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Weekly Blog 2/18/19: Beauty for Ashes: Receiving Negative Feedback, Processing Failure, and Starting A Period Of Study

Hey guys! It’s Taylor. I’m here with a bit of a difficult blog, on a bit of a difficult topic: some difficult feedback I’ve gotten, and the process I’ve gone through in integrating that information and figuring out “if I suck at the one thing I really want to do, where do I go from here?”

So, basically, a few days back I showed my latest creation, the comic Beauty for Ashes, issue 1, to a friend. He complimented the art and printing, but said finally: “I can’t follow the story. Like, at all.” It was a punch to the gut. I hadn’t realized that with all the corners I cut – reading lots of comics (but not drawing much), only practicing drawing females (to the detriment of learning to draw males), spending years practicing making comics but never really learning the theory behind it – I realized, after this difficult conversation, that my slacking and freeform study had not resulted in me being able to draw comics. It had resulted in being essentially a writer who can’t plot a novel, or a screenplay author who can’t format. I had the passion and the practice and NONE of the study.

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For a few days I languished in despair (intentionally using dramatic language there – I was being dramatic). My whole world felt jumbled. I had spent the past 15 years or so actively trying to become a comic artist, and, to my mind, had failed. Then a thought came to me – one of my favorite quotes:

“If you need a tree, the best time to plant one was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.”

Meaning that yes, we may waste time, and yes, it may be too late for some things in some senses – but that doesn’t mean you give up. You still plant that tree, and you water it and make the best of what you can.

So I got thinking: What did I do with other art forms that I have gotten good at (novel-writing, painting, etc)? “Practice,” “study,” and “start small” came to mind immediately. With novels, I studied the craft (taking classes and reading how-to books), I practiced (I’ve written 8 or 10 fiction books depending on whether you count picture books), and I started small (the picture books were my first foray into fiction). With watercolor, it’s been a similar path.

For some reason, I guess I’d thought that my years of striving with comics would result automatically in learning. Turns out practice makes progress, but it works a heck of a lot better if it’s combined with academic study (or at least learning from experts) and starting super-micro.

Thus I’ve been coming up with a sort of course of study for myself, going so far as to also learn about “how to teach yourself stuff in general,” involving books and courses on how to make comics. It includes some of Eisner’s instructional works on sequential art, Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics and Making Comics, Hirohiko Araki’s Manga in Theory and Practice, and other resources.

The important thing is…I’m going to study. I’m going to do the homework. I’m sad that it’s taken me this long to be ready to do it, but it takes what it takes. For me it took four comics that didn’t make sense – and some incredibly helpful but very painful feedback – to figure out that I need to do the homework, have beta readers, and study – the same as everyone else.

In the next year or so, I don’t plan to release much in terms of comics, but I’ll definitely still be making art, the Tarot deck, and my blog and YouTube content. It will be a year of practice and study, and that’s okay. I’m excited to tackle this, and I’m excited to see where I end up in 2020.

If you’d like to support this whole operation, please head over to my Etsy shop. You can purchase art, prints, even stationery and Tarot accessories, all handmade by me. And if you’re enjoying my site, please hit the follow button on the right to get notified whenever I post a new blog (about once a week).

Wishing you all the best,

Taylor

Weekly Blog 2/11/19: My Writing Journey, the Art of the Novel, and Future Plans

Hey guys, it’s Taylor and today I’m writing a blog all about novels and my love of them – and how that love figures into my plans for my creative life, going forward.

So, the story so far: I’ve been reading since beyond memory, which means either that I don’t remember as far back as most people or I learned to read before most people, or maybe both. According to my parents I was picking out word at 3 and reading at 4, but I honestly don’t remember much before I was 5 or 6, so it’s kind of all conjecture and “he-said-she-read” at this point. The important thing, though, is that I’ve been reading for about 25 years at this point, and that it started early.

