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

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

Monthly Update December 2018 | Many, Many, Many Projects!

Hello everyone, and welcome to the December update blog!

I’ve been hard at work both at my day job (3D model design and texture painting), and my Tarot deck at home. The amount of work is heavy, but not unbearable, and I’m enjoying it, so I guess it’s a good deal. 🙂 I enjoy both jobs very much.

I’m itching to draw comics again, though, and I’ve got an idea in mind. Unlike my previous works, it’s not a gift for anyone – it’s a comic I’ve wanted to draw for some time, a story that aches to burst out into the world. It’s got the working title Paisley and Patch, and it’s the story of a rock star and a roadie. In one form or another, I’ve been writing this story since I was 15 or so, and I’m very hopeful about finally drawing it.

It’s a bit of a self-indulgence, but those often are the best stories. 😉 I’ll be reading lots of romance and drama manga to get inspired, and yeah, I’m just very excited about this very dear-to-my-heart story coming to light and to life.

But first things first, and that means that before I can seriously work on manga, I need to finish up my Tarot deck. There are about 48 images left to paint, and only 2 of them need to be inked (the rest are already ready to paint), so it’s just a lot of painting. I’m still on schedule to start test printing in March and have the proposed Kickstarter in June. I’m very excited about this whole thing. It’s going to be awesome. 🙂

I’ve been managing weekly videos over on my YouTube channel, which is pretty good by my standards. I was always a very sporadic YouTuber, but I’ve learned to build up a stack of videos so that I don’t actually have to do it every week, but rather have a bit of a buffer in case I get busy or things come up. Basically I work ahead of time and schedule videos, so that if I can’t manage to record anything, I can at least have those scheduled videos automatically posting for a few weeks while I get myself back together. 🙂 I’m currently about a month ahead of schedule – that is, most of December’s videos are already recorded, edited, and uploaded. It’s just a matter of YouTube posting them for me each week. Pretty handy!

Also, I’ve re-opened my Etsy shop, and I really appreciate the people who are shopping there. I don’t know how you’re finding my shop, considering that Etsy’s search algorithm has become really difficult to deal with, but you have, and I love you for it! I am so happy to be selling again, not even so much from a financial perspective (though it does help), but from the perspective of wanting to be of service and share my craft (notebooks, sewing, and art).

This is all a lot, but it’s helpful to be paper planning. I’m enjoying and having a lot of good results with my bullet journal, and have also been doing “daily diary” journaling to process thoughts and experiences. All in all, paper planning is helping me to keep it all together.

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I hope this blog finds you well, and that everything is going well for you. And until next time, as always…I hope you are having a really excellent day, and I’ll talk to you again very very soon!

-Taylor

Monthly Update November 2018 | New Name, New Site, New Day Job

Hey all, it’s me…Taylor.

That’s right, I am changing not only my URL (the main one is now taylorjohnson.art), and my social media usernames – but I am changing the very name I go by online. Julian Jaymes has been a fun name, but it’s high time I started to blog as myself – as Taylor Johnson. No fancy fake name, just my boring real one, but I think that going by one’s own name online shows not only a level of professionalism, but also a certain level of integrity. And integrity is something I value above almost all else.

I realize there was no blog for October, and I do apologize for that. Things have been absurdly busy over here. I got the job I mentioned in my last blog, and subsequently realized that having two jobs plus all my freelancing and Etsy work was just way too much. So I spent most of October just giving proper notice and easing out of that previous job, and finishing up some freelance projects, while trying to manage the new job as well.

I am, at this point, entirely employed as an artist. My day job is art; my personal work is art; my Etsy is, indeed, a kind of art. But the kind of art, the medium as well as the creations, vary widely.

In my day job work…well, I can’t talk much about the end product, but I can tell you that I am learning to be a texture artist for 3D and VR design. It’s pretty crazy to be learning HOW to do a job as I am DOING the job, but really, trial-by-fire is sometimes the best way to learn. So I am enjoying it.

In my personal work, I am still going strong painting the watercolor illustrations for the Millennial Mystic Tarot. I’ve also been doing some songwriting to cope with the absurdity of living in the world that somehow exists right now. I don’t know if any of these songs will ever see the light of day, or in what form they would be shared – but they’re certainly therapeutic to write.

And in my Etsy shop, I’m continuing to sell traveler’s notebook supplies and inserts, Tarot and oracle deck bags, and now actually some handmade jewelry and prayer beads!

So really, not a whole lot is different. I just don’t have to go to a receptionist job 4 days a week anymore. 🙂 As much as I appreciate that job and the opportunities it afforded me, I’m really, really excited to be moving on into my full-time-art life.

I’ll keep you posted, as always, on what I’m doing and how you can follow what I’m up to online. Thank you all for your support and understanding as I redesign my logos and website.

~Taylor

Monthly Update September 2018 | Tarot Reading, Angelic Divination, Day Job Advancement, and Enjoying Writing Again

Hey everyone, it’s Julian! Have I got updates for you…not much tangible, not much I can post, but lots of news.

