Yesterday, shuffling through the debris underneath my drawing table, I came across this quote scrawled across the back of an old envelope. I have no recollection of writing it, but the handwriting is indeed mine and it seemed a magic sort of serendipity that I should find it just now, that it would find this moment in my life to resurface.
As I plow toward the end of the comic I’ve been toiling on for the last forever, as i wrap up the myriad of smaller design projects i’ve been working on, the only thing keeping me motivated is the promise I made to myself a couple weeks ago, the promise of taking a month off. A month off to devote to myself. A month off to devote to “the work.”
For years, I’ve been circling around the same issue with my illustration, trying to define my own personal style. I know I have lamented at length about it here, but I don’t know that I’ve ever truly been able to articulate what I mean by “style” exactly. Yes, i have a way of working with a particular medium, yes there is continuity in the way that I draw, but the truth is I have rarely, rarely felt that my illustration work expresses who I really am, deep down. It rarely, rarely reflects ME.
I guess in some ways, it’s not suppose to. Illustration, like design, is largely about expressing someone else’s story, using your skill to define your client’s image, express their vision. That is what separates illustration from fine art.
But the illustrators I admire most, the most successful illustrators, manage somehow to do both… express their souls and yet tell the story in a way that is universally appealing and understood. People come to them because of their particular vision, their particular way of telling the story.
That hasn’t been happening with my work. Largely, my clients come to me with their own distinct vision of how something should look and rely on me to make it happen, make it real. And you know, that’s okay. I’m proud of the fact that I can do that, that my skills are flexible enough that I can step into their heads and make it come to life the way they see it.
But there’s a big part of me that’s being denied in that process. I’ve been so busy telling everybody else’s story, that I haven’t figured out a way to tell my own. I haven’t done the work that I need to do to figure out my own visual language, define my own vision. And the time has come for me to do that.
Which brings me to this announcement: i’m taking a break from blogging. I’m not sure for how long, but for at least a month. For the first time ever, really, I am going to seize the break coming up in my schedule to turtle inward and try it figure out just what it is my heart wants to say with my gifts. For awhile I thought maybe I could go through this process and document it all here for you, but then I realized no. NO! That sort of negates the whole point. I need to spend time with myself, my own voice, and listen to what it has to tell me without running it through the grand internet filter, without submitting it all for review and comment. It needs to come from me and me only. I hope you understand.
Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind and post whenever the energy is right. Of course! I am a woman, i am tempermental, I may change my mind at any moment and that is my right! But if it’s quiet here for awhile, don’t be concerned. I’m okay, I’m just swell, and I will be back. Eventually. But it’s time for this caterpillar to cocoon up in her chrysalis and try to morph into the butterfly she secretly hopes she was meant to be. Of course, me being me, I may well emerge a giraffe or a dolphin or a many tentacled octopus, but at least I will be confident that it will be 100 percent unfiltered me.
OMG. What’s happening to me?! I used to be all like FUN and stuff! I used to write wry observations about the Frozen Lady On Channel 41 . Now I’m all with the heavy heavy and the sobering. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but jeepers creepers, guys… Must. Lighten. The. Hell. UP!!!
I’ve been so UNFUN lately. I have been the UNFUN-est! I have! Really! Haven’t you noticed?! It’s okay! You can say yes. I won’t inflict my UNFUNness on you or anything. I don’t think it’s contagious or anything (but it might spread if you scratch it.)
Even my horoscope has noticed:
Sagittarius November 22 – December 20
You are so serious and sober right now, immersed as you are in working out strategies and calculations aimed at enhancing your power in your work environment. But perhaps you should look up and see what’s going on around you. Many people have been behaving irresponsibly.
Behaving irresponsibly? WITHOUT ME?!! Really? Cuz that’s just mean. If we’re having an irresponsible day, then please, let me in on it. I could use one or two or nineteen of those right now. I really could. And also a girly drink. With pineapple wedge garnishes and lemon wheels and something pink and plastic hanging from it please.
But what does that mean exactly? “Many people have been behaving irresponsibly.” Am I suppose to march over and chastise them with all my newly enhanced power? Or am I suppose to join in with the irresponsible behavior (powerfully, but of course, because I am all about the power, don’tcha know) ?! The problem with horoscopes is that they are never quite specific enough. And also, I tend to read them at like 11:30 p.m. when the irresponsible goings-on are of a nature that I am best left out of (did you catch all that?! Please don’t make me explain myself. My brain is completely fried after a long day of UNFUN power enchancing in my work environment. Also, I think my eyes may be bleeding from staring at the computer screen so long. Argh.)
Okay. Well, I have to go rest my UNFUN head now. I have to go to bed. I can assure you that I will be doing nothing more irresponsible than sleeping, though. I know. Bummer.
I have been teetering on the edge of some kind of enormous personal evolution for sometime now. Perhaps revolution is a better word. Yes, definitely. I feel utterly revolutionary in a way that pretty much touches every aspect of my life.
In the past few weeks the pieces, the flotsam and jetsam that have been orbiting and spinning in my brain, have started snapping into place, like pieces in a child’s wooden jigsaw puzzle. There are still lots of unmoored bits littering the table, but in the past little while the big picture has started to assemble. It’s an odd feeling, both exhilerating and exhausting, comforting and terrifying.
And as I sit here fumbling for the right tone, the right words to explain it, I realize it’s probably a bit too early to talk about it really, but I’m going to press on regardless.
For the past couple of years, I’ve had this tremendous desire to do something bigger than myself, contribute to the greater good. I have always had a desire to leave my mark on the world somehow, some way. Some small little imprint of myself. Something in some way significant even if it is only as big as the sparking end of a firefly (and if you don’t think the sparking end of a firefly is significant, then my guess is you have never seen one winking in the night and felt its fleeting magic).