I’ve always loved books, but novels are really my sort of cozy, happy place. You know that awesome commercial where Nick Jonas paired with Cigna to recommend talking to your doctor about your mental/emotional health? Well, if Nick’s happy place is a cozy little living room with a fireplace, music, and a puppy, then mine is just about anywhere as long as I’ve got a novel.

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(A few of my favorites. Image: a stack of paperback novels, including Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, Half Life by Shelley Jackson, An Acceptable Time by Madeleine L’Engle, DUNE by Frank Herbert, and Book One of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher.)

But at some point there was a big shift in how I viewed novels and what I thought of them – and that was the moment that I realized oh, there are people who actually write novels, for a living. The awareness of the existence of novelists changed me. I suddenly decided (at age 8 or 9) that I was going to be a novelist.

Over the subsequent 20 years, I got into art, comics, and illustration – and I do love those things, don’t get me wrong – but see, I’m not one of those people who believes you can’t do all your passions, that you have to limit yourself, and that even some things you truly love have to fall by the wayside for one or two to succeed. I do believe in prioritizing and working on a limited number of things at a time; but I also really believe in following all of your deep passions.

For me, art and comics and Tarot are a big part of my heart, but another big part – that hasn’t seen the light of day much lately – is writing novels. And that part of me is starting to come to light again.

I was on a trip recently that involved a lot of plane trips and airport layovers, and I am not exactly a comfortable flyer. I often half-joke “I like flying – I just don’t like airports, security, takeoff, landing, or turbulence!” So, despite it being a business trip (not much time to write), I brought a traveler’s notebook and pens and wrote pretty much constantly on my travel days.

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(I didn’t bring ALL of these notebooks – just the traveler’s notebook on top. Image: a pile of varied notebooks, planners, and journals, topped with an overstuffed, over-decorated traveler’s notebook.)

Now, I hadn’t made plans on what I was going to write, so I kind of just wrote whatever. Part of it was journaling, but a bunch of what came out was scenes for a rewrite of a story I’ve had in my head for several years. It was originally called Prysm and was going to be a straight romance, and it’s somehow morphed into more than just a romance, and definitely not straight. It’s also taken on the working title Freefall – or, as a friend of mine has nicknamed it, “Lesbians In Space.” (Hey, my friends are awesome, what can I say?)

So, honestly, I have to acknowledge that I have a lot of projects right now, and I’m shuffling them around a little. Some things are being back-burnered, some things are being shelved, but so far as I can tell, nothing that I’ve promised “coming soon!” is getting put on pause. I promise that the Millennial Mystic Tarot is very much still coming out – I’m actually working steadily on that; it’s just a big project that takes a long time to do regardless. The stuff that I’m shuffling around is mostly behind-the-scenes, in-the-works projects that I haven’t made public yet.

I have mixed feelings about shelving anything, and I’m not doing it without serious consideration. My experience with the Millennial Mystic Tarot has taught me that the key to completing a big project is to stick with it and not allow distractions to drag you away. But at the same time, I can’t deny that being a writer is still one of my dearest dreams.

So I’ll keep you posted – about the Tarot deck, the novel, and all other future plans. If you’d like to stay informed on them, please hit the follow button on the sidebar.

And until next time, I hope you’re having a fantastic day.

-Taylor

Self-Care For Creatives in the Month of Love

Hey all! It is February and I’m back!

I realize it’s been a couple weeks since my last blog, and I do apologize for that. I was on a business trip and it’s taken me longer to bounce back from the jet lag and altitude sickness than I expected…So, apologies. But honestly, it was worth it – check out where I went….

That’s right, Park City, Utah – for Sundance Film Festival, through work. It was an incredible experience and I am SO grateful. However, it was exhausting. I am anything but fit, and actually rather overweight and out of shape, so combine jet lag with that and being at 7,000 feet, and you get one very exhausted Taylor.

