Weekly Blog 4/10/19: Adjusting to Full Time Work + Weekly Digest

Hey guys! It’s Taylor.

Today I’ve got the first blog since I made that change at the beginning of April, and I do apologize for it being a couple of days late. Working full-time has been a little crazy, and apparently I’ve still yet to learn to leave my weekends clear so that I can rest up properly – and take care of things like blog posts.

To be totally honest, I have barely painted at all, all this week. It’s been my first week of real full-time work, and I haven’t made time. I won’t say I haven’t HAD time, because clearly I’ve found time to do things like go shopping, set up new ring-planners, and make YouTube videos; but I wish I could have spent some time on painting. I’ll be getting back to that shortly, perhaps even this week.

I also have been thinking hard about getting back to comics. I always said that comics are what I really dream of doing, but after the debacle of trying to create Beauty for Ashes without any editors, beta readers, or even letting anyone else LOOK at it, I felt so defeated and so much a failure that I had to take a month or two off. However, a new story is tugging at my drawing hand, so to speak, and I feel moved to get to work on it again.

The Millennial Mystic Tarot is going through final edits and will be printed soon, and is still on schedule to go out in June.

And now for the video digest!

April 1: April 2019 Card Reading and Energy Forecast

In this video I did the first of April’s card readings (I do two – first of the month and halfway through) and used several decks of angel cards to deliver intuitive messages from the Universe to you and everyone else watching.

 

April 3: Cheap Art Supply Celebration, Episode 4 | Crayola Colored Pencils

In this video, the fourth in my series celebrating inexpensive art supplies, I colored a piece I did a while ago, of Instagram model Canniny, and chatted about my love of Crayola colored pencils. Inexpensive as they may be, I do love them!

 

Also April 3: Planner Lineup April 2019 – Plus A Rings Setup!

I’m not sure how this video ended up posted the same day as my Crayola colored pencil video, but it did. I show you the planners I’m using in April 2019, and also the rings setup I currently plan in.

 

April 5: 10 Tips for Breaking Back Into Your Grimoire

This video has had an awesome response and I’m so glad, because it’s a topic that I am struggling with currently myself: that feeling of “I can’t get back into my grimoire/spellbook/Book of Shadows, even though it’s right there waiting to be worked in!” In this video I share 10 tips that have helped me (truly) to get back into a routine of working in my grimoire and adding to it.

So yeah, that’s this week. I’ll be back next Monday with a written summary with the week of the 8th, as well as any updates I have on my various projects. Stay tuned!…

-Taylor

Weekly Blog 3-25-19 | Life Changes, Tarot Challenges, and a Kitten!

Hey guys! Taylor here. I’m sorry for not posting last week, I was preparing for a sort of last-minute business trip. I was actually in LA – here are a few photos:

It was crazy and good and awesome and I’m really really excited, and absolutely cannot tell you anything, about what I’m working on. (Darn!) All I can tell you is, my life is changing in ways I never thought possible – and I am about to be VERY busy.

But. I can tell about you what I’m working on personally:

My Tarot deck: Yes, the Millennial Mystic Tarot is moving ahead. I’m finalizing some design details and then will be sending it off to the printers this week. Reviewers, watch your email accounts for updates! I will be emailing each of you a tracking number when I ship your sample deck.

A Tarot challenge: The #AprilFoolsJourney on Instagram is a 30-day challenge that walks you through the Tarot and offers divination prompts for each day. The actual list of prompts is in the following images (feel free to save, refer to, and/or share):

A kitten: I rescued a kitten from a tree. It was a really surreal experience – I’ve rarely held kittens (I always had adult cats as pets) and this one is TEENY, maybe 9 weeks old. We are searching for her original family and are hopeful that we can locate them soon. The poor thing was being bullied by three bluejays and a crow, so we have humorously nicknamed her Birdie.

Well, that’s about all I have time to write before heading off to work. If you’d like to support this whole operation, please do feel free to head over to the Etsy shop, or subscribe to this blog. Thank you to everyone who’s been reading along!

All the best,
Taylor

Weekly Blog 3-11-19 | Dealing With The End of a Big Project and Post-Project Blues!

(IMAGE: A pile of watercolor paintings (actually the actual paintings from the Millennial Mystic Tarot), face down, with the date shown in the corner of each. The dates range from August 2018 to February 2019.)