First off, since everyone’s going to ask, here’s the latest Tarot cards I’ve painted:

Aside from that project, which yes, is ongoing, I do have several things going on…

Tarot Reading: I’m going to be doing professional tarot reading! Yes, that’s right, I will be offering tarot readings (as pre-recorded video sessions) on my Etsy shop, starting next month (or possibly a little later this month). Watch this space, as there will be a half off coupon posted on this blog when I do start doing them.

I’ve wanted to be a Tarot reader since I knew what a Tarot reader was, and since then, I’ve branched off into oracle cards, angel cards, and even channeling. I’m a certified card reader and I feel that after 16 years of study, it’s time to share my gifts with the world. So yes, if you’re interested in a Tarot reading, follow this blog to get notified when I do post that announcement and coupon.

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Angelic Divination: This is a side project I’ve been working on lately, and while it has its own YouTube channel already, I’m not sure yet whether it will be part of this site or have its own. I feel really moved to give it its own platform, but this project doesn’t really have a budget yet, so I’m not sure a site for it is in the cards. I suspect that once I’ve established it as a brand on its own, then I can invest in a site.

But what is Angelic Divination? It’s an approach to Tarot, oracle, and angel cards that uses the energy of the Archangels, and while it started out as just my own approach to such, it’s grown into so much more. I intend to make at least a few courses on this divinatory approach, and I’ll be posting them over on that channel.

Day Job Advancement: I have been selected for an art fellowship, so I guess you could say I’m going pro as an artist. It’s a little weird in that it doesn’t feel weird or scary at all, just…right. Which probably means I’ve been ready for a while and just haven’t had an opportunity/the courage to go for it! I’m very grateful for the opportunity, though, and don’t worry, this won’t change anything here…I’ll still be my same old weird comic-drawing, blogging, cardslinging self. Wild horses couldn’t drag that out of me.

But it’s very exciting to be essentially doing a mix of a day job and a long-term commission. I’ll be working at home, designing elements for 3D virtual environments, painting, as a part time job. I’ll…actually probably make more from this job than I do from my current day job. Which is appropriate, but still feels wild.

Enjoying Writing Again: I honestly didn’t grow up as an artist – I spent the first 15 or so years of my life intending to be a writer. Art was a hobby; writing was my vocation. Over the years, I got more and more interested in art, and sort of burned myself out with writing by authoring several novels while struggling with bipolar disorder.

I associated writing with my illness for a long, long time. I had concluded that since I wrote a lot when I was ill, writing must be encouraging my hypomania – an error of confusing correlation with causation – and so I stopped almost altogether. There is a gap of a few years when aside from journaling, I just didn’t write much. I was kind of afraid to, and it felt exhausting to even think about the amount of work it took to write a novel.

But this month I had to write a pitch for that day job thing, and when I let friends and family read just the handout for the pitch, I got some really positive feedback. People were surprised by how well-written and clear and elegant it was. I’m doing well right now, no hypomania, so clearly the writing was good but was also not the product of illness. Who knew I could write while in my right mind, too?

So I’m thinking I’ll just get my toes wet at first, and write some more frequent blog posts for this site. I have 2 or 3 more blogs written that are just waiting to be queued/scheduled, and I’m excited to share them with you. I’m writing more about Starseed/Lightworker stuff, as well as Tarot and art.

Also, it’s been a year that this site has been up, and I could not be more proud and pleased with the interactions I’ve had and just the pride I feel from having maintained a website all year. Feels good to have accomplished something like that.

Year 2’s goal: Get to 200 followers!

All the best,

~Julian

Monthly Update August 2018 | Re-Prioritizing, Final Stages of my Tarot Deck, and Why I’m Staying With Etsy

Hey guys! It’s Julian!

I have a lot of updates to post in this one, so let’s just get to it.

Re-Prioritizing

Last month (July) I attempted to do World Watercolor Month. I did not, in fact, succeed in doing World Watercolor Month – in that I didn’t complete it. I do feel that it was a success in that I quit for the right reasons: Three – no, now four commissions came in during July, and so I really had to let WWM go.

I am trying to think of it as reprioritizing rather than quitting. Really, making a speedpaint video for every day, on the day, AND painting every day, was ridiculous. But I managed it until the 17th – when a few BIG commissions came in. Not just “draw my OC” or “can you vectorize my logo” stuff. No, I’m talking “part-time jobs for the next few months” type things. I can’t tell you about most of them yet, but gosh I am BUSY.

The one I’m able to tell you about is that I’m now going to be handling all the social media and blogging for OgreWare. I’ve been working in partnership with them for some time now on their Calling All Heroes app game, and now I’m their social media manager! It’s pretty darn fun, I gotta say. I’m honestly not much a social media guru, but I’m learning, and it’s…like I said, pretty fun. You can check out ogreware.net and facebook.com/ogreware to see what I’m up to with them. Please do go follow their accounts, by the way, because you’ll get to see some of my art there that won’t be seen anywhere else.


 

BIG Tarot Deck Update

So here’s the most exciting thing I have today: I HAVE FINISHED INKING MY TAROT DECK. As of July 31, all the cards are inked. All 79 of ‘em. Fully inked. Ready to paint.

Holy carp.