But I’m back now and settled and ready to get back to the blogging. I actually do have a specific topic today – I’m talking about self-care and self-love in the “month of love.” In the Western world especially, we celebrate love and Valentine’s Day in February, and it’s generally focused on romantic love, partner-love, soulmate love, things like that. I feel, however, that it can be a great opportunity to celebrate and invest in the most important relationship any of us will ever have in this life: our relationship with our own self.

It’s difficult, in our world today, to feel love for ourselves. Even when we focus in on it, it’s a challenge to love our whole self, or even any part of it. We are constantly told that we’re not good enough. And I don’t just mean the billboards telling us that we are too short, too fat, too dark, too whatever – I mean the pressure on us to “live up to the standards” for financial wellbeing, career path, academic achievement, possessions, and so on.

  • Massive student debt? We’re told we should have worked our way through college (despite the fact that no college kid can get a job that will fully pay tuition semester by semester).
  • Not in our dream career? We’re told that we shouldn’t be settling for a retail job. (The phrase “didn’t you get a degree in _____, though?” comes to mind.)
  • Didn’t make it through college? We are immediately questioned about our academic performance. (Never mind that some of us couldn’t afford it or don’t have the stability, health, or temperament for college. It’s truly not for everyone.)
  • Don’t have a car? People just stare and laugh. (I’ve taken the bus for the past seven years and it works fine for me for now, thanks.)

It’s sad, really, that we are, all of us, all ages and generations, so insecure that we have to trash people for the paths their lives have taken. But what can we do it?

Know thyself. And then love thyself anyway.

It’s not easy. It’s a big task. But it can start small: Spend a dollar more to get the body wash you actually like. Pull that one really comfy, soft T-shirt out of the closet, and wear it when you’re at home (or, hell, out and about). Replace some of your super-processed candy bar snacks with fruit. (I’m not being judgemental – this is just one thing that really helps me feel like I’m properly caring for myself.)

Then try bigger things. Treat yo self. Take yourself on a micro-vacation to a local park or lake. Sit with your favorite book, even if you’ve read it a hundred times, and read. Spend a little time every day journaling. Be gentle with yourself when you screw up at work. Clean up your act when appropriate, but don’t join the crowd of people who will beat you up about it. “The world is going to be hard enough on you; they don’t need you to volunteer to help with the task.”

In the past years, I’ve worked my way up to daring to do really big things for myself – daring to have a long-term relationship, learning to travel on my own, getting my dental repairs done, and, perhaps most dramatically, shifting into a more risky but incredibly more rewarding career as an artist.

But honestly, it started small. It started with body wash. It started with soft T-shirts. And before that, it started with deciding maybe I was worth good things. Maybe I deserved body wash and T-shirts and vacations and love. It wasn’t certain; I was not sure at all that i deserved anything good. I just was willing to consider that maybe, maybe I deserved better.

I started low. When I started my self-care journey, people had to teach me that you ought to shower every day (my parents had taught me, of course, but I had forgotten). I was lucky to have people around me to teach me. Since I know many of you don’t, here are 12 small ways to take care of yourself, that are actually good ideas:

  1. Drink 3 bottles of water a day.
  2. Brush your teeth regularly.
  3. Take a shower every day.
  4. Journal often. Yes, it’s worth your time, even if you’re not a writer, even if you never read them again.
  5. Wear what you like. I mean it. Screw the haters.
  6. Listen to music that makes you feel like you can rule the world. A few of my songs are “Jump” by Van Halen, “Shooting Star” by Owl City, “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten, “I Love It” by Icona Pop, and “Fighter” by Christina Aguilera
  7. Read a few good books on the creative life. I’m personally a big fan of “The Right to Write” by Julia Cameron.
  8. Take selfies. You don’t have to post them. They’re for your, not the public.
  9. Do your creative work. Are you secretly a writer? Write. Are you secretly an artist? Make art. Again, you don’t have to share it with the world. It’s for you.
  10. Celebrate your birthday, or some other day that is special to you and which allows you and those close to you to celebrate the fact that you’re here in this world. It is definitely worth celebrating.
  11. Be gentle with yourself when you’re sick. Pushing yourself past the edge doesn’t help anyone. I know it’s not always possible to get out of work and such, especially when you have low income, but at least minimize the other extra stuff while you’re ill.
  12. A final note about more serious and/or specific health stuff: Make whatever health adjustments are appropriate for you (and okay with your doctors). For some of us, that means diet and exercise. For others, it means definitely NOT diet and exercise. And for some, it’s more about reconstructive work, or gender transition, or mental health management, or even reconciliation with parts of our bodies with which we have complicated relationships (hello to my fellow assault survivors – Me Too). Heck, for some of us, it’s just getting back to yoga, therapy, or support groups. Or going for the first time.

