Finish the Audubon House Mural
  2. Show my work at a farmer's market or art festival
  3. Start a collaborative zine with a writer
  4. Create new products for my Etsy shop
  5. Snag an art gig outside of Florida...
  6. Sketch every-day things
  7. And, as always, RELAX

Tricolored heron chalk art design for "Let's Chalk About It: A Healthier Lagoon"
Brown pelican chalk art design for "Let's Chalk About It: A Healthier Lagoon"
some commission work from 2016
custom wedding invitation for my bffs!!!
some of my Etsy shop charms
All of the custom pet charms/portraits I've made this year!!  Love doing these <3
random marine art
future tatt designsss
receipt doodles of 2016
Audubon House Mural preliminary sketches
the mural right now!

Future Art

I wanted to end this post on a bit of a serious note, because something about this year has left me emotionally drained beyond recognition.  Not just because of the political, social, and environmental shit storm that seemed to grow and grow until it left us with a big ol' Dump we will have to deal with in 2017 - I felt like something much deeper and psychological was taking hold this year.  And now with the sudden death of Carrier Fisher, who was notably outspoken about her mental illness, I think it's time to open up, people.

You would think by 2016, our society would have a firm grasp on how to handle mental health issues, but the trend still remains to just deny and move forward.  Like many people, I've dealt with severe anxiety and depression throughout my life, and I was in that state of denial for a very long time.  But after many missed opportunities, wasted days, broken relationships, and months spent unemployed because of it, I finally decided to get help last year.  Looking back, I wish I had just said "screw you!" to the stigma on mental health and done something sooner.  Even now I feel weird talking about it, like it's something I should keep to myself.  But hey, "Screw you, stigma!"  Maybe this insignificant blog post will hit someone at the right time and make them realize that our brain needs to be taken care of just as much as our body does.  To anyone feeling stuck in their head, take a second to stop what you're doing, and grant yourself permission to be happy.  You are not alone, it is not wrong to feel the way you do, and don't ever be afraid to ask for help.  The sooner you do, the better the rest of your life will be.  Do it for Carrie!

With ALL of that being said, I think 2017 will be a year of much more soul searchin' in my artwork, so stay tuned.........

Past year's "In a Nutshell" Posts

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Etsy Endeavor and Creative Living

Like many people, I always turn to Etsy when I need a personal, unique, creative gift for someone (or when I want to window shop for all the things I wish I could own).  Etsy is such a wonderful platform - it gives both artists the chance to grow their own business, and the consumer a chance to support these independent creators.  I know personally that it's very hard to create when you are in financial woes, and giving this avenue of relief for artists of all kinds (painters, writers, musicians, sculptors, jewelry designers) is so important.

For a long time, I told myself it was impossible to make a living off of art, and because of that I always put in on the back-burner (to the extent that for several years in college, the only art I made was some doodles on my notes).  I went from dreaming of being a cartoonist for Nickelodeon, to being a full-time scientist, and while I love the work that I've done/do in science, I always felt like something was missing.  It took me a while to realize that just because art isn't the most reliable skill to make a living off of, didn't mean I had to ignore it completely.  Art is just a part of who I am, and a part of who a lot of people are, and to put that kind of pressure on an aspect of yourself only does it an injustice.  

I've been reading a book by Elizabeth Gilbert called Big Magic, which dissects the worries and doubts that all people have when pursuing a "creative living."  She does a great job of putting it all into perspective, and this was one of my favorite passages:
"Perhaps creativity's greatest mercy is this: By completely absorbing our attention for a short and magical spell, it can relieve us temporarily from the dreadful burden of being who we are.  Best of all, at the end of your creative adventure, you have a souvenir - something you made, something to remind you forever of your brief but transformative encounter with inspiration..... It doesn't have to be perfect, and you don't have to be Plato.  It's all just an instinct and an experiment and a mystery, so begin.  Begin anywhere.  Preferably right now.  And if greatness should ever accidentally stumble upon you, let it catch you hard at work.  Hard at work, and sane."
While it can be, art doesn't have to be meaningful, or life-changing, or financially successful in order to have the right to be made.  If it makes you happy and you love it, then find a way to do it.  And if you happen to make money from it along the way, even better!

About 2 years ago I really started getting inspired by the strange world of pins and patch making.  I loved how simple, cartoony, and personality filled they are, and after months of scaring myself out of it, I finally started my own shop of charm designs - Sweet Dea Drawings!  My shop has been open for almost 5 months now, and I have been overwhelmed by the support I've already received.  I still have those thoughts of "What if my work isn't good enough?  What if I'm annoying people with all of this?  What if it's still stupid to put all this effort into something so uncertain?"  And the answers might be "It's not, you are, and it is," but so what?  I like creating things, and I absolutely love seeing my work make other people happy, and that is all I need.

So thank you thank you thank you to everyone who has shown any kind of love towards my work.  I hope this little blog post can put into perspective how much it truly means to me<3

some charms from my Etsy shop
Mermaid patch in my shop
fall-style studs in my shop

Also, here is another sneak peak of my custom pet charms that will be hitting my shop in November! Start getting pics of your furry/feathered/scaly friends ready :)

Finally, I wanted to end this with a shout-out to some of the shops that continually blow my mind and inspire me.  In the words of Tom Waits: "As a songwriter, the only thing I really do is make jewelry for the inside of other people's minds."  While all of these pins and bowls and earrings and felt-figurines may not be the next Sistine Chapel, they still generated that happy feeling of creativity in someone, and they might inspire others to do the same.  So if you have an idea, make it!!  You never know who you'll touch with your ideas, especially if you never put them out in the world.

Here are just a couple of amazing shops that have made "jewelry" for the inside of my mind:

Silver Lining Ceramics
Barruntando Ceramica
Lisa Junius
Lorien Stern
Small Wild Shop
ZZIEE Ceramics

Good Natured Art
Emillie Ferris
Sarah K Benning
Sew Sal Shop

Ali Munn Jewelry
Benu Made
Buried Diamond
Moana Matron Designs
The Sea & Me Creations

Big Bud Press
Caitlin Stout
Cat Coven
Coucou Suzette
Natelle Draws Stuff
Minna Leunig
Pony People
Robin Eisenberg
Sparkle Collective

Avocado Stone Faces
Tara Galuska
Wild Cactus