Hey guys, it’s Taylor!

(But you knew that.)

I’d like to talk a little bit today about how to come off of a long-term (months or a year plus) project, how to practice self-care in the wake of an overwhelming amount of work, and dealing with what I like to call “project postpartum.”

Since I referenced a type of depression there, though, I have to preface this blog post with the following disclaimer: I am not a doctor, I am not a counselor, I am not a therapist, and neither this post nor any other part of this blog is intended to treat, manage, or cure any psychiatric illness. I’m just sharing my own experience, in the hopes that hearing from a peer will help someone to help themself.

Clear? Good. Liability is a funny thing.

Anyway, I’m just finishing up my Millennial Mystic Tarot and getting ready to send it off to the printers, and while I am super excited and happy to have finished it, I’ve definitely got a case of what I call “project postpartum.” Though it’s certainly not as severe as postpartum depression – which is a real illness and should be respectfully treated as such! – I do get sort of “end-of-project blues,” the way we get post-holiday blues.

I’m not sure about the rest of the world, but here in the US, most people have some kind of holiday – Christmas, Hanukkah, Solstice, etc – in late December, and it’s followed by some of the worst weather we get all year. Days are short (winter solstice = shortest day/longest night, after all). Weather is overcast, cold, and snow/rain/sleet are common in many places, so you can’t really go outside to get sunshine even when it IS daytime. And you’ve just had this months-long buildup to your holiday of choice, and then…nothing. Nothing to celebrate, nothing to buy, and nothing to do except weep over the ruins of your finances, if you participate in gift-giving.

As I write this, it’s March, so we’re mostly out of the woods with the winter blues – but I’m experiencing some definite post-project blues. I find I often don’t know what to do with myself when I’ve just finished a huge project. Most times, I expect to feel some huge feelings, like pride, accomplishment, or just being happy about the project being done…but setting up those expectations makes it all the more empty when I just feel tired after the project is complete. In addition, I am so damn tired that I can feel down, sometimes severely, just from lack of energy. And with many projects, I’m stressing about how it’ll be received.

In the end, adding it all up, what I’ve got amounts to emptiness, disappointment, exhaustion, and stress. Great recipe for feeling low.

“So what do I do?” you might ask. “Sure, I get project postpartum, but how do I deal with it?”

Beyond the basic suggestions of “get plenty of sleep, eat properly, stat hydrated, take your meds, and don’t get MORE exhausted,” I have some suggestions and actionables on the more mental side, so keep reading. I’m bullet-pointing them in no particular order, so that you can pick and choose what appeals to you, or try them all – I’m leaving that in your hands.

  • Congratulate yourself, with help if possible. Throw a little party, or a big one. Get a couple of supportive friends together and make it very clear that this party is to honor your project’s completion. If your project has an online following (think webcomics and other online works), celebrate with its fans. Or just take yourself out to dinner or a movie or whatever YOU like to do to celebrate.
  • Recount what you’ve learned. This is a great way to honor the project’s effects on your life: Get some paper and write down everything this project taught you. Get creative with this: Did the project teach you time management? Did you start any new habits due to this project? Did you gain skills? Did you forge relationships, professional or personal? Is it going to be a great portfolio piece? Or did you maybe learn some of your limitations or weak spots? Be grateful for what you’ve learned, regardless.
  • Self-critique (not criticize) the work. Especially if it’s an artistic and/or creative project, look over what you have and critique it in a balanced way. Don’t be too vicious but also don’t be too self-indulgent. Look at it from an outside perspective, as much as possible. Think about what aspects you want to continue and bring along to future projects, and which things you’d like to avoid in the future.
  • Publish or present the work in some way. If it’s not already, show your work in some public way, online or off. Is there a coffee shop that might show your work for a week? Is there a company where you can self-publish a few copies of your work? Does your project have/need/deserve a website? Could you share it with friends on your Facebook or Instagram? What about sharing copies with a few supportive people in your offline friend group? Sometimes this helps to feel like the project is “really done” and helps boost your morale.
  • Post your feelings somewhere. Be it a private group on Facebook for people who do the kind of work you do, or your private blog, or a one-off YouTube video to share with friends, sometimes honoring the project (as well as your exhaustion and mixed feelings) can be therapeutic.
  • Mourn the process of working on this project. This might be a weird one, and it’s not for everyone, and I’m not suggesting you go into mourning – just do some work to deal with the fact that you don’t get to work on this thing anymore, this project that has been a huge part of your life for possibly years. Honor the sadness you may feel, if that’s something that’s coming up for your. Thank the project for being part of your life.