Sometimes self-care is difficult. I know for sure that I fight some days just to treat my body and myself with the very base level of respect that I deserve. The important thing is not whether I manage that every day. The important thing is that I try, and I believe I do deserve it.

Like anything worthwhile, self-care takes work. It is difficult but not complicated.

I love the old movie, Field of Dreams, that coined the phrase “If you build it, they will come.” The protagonist in that movie was given a task that seemed absurd, seemed illogical, seemed like a waste of energy. Who was going to use that baseball field? What magic was going to happen?

Well, go see the movie. And then remember that if you build the framework for self-respect and self-care, the self-love will follow.

It all starts with a belief that maybe the magic can happen.

Okay, that’s all I’ve got for today. Thank you for reading this (very long) blog post, and thank you for being part of my little world here.

Go forth and love yourself.

-Taylor

Weekly Blog 1/14/19 | Stick With It: How To Stay Focused When Doing Long-Term Creative Works

So, I’m one of Those People. You know – the creative people who, even amongst the world of creative people, are pretty spacey, pretty all-over-the-place, and keep on starting new projects even though they  are currently writing a novel, designing three comic books, running a blog, selling on Etsy, and oh-by-the-way also majoring in fashion design at the local college.

One of Those. Yep, that’s me.

My dreams, though, are mostly long-term projects. I do comics, I’m illustrating a Tarot deck, and I’d love to draw graphic novels at some point. I love to tell stories and I intend to do more comics, comic series, and card decks.

The issue is that jumping from project to project like I tend to is pretty much the opposite of what I need to do in order to make these long-term projects work.

So how do I do it? I’ve published comic books, I’m most of the way through my debut fully-illustrated divination deck – but if my temperament is that of a typical flighty Gemini, how do I manage to do these big projects anyway?


The following are my tactics for dealing with that very issue.

Keep it steady. Most big projects are not a sprint – they’re a marathon. Meaning that through the course of it, you’re going to get bored, you’re going to get distracted, you’re gonna want to quit. That’s natural and normal and fine. What’s not fine is when you let boredom, distraction, or disillusionment drag you off your marathon course.

The success of a big project is centered less in doing “good” work, than in doing steady, consistent work. When it comes to comics and graphic novels, for example, the people who successfully complete them are not the people who can draw the best, the prettiest, the most accurate drawings – it’s the people who can churn out a page a day, or more, for months on end.

I’m not sure about slow, but steady definitely wins the race.

Focus on the finish line. We often daydream about our work, either consciously or unconsciously, and while we can’t control what our mind drifts to, we usually have at least some control over what we dwell on. So when you’re doing one project and find yourself dreaming about working on or starting another, don’t dwell on it – bring your focus back to the idea of working on, or finishing, your current project. Imagine its beauty, its significance, even theoretical success, if that’s what it takes to keep your focus on what you’re doing now.

This can be tricky, and please, don’t beat yourself up for getting distracted with other new ideas. And don’t disregard them – just don’t abandon your current project to jump to another! Take notes, make some rudimentary sketches, get your ideas down…and then save them for later. You can focus on them in the future, but for right now, your current project takes precedence.

As frustrating as it is, letting the future take care of the future projects and sticking to one or two in the moment is usually the best way to go.