It’s taken four months, which is actually just about what I expected. I intend to have all the cards painted in another four months, and will then take the second half of December off to recuperate. Then in the first couple months of 2019, I’ll sort out printing – and then my Tarot deck will be on sale in spring 2019!! So damn excited about that.

I will be using Mijello Mission Gold watercolor paints to paint this deck. To be entirely honest, I am not super super crazy about them; I much prefer the M Graham paints, of which I admittedly only have one, but which I’ve seen many reviews of and which I’m fairly sure I would prefer. But I wanted to buy a big set of moderately nice paints, to figure out which pigments and hues I like – then I could buy those individual pigments in a nicer brand. That was the plan from day 1. So I’ve figured out my sort of “12 color dream palette” list, and I’ll be purchasing the M Graham versions of those from Blick in a year or so.

I wasn’t a painter until this year. I’m a newb, and I still don’t feel ready to do this project, but it’s here, it’s time, and I need to just DO it. I can always do pieces over if I absolutely have to. This project already taught me so much about inking – I can’t wait to see what it teaches me about watercolor. 🙂


 

Shop Expansion

I’m looking into expanding my Etsy shop, and I actually wanted to talk a bit about Etsy. In defense of Etsy, actually. Most people these days are going “oh!! Etsy!! They increased their fees for no reason!! They’re awful!! Boycott!!!1!1” But honestly, Etsy is still the cheapest handmade goods salesplace around for smaller shops – most other platforms for online storefronts have a subscription fee or take exorbitant “commission fees” out of your profits. And Etsy has a massive marketplace following to boot. Most people who buy handmade goods and art turn not to Shopify or Amazon Artistans, but instead head straight to Etsy.

And no, Etsy has not paid me to say any of this. It’s based on my own research, and my own experience, which has been, overall, very good. I’m happy with Etsy for now. Someday, yes, I’d love to have a storefront on my own website and only sell through there. But for right now, considering the size of my shop and the amount of traffic I get, Etsy is ideal for me.

Anyways. About expansion: I’m going to be offering more new items soon, like stickers, a wider variety of traveler’s notebooks, and original paintings. To make room, I’ll be putting some items on clearance that either haven’t sold or that I just want to move along a little faster. So please check out the shop frequently – I’ll be updating it with new items and new sales soon! You can find it at http://julianjaymesart.etsy.com.


Well, that’s about all I’ve got for today. Until next time, guys, I hope that YOU are HAVING a REALLY EXCELLENT day, and I’ll talk to you again very very soon. Bye!

~Julian

Monthly Update July 2018 | World Watercolor Month, Video Creation, and Art Coming Naturally

Hey guys, it’s Julian and it has taken me AGES to get this update out, but here it is. 🙂

Things are looking better. Long story short, things are not nearly as dire as I’d thought, and while I am still likely going to lose my insurance and part of my income, the repercussions are not going to be (quite) as drastic as I’d thought. I’m still going to have my housing, my medication, and the treatments I need. I’m just going to have to work very hard to make ends meet.

But really, the future is looking brighter already. I’m working through the details of a really exciting collaboration – with my sewing, of all things! – and my Etsy shop is doing well. I’m really grateful to everyone who’s been shopping with me. It truly helps a lot. 🙂

I’m doing World Watercolor Month this month, which is…exhaustion. No, seriously, it’s an awesome project in which people paint 31 watercolor paintings in 31 days, and I’m doing it despite also having all this craziness going on…I’m really proud of myself, I’ve got 11 done so far and it’s the 10th. (I have to work ahead some days because I’m working so much at my day job that some days I can’t paint at all.) I hope to make it to 31 paintings by the end of the month. Here are the ones I’ve done so far…

That’s not why I’m exhausted though. I’m exhausted because I’ve been filming all of these AND editing them AND doing voiceovers AND posting them on my YouTube channel!

I must be delusional, to think I can keep this up for a month.

The worst part is that after this, I’ll be expected to do a video every day…or at least three times a week…because people think it’s that easy…I seriously don’t know how I’ve been able to put all of these together so far.

But really, it’s going to be okay. And after this I may be able to get more videos out, because I’m definitely learning a lot about videos and video editing in addition to learning about watercolor!

My art is flowing in a way it never has in my life. I just…churn out art. More, even, than what’s filmed and posted on my sites. It’s like I used to be a little inkjet printer that struggles to print a single page, and now I’m a high-capacity color laser multifunction that doesn’t bat an eye at 600-page documents.

Yeah. I’m feeling pretty good about my art lately. 🙂

Anyway, I had better finish this up. I’ll note that there is now a subpage on this site for my World Watercolor Month posts, and I’ve updated the Materials I Use page. I’m trying to keep active online, but that’s mostly happening on Instagram and YouTube. I’m hopeful that after WWM ends, I’ll be able to do more on this site – maybe posts some reviews or something – but for now, it’s acting as my portfolio and housing links to the places where I’m actually active. I apologize for the inactivity, but with any luck I’ll soon be back in business here. 🙂

If you have any questions or inquiries, you can contact me using the contact form. If you’d like to support this whole operation, please head over to the shop. Thanks for all your support, and have a great day!

~Julian