I just haven’t known how or where or when or what shape it would take. Honestly, as I sit here, I still don’t. But at least I have a direction now. I think I have found my cause.
I want to save the world.
Literally. Specifically by helping to stop Global Warming and preserve the environment. My environment, your environment, everyone’s environment.
Every year since we relocated to Toronto area from Calgary, my awareness of the problem has increased dramatically. Before we moved here, I had never experienced smog on such an extreme level. Before we moved here, I never really spent anytime connecting the dots.
But I am now. I’m connecting the dots and the picture I’m seeing scares the crap out of me. I need to do something. I need to do all I can.
Something more than turning off the televison and turning down the thermostat. Something more than drawing a comic book about the subject, although today I am filled with more conviction then ever that that this comic is important and a splendid use of my time and talent.
Since the beginning of this blog, I’ve generally steered away from expressing anything too overtly political. Not because I don’t have definite political views (because I most certainly do), but because I was afraid i might offend someone and I really, really loathe the idea of offending someone, anyone.
But there are certain truths which just can’t be ignored anymore and I need to find a voice to speak out about that, whether it’s through art or writing. There comes a time when you need to stand up and be counted, to get involved, to commit yourself all the way. And I think that time is swiftly arriving for me.
This afternoon, Johnny Bugsaviour and I went to see Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth and as we sat in the practically empty theatre (granted the World Cup final was on at the same time and if the car flags are any indication, The GTA has World Cup fever big time), covered in gooseflesh from the over zealous air conditioning, it suddenly dawned on me that practically everything I’ve been noodling about in my head the last few years is all connected to this one issue.
Every month for the past three years, we make a donation to UNICEF. In times of crisis like the Tsunami or Hurricane Katrina, we donate even more. We are the kind of really annoying people that when faced with the almost inevitable decision of what to get the members of our family who want for nothing and are rolling in the plenty, will make UNICEF donations in their names instead of buying another useless consumer item that will inevitably get stuffed in a closet and forgotten until it’’s pulled out and sold at some garage sale years down the line. Yes. We’re one of THOSE couples. We try not to be too self-righteous about it and we try to soften the edges with a box of chocolates, but yes. My in-laws have had plently of livestock purchased in their names, are responsible for many children being vaccinated and outfitted with a rudimentary education. Fortunately for us, they are too polite to roll their eyes at us when we actually hand over these gifts, but privately… well, i forgive them.
And we donate whenever we have a little upturn in fortune as occassionally comes our way and has come our way recently. It’s a modest way of celebrating, of giving back.
But as I sat there in the theatre, I realized that we are contributing to help those suffering the outrageous consequences of Global warming, but we are not donating to stop the actual cause of the problem… the cause of the drought, the famine, the flood, the tsunami, the hurricane. That’s going to change real quick. From here on out we will be donating to both UNICEF and an environmental agency we have yet to choose (we’re looking into several right now, trying to pick the most affective one).
But it’s not only those kind of issues that are linked to global warming… it’s almost everything. Terrorism? Well, what’s one of the fundamental things that makes us vulnerable to terrorism? Our dependence on oil and fossil fuels and the fight for control of those sources of energy. Pandemics and disease? Many of these have their fundamental roots in the ecology system as well and as the planet warms up and shifts, it offers so many more opportunities to allow for the incubation and transfer of truly terrible new plagues. Like SARS. Like Ebola. Like West Nile Virus.
I could go on and on (this is just skimming the surface of the philosophical shift I’m experiencing, but I can see you glazing over already), but really, Al Gore has had more practice at this and does it much better than I can at this time. So go see it. Go now. Please. I beg you, for your own sake and edification, go see An Inconvenient Truth. It’s time to open your eyes, face facts and correct the course before it’s much too late.
It’s time to change the world.
I have happied up again, and I’m not just saying that because it’s hard for me to leave a post up which admits flat out that I have bad days too. (My inner Sagittarian squirms all over when I do that and it often takes a great deal of steely will to leave such posts for more than a couple of hours.)
Nope. I’m happied up for real. This is in part due to the fact that one of my all time fave episodes of the Gilmore Girls was on this morning, the one containing my favourite line of all time, all media… “But Mrs. Kim says french fries are the devil’s starchy fingers.” But mainly it has to do with the fact that as I was coming down the stairs this morning, I found Johnny Buglover crouched in the entryway with a glass in one hand and an old Christmas card in the other, trying to scoop up a wayward bug.
and to the bug he was muttering “jeez. You are the most persistent potatobug I ever met.”
Today I feel very mid-January. Today I feel sad. Nothing sad has happened to me personally, really, but I sometimes take the pain of others very personally. I have a way of making it my own. Today I have heard sad sad news about a dog I never met and it knocked me flat. I have a dear friend who has a family member, a very young and vital family member, who is facing down cancer and that rocks me too. And I have another very dear friend who has been facing something similarly dreadful with her mother and it makes me feel like my insides are about to fall out. All sorts of stuff is happening in the world which devestates me and makes me feel useless and tired. All sorts of stuff is happening in the world which makes me feel sad. Tommorrow, a third dear friend is getting married in Alberta and I’m sad that I can’t be there with her, for her. It makes me ache.
Most days, I am pretty adept at stuffing that into some quiet internal pocket and focusing on my own carefully structured little world manufactured out of blueberries and acorns, free paint swatchs from the hardware store, dog hair, fancy twigs, and odd words.
But today, I feel heavy with it all.
Today I feel sad.