Maintain your motivation – whatever that means. I know this seems incredibly obvious, but feeding your muse, feeding your motivation, is essential – no matter what that means! If what really inspires you is listening to My Chemical Romance and lip-syncing in your room, then do that. If what inspires you is drinking incredibly fancy specific tea and burning specific incense, do that. If you’re inspired by new art materials, treat yourself (within reason and budget) to a couple new things.

Try not to judge yourself when you’re doing your “refill the inspiration” activities. Try not to let others judge you, either. (Both are very difficult at times.) I personally am super inspired by watching (actually, listening to) YouTube videos of people doing art, in the background, while I paint; this means that I watch literally hours of YouTube every day, but I try not to judge myself or let anyone give me a hard time about my constant YouTubing.

Because in the end, this is YOUR art and YOUR inspiration. As long as you’re not harming yourself or anyone else, nobody else gets a vote on how you foster your inspiration.

Be accountable. Accountability has been an extremely helpful way for me to get myself to get the work done. I have daily check-boxes in my bullet journal that keep me on track for various tasks, like “work day job,” “paint a Tarot card,” “work on comics.” Deadlines as well as daily work  times have allowed even a Gemini like me to stick with these projects that sometimes last upwards of a year.

Accountability can take many forms. Sometimes it means checking in with a friend or partner regularly and having them ask you, “Did you work on x today?” Other times it’s just a bullet journal where you are held accountable to yourself. And still others use social media, and an upload schedule, to make sure they “at least make something.

Love the work itself. They say the people who are successful are not the ones who most love the art form or the ideas they’re working with – it’s the people who learn to love (or at least deal with) the everyday grind. It really doesn’t matter how much you want to be an artist, if you can’t tolerate daily painting and sketching, promoting yourself, re-doing work, and all the other practicalities of being an artist day to day.

That’s all I’ve got. I hope that some of it helps you. If you have any questions or comments, please do feel free to leave them down below.

And until next time, I hope you’re having a really excellent day – and I’ll talk you again very, very soon!

-Taylor

Weekly Blog 1/7/19: 7 Ways To Get (And Stay) In Creative Flow

Hey guys! Today I thought I’d talk a bit about the concept of flow, and share the techniques that help me get into flow and keep it going.

 

So what is flow, though? It’s hard to define, but like many things, “I can’t define it but I know when I’m there.” Flow is a state of being in which one is able to work (usually in an artistic way, such as drawing or painting, but not always) in a steady, productive, focused, and creative manner, without excessive breaks, distraction, or procrastination.

For me, being in flow is accompanied by a low-grade euphoria of “I’m doing it. I’m getting work done and creating things. Yes. YES!” I’m pretty sure it’s some kind of neurotransmitter rush, sort of like runner’s high. I also tend to lose track of time – for hours – while in flow, which is an unfortunate side effect, but is a small price to pay for the enjoyment and productivity of flow.

It’s taken literal years for me to figure out how to get into flow and how to stay there, so I wanted to share some tips-and-tricks so that maybe it won’t take 15 years of trial and error for YOU to get there. 🙂


1. Self Care and Basic Health

I know. You don’t want to hear it. But for me at least, I can tell you that if I don’t take basic care of my body, I CANNOT get into flow. I don’t mean that I’m in perfect health – HAH, far from it – but I have to be experiencing a basic level of acceptable wellness, or my sluggishness and general “blah” feeling gets in the way. Regular light exercise, scheduling adequate sleep time, and most of all eating healthy has become, for me, the baseline that allows me to build flow on top.

 

2. Organization and Scheduling

Another one nobody wants to hear or accept – but organization and regular work schedules have helped me form a framework in which I can really get into flow. Although I work from home (even for my day job), I have found that I really need to have scheduled “work hours” during which I work on certain projects. I usually spend a few minutes each morning just looking over what I need to do and figuring out what I’ll work on that day, and then work in one- to two-hour blocks on each project. This allows me not only to make sure that I get a good amount of work done on each project, but reinforces, in my subconscious mind, what my schedule is and when I need to be in “work mode.”