The theme here, of course, is closure – because honestly that’s usually what I most need at the end of a project. Not in that I have trouble with going back and “fixing” parts, but because I don’t usually actually feel that excited about finishing a project. And that’s okay. But I still want and deserve to have some closure, and the joy that comes with really feeling, deep down, that the project is complete.

So, I hope some of these tips will help you. If any of them do, or if you just identified with the feelings expressed, let me know in the comments! And if you need to talk to someone further about this, feel free to reach out to me via the contact form. If you’d like to support my whole operation and the content I create, please head over to my Etsy shop – there are all kinds of things, from art to Tarot readings, that you can purchase to help support me.

With that being said…until next time.

-Taylor

Weekly Blog 3/4/19: The Millennial Mystic Tarot is COMPLETE!

Hey everyone!

I’ve been working for the past year on creating the illustrations for my first Tarot deck. I am so thrilled to tell you, that that task is complete.

However, there is a lot to do before the actual deck goes on sale. This week, in addition to my day job and my ongoing work with OgreWare, I’ll be working on formatting the illustrations into something I can send to the printer. On-demand printers demand (ok, request) that the images that creators send be in a certain format, and that varies from printer to printer.

Fortunately, the printer I’m using has a relatively simple system and offers .psd (Photoshop format) templates to download and use as guides for formatting your card images. So once I get all the images scanned and stitched and color-corrected, I should be pretty much ready to start formatting them.

I am thrilled and excited and nervous about getting the first print back from the printer. When I do get it, I’m going to do my first reading with my deck and will probably film it. (I’ll also probably cry.)

Some people might think that I’m being a bit dramatic with the language and enthusiasm I express when discussing the Millennial Mystic Tarot, but really, there is something special about your first big artistic creation. It’s truly indescribable. Whether it’s a novel, gallery show, music album, or card deck, crossing that finish line quite often results in a feeling of “Wait, what? Did I actually do it?!” Followed by, well, ALL the emotions.

I’ll be sharing videos on the printing process once I actually have things to report, so stay tuned for that. If you’d like to help support this whole operation, please do head over to my Etsy shop. And as always, I hope you’re having a truly excellent day, and I’ll talk to you again very soon.

Bye!!
-Taylor

 

Weekly Blog 2/25/19: I Illustrated A Video Game (And Can Finally Tell You About It!)

Hey guys! Taylor here. I’m very, very excited to be able to finally talk in depth about this cool project I’ve been doing.

So, as some of you know, I’m an illustrator not just by passion and hobby and self-employment, but in my day job and on a freelance basis as well. In English: I paint on my own time, but my day job is also painting, and ALSO when friends or clients outside of work ask me to do some art, I can sometimes pitch in and do it.

A while ago, I was approached by a friend, whose game development label, OgreWare, was coming up with a cool little smartphone idle game. They needed an illustrator, and I needed grocery money. It worked out well for both parties: We put out Calling All Heroes this week.

CAH has been a huge part of my “behind the scenes work,” stuff that I haven’t been able to tell you much about, for a while – and now, the game is out and I finally can tell you about it!

For more about this project (and a little speedpaint of some art I did for the loading screen), check out the video below.

To those who heard about this on my Instagram or YouTube and have followed up and played the game, thank you! And if you haven’t played the game yet, you can click here to get it on Google Play. You can also check out OgreWare at their website, OgreWare.net.

That’s the update for this week. I know it’s short, but I am already a day behind on this post, so it’s going up on Tuesday rather than Monday…I apologize! I really try to post daily, but yesterday just ran away with me. All good stuff, just VERY busy.

I have more content coming in the next few weeks and beyond, so stay tuned. Also, how do you like the “embedded video” format? Do you prefer when I stick to just text here on the blog? Or does the video enhance the experience? Let me know!

Talk to you soon!
Taylor

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 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