 

3. Preparation and Planning

This is less about planning out plots and storylines and more about being prepared to work logistically: Is the laptop charged? If not, is there a plug available for it? Do I have enough of that one paint that I was running out of? Did I clean those brushes yesterday, or are they still covered in Phthalo Blue? Do I have the paper I need in order to draw those next few comic pages? Did I order more G-pen nibs? I find it extremely helpful to keep a running shopping list of supplies and materials to replace, writing them down as I notice them running low; that way, at the end of the week (or, in my case, when a coupon comes up for the art store), I can do one shopping run on the weekend, rather than having to run out at 9:45am to replace something when I have to work at 10.

 

4. Environmental Management

Make your workplace a place you want to be. I realize this isn’t possible, but don’t assume I mean you have to lease a penthouse suite as your studio and have expensive aromatherapy oils and state-of-the-art ergonomic beanbag chairs. Really, I’m talking about the little things. Play music you really enjoy. Burn candles or incense that are appealing to you (but please be careful and use dishes/incense burners so that you don’t burn anything down while you’re in flow!). If you’re less a music person and prefer to have something slightly distracting, play a podcast, reruns of a TV show you’ve seen (new episodes not recommended, as you’ll focus on them more than your work), or even an ambient noise. YouTube has plenty of ambient noise mixes, and you can use them to place yourself anywhere from a trendy Pacific-Northwest Starbucks to the Gryffindor common room at Hogwarts. (I am not making this up.) My favorite is a mix by Magical Forest called “Library Study Session,” and it sounds like just that – and is extremely helpful in getting me to focus and feel like I’m ready for flow to happen.

 

5. Just Do It

The best way to get something done is to start doing it. Even if you start small, start. Even if you’re writing random lines instead of a novel, write. Even if you’re drawing in a sketchbook rather than painting your incredible mural, draw. Even if you are messing around with chords on guitar rather than composing a symphony…okay, you get the idea. You will never get into flow with your work if you never work. “The easiest way to guarantee you won’t succeed is to never try.” It’s tempting to wait until everything is perfect, but to be perfectly honest, it never will be – and it doesn’t need to be for you to create your work. If your goal is to be able to “flow” your work for 6 hours straight, start with 60 minutes. Or 16. Or 6. Flow, like anything, takes practice to be able to do consistently, and there is no way around that practice.

 

6. Mindfulness: Bring It Back To Center

One of the most devious ways our brains keep us from creating our great works is distraction. And the worst part of distraction is that, quite often, it happens not only without our approval, but without our knowledge. Have you ever found yourself surfing through social media and realized it’s been 2 hours since work started and you’ve done nothing but…you aren’t even sure what? Been there. It’s frustrating, but the best thing to do is to put down the phone or close the browser and get back to work. Don’t beat yourself up, don’t overanalyze it, don’t waste time being morose or self-pitying. Just bring your attention back to your actual work and get back to it.

In meditation, it can take years of practice to “quiet the monkey mind” and be able to just sit and not get distracted with trains of thought – and creativity and flow are, in a way, meditative practices. So do your best not to get too frustrated if, even after reading this article and even trying for a while, you can’t seem to focus or get into flow. Beating ourselves up only wastes time and energy and makes us mentally associate work with feeling guilty, which makes us avoid it even more. Don’t waste your time kicking yourself. Breathe, shift your attention, and do the next work task you can find.

 

7. Feed The Inspiration

We all have muses, I believe – even if that muse is an amorphous cloud of ideas we draw from, rather than a beautiful damsel for whom we would lasso the sun and the moon and the stars – and those muses need offerings if we are to expect them to provide us with ideas. For me, my inspiration, my muse, seems to like the stuff I liked when I was a teenager – when I was really “coming into my own” creatively – so when I need to get inspired, I tend to listen to goth and alt-rock albums from the mid-late 2000’s, watch horror movies from the same era, and read a lot (and I mean a LOT) of manga. Even if what I’m making is not dark, horrific, or anime-styled, this stuff inspires me.

I suspect it has something to do with my inner child (inner teenager?) and the incredible, intense, almost volatile creativity she had. Although less consistent in my work and less skilled than I am now, that teenager was incredibly creative and prolific and just loved coming up with ideas. She was in love with art, the process of making art, and the idea of being an artist, and so she is what I tap into when I really need to get myself creating.

My point is this: Try to pin down the time (or place, or mood) in your life when/where you felt most creative, and feed your creativity on things that connect you with that time/place/mood. If you’ve ever been in flow, try to recall where you were, what you were listening to, what you were watching around that time…If nothing else, it’ll be a blast of nostalgia – and with any luck, it could tip you over into flow.

That’s my top 7 tips, but I have a bonus one that is more important than any of the others: PLEASE don’t destroy your health with your work, or mistake overburdening yourself for flow. If you are unwilling to pause, even to eat or sleep, that’s not flow, that’s overwork – and it’s going to result in burnout, not prolific creativity. Ideally, anxiety, anger, and stress are NOT part of flow (at least, they’re not its main results), and long-term, these things can literally shorten your lifespan as well as your quality of life.

And, if you find yourself unable to stop working, even when you want to or know you need to, or if you are skipping consecutive days of sleep, please talk to a trusted person (doctor, therapist, friend) as soon as possible. These can be signs of mental health issues, but if addressed promptly and properly, they can definitely be treated. (I just mention this because I have a mood disorder that, on occasion, takes over my creativity and makes me work for days straight. It’s not healthy for me to do that, but these days I’m able to balance pretty well and get into flow rather than hypomania.)

Finally I’d like to personally wish you good luck in your creative journey, whatever that may look like, and offer that if you ever need advice on creativity or getting into flow, I’m here. Drop me a line! My contact form is here and you can contact me there any time.

Thank you for reading. If you’d like to support this whole operation, please head over to my Etsy shop and  check out what I’ve got for sale there. And for more of my thoughts on art and more, here’s my YouTube channel. Maybe you’ll find yourself listening to me ramble about art while you get yourself into a good creative flow. 🙂

All the best,

Taylor

New Year’s Blog 2018-2019: Glancing Back, Gazing Forward

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
― Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fan

2018 was far and away the best year of my life thus far, and I’m not afraid to say that. (After all, the year is over, I can’t jinx it now.) It brought into my life hope, empowerment, courage, confidence, and a level of creativity that I had not experienced ever before. I don’t just mean that I got better at drawing, at anatomy or perspective or style; I mean I got better at art, the War of Art, the Art-Life, the Artist’s Way, whatever you want to call it – the very process of being creative grew in my life far more than it ever has before.

I made and published comics and zines, designed and inked an entire tarot deck (and have painted half the cards!), honed my skills, developed a paper planning system that works for me, and generally got better at being an artist. Morning Pages and a regular meditation practice have helped me to calm my mind on a daily basis, enough that I can concentrate much better and just generally get a lot more done. Having my mind clear is like having my paints well-organized: it doesn’t make the art happen, but it makes the process far more streamlined and eliminates some of the delays involved with disarray.

My online presence went from occasional blog posts, even-more-occasional videos, and a tiny, quiet Instagram, to…well, perhaps not massive success, but certainly enough popularity that my Etsy shop was able to grow by 900% (that is, making nearly 10x as much revenue as the previous year). It’s still not a huge amount – not nearly enough to quit my day job – but enough that I managed to invest in some supplies I needed, and enough that my shop has become a profitable side gig rather than a

I also grew spiritually, becoming more secure in my identity (nonidentity?) as a “spiritual seeker not otherwise specified.” I don’t identify as Pagan or Christian or New Age (though all those apply in their own ways) – I just identify as a spiritual seeker who loves Tarot and oracle cards, is fascinated by angels, and may very well be an old soul, but doesn’t claim to be any kind of guru.

I started offering card readings on my Etsy shop, something I’d wanted to do for years upon years, and am still offering about a dozen different spreads at reasonable rates. (If you’d like a reading with me, please click here to browse them.) I am thrilled to be able to offer these readings. I didn’t do it lightly: I’ve been considering for about a year and practicing and preparing, and have been reading for over 15 years, but didn’t list them until near the New Year…and I’m glad I waited until it was truly the right time.

I also started working in the conventional workplace this year, first as a receptionist, and then shifting into the world of 3D models and virtual reality design, with a focus on artistic environment creation and model texturing. My journey there has been wild. As someone who was on disability and did not work in a conventional workplace (even part-time) for 5 years, going from no job to dream job in under 12 months is nothing short of miraculous. I worked hard for it, yes, but I am very fortunate to be where I am today, in such a short period of time.

Of course, there have been challenges. Depression and anxiety plagued me for months at a time, and nearly drove me into the hospital in August. I managed to pull through without needing hospitalization, though, and other than that, I haven’t had many mental health “blips.” Most of my real struggles have centered around money management (difficult thing, when shifting from fully on disability to working part time) and time management. However, having a paper planning system that really works for me has been an absolute lifesaver: I got into bullet journaling this year, and while I do not do the incredibly elaborate beautiful stuff you see on Instagram, my bullet journal has been very helpful.

Before I close, I do want to take a moment to thank all of YOU, from the bottom of my heart, for being with me on this journey, for following my work, for clicking all those Like and Subscribe and Favorite buttons, and for allowing me to do what I do and share my interests with you. You have my eternal gratitude, and I wish you all an incredible, nurturing, creative 2019.

All the best,

Taylor

Weekly Blog 12/24/18: Writing Scripts, Drawing Manga, and Reading Tarot Cards

Hello everyone!

I’m very excited to announce that I am working on not one, but two manga comics right now – one in the drawing phase and one still in the scripting phase.

The one that I’m currently drawing is Chapter One of My Life On The Sidelines. “But that already came out!” you might say. Well, that’s sort of true. I wrote, illustrated, printed, and published MLOTS’s Prologue, but chapter 1 is what I’m drawing right now. I’ve had the script done for a while, but it’s only now being actually drawn and inked. I’ll be bringing this chapter to you sometime in January.

The one that I’m scripting, I’m almost more excited about. It’s a “dark hero” story, a vigilante hero who defends a town and finally captures his arch-enemy…only to find that disposing of the evildoer is not always as simple as one thinks. It’s a story of redemption and forgiveness, and while it’s not going to be an easy one, I really think it will be an important story to write and tell, both for me to create, and for others to read and experience.

Finally, I wanted to let you all know – and I’m a bit nervous to share this – that I’m now offering Tarot/oracle/angel card readings on my Etsy shop! Yes, you can finally have a reading from me. The readings will be pre-recorded videos that I’ll film of me doing your reading. I’m offering one card and four card readings right now, and on top of that, they’re on sale! So check out the listings for the one card and four card readings. I think people will really like them. 🙂

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Four decks I’m really enjoying: Oracle of the Angels (Blue Angel), Work Your Light Oracle (Hay House), Moonchild Tarot (Starseed Designs), and the Isis Oracle (Blue Angel).

That’s about all. Things have been a lot less crazy lately, or maybe I’m just managing my time better. Regardless, I’m relieved to say that I don’t feel very stressed this week. 🙂

I want to send a special shoutout to the people who shopped at my Etsy shop this week. It really, really helps to have that extra income, however small it may be some months. I’m offering free shipping through the end of December, so if you’d like to order something, now would be a good time. 🙂

Until next week,

Taylor

Image: The Three of Cups card from the Moonchild Tarot. Available at https://themoonchildtarot.com