Semi-Weekly Blog 10/16/19: Doll Customizing, Etsy Shipping, and Inktobering!

Hello all!

It may be a few days late, but I am DETERMINED to get this blog out.

So, I’ve been…pretty darn busy. Even aside from a full time job, I’ve been trying to do Inktober 2019, customize and sew for dolls (you can see some of that work over at http://taylorjohnsondolls.com), and run my Etsy shop.

It’s a lot. Inktober involves a good amount of time each day, not just sketching and inking but also filming and editing videos of my work. I’m posting weekly updates on my Inktober progress, and while they’ve been going up on Wednesdays rather than the more calendar-appropriate Mondays or Tuesdays, at least they’re going up. I’m excited to be able to have records of my Inktober progress, in video form. Here’s week 1’s video:

Inktober is totally worth it, though, as usual.

Sewing and doll customizing is my main hobby right now, in terms of “activity that does not, and does not need to, result in income or some other goal”…it’s my one thing that is legitimately just for fun. I enjoy it so much. Sewing has been part of my life for ages, and…well, here’s the video of me telling my whole sewing story on my doll YouTube:

And as for my Etsy shop – well, I can’t give many details because I want my customers to be able to remain anonymous if they choose – but I’ve gotten to ship a lot of things lately, and I am truly, deeply appreciative of everyone who has been ordering things, especially my original Tarot deck, the Millennial Mystic Tarot.

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Which, incidentally, you can order here, if you’re interested.

I think that’s all I have for now, and this is definitely all the time I had to write this blog. I’m sorry it’s late, but I’m glad to at least get a blog posted this week.

Thank you all for your support, and with that being said, I hope that you are having a truly excellent day, and I’ll talk to you again very very soon.

Bye!

-Taylor

Weekly Blog 10/7/19: Where Have I Been?

Hi all,

It’s been a little while, but I’ve got a (rare) few minutes to sit down and write a blog. Carving out time for this blog has been a little bit beyond me lately, and I even considered deleting the blog portion of this site and converting it to just being a portfolio and glorified contact form…but honestly, I didn’t want to give up blogging – even if I feel like I don’t have time for it lately. I really enjoy the blogging process. So yeah. Not going anywhere.

I’ve also been largely on hiatus from my YouTube, and I just posted a video explaining that I’m kind of returning to it: I’m going to start posting videos again, but kind of on a “whenever” basis rather than having a strict upload schedule. And there will be less videos than in the early part of this year (I used to do 3 a week), but more than the two a month I’ve done the past couple of months.

So why am I struggling to find time? Well…two things. One, I’m working full time now, and I’ve learned that it’s called full time for a reason. (Spoiler: It’s because it fills up all your time.) I absolutely adore my job and my company, and it has changed my life in the best way. But it doesn’t come without a cost, and that cost is a lot of my previously-free time.

Two, I’m running an entirely new side project: Taylor Johnson Dolls, which has a website, a YouTube channel, and an Instagram, all focused on my work in doll customization and sewing.

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One of my fashion dolls, an Ever After High Ashlynn Ella, in a flannel shirt by me.

I actually have been into dolls for years and years, and recently tumbled back into active presence in the hobby. I’m thrilled to be back to it, and while it does take up a lot of time, I felt that I really do need a hobby! A genuine hobby, to me, is an avocation that is enjoyed without a clear plan or goals or things to accomplish in terms of growth or publicity or acclaim; it’s just for the sheer joy of it. Doll customizing and doll-clothes sewing are two things that I love as hobbies, and are also two things that, for me, do not have an end goal or any grand scheme attached to them. It’s literally just a thing I do for fun.

So, if you’re interested, or just curious, head over to taylorjohnsondolls.com for more. I also have free patterns over there for those who are similarly inclined.

As for art…while I haven’t had much time lately for art beyond what I do at work, I still haven’t been able to resist the siren song of Inktober. I really enjoyed my other participation, back in 2017, and while it’s probably not wise to do so, I’m doing a series of simple ink pieces on 9×12″ paper for this year too. I may watercolor some or all of them after this month is over, but I am certainly not taking on the project of doing a PAINTING every day when I can barely manage an ink piece!

I had said that I was going to post a few YouTube videos this month, documenting Inktober, and I have filmed all of my ink work so far, but I don’t know whether that’s an appropriate use of my spare moments. I don’t know if I can – temporally or mentally – afford to do that as well.

If it comes down to it, I’ll drop some things. Sanity and safety come first, followed closely by my day job. But for now, I’m hoping I can manage all of this, if only I choose my battles and am mindful of my time management.

That said, I really need to get back to work. Thank you for reading and for being here on this artistic journey with me.

Wishing you the best, as always!
-Taylor

Weekly Blog and Video Digest 7/15/19: Weather, Ecological Consciousness Ramblings, and Etsy Shipping Issues

[Image caption: A photograph of a Tarot card, the Page of Wands, from the Millennial Mystic Tarot, depicting a young woman climbing through a desert in the Southwestern US heat. End caption.]

Hey all! It’s Taylor, with the weekly blog and video digest. I’m a day late but I hope you’ll forgive me. I’m going to chat here a bit about oracle cards, and then we’ll get on to a summary of (and embedded versions of) the videos I posted this week over on my YouTube channel.

The summer has been going well. It’s been kind of crazy hot…okay, totally crazy hot, here in Virginia, USA. And it’s only July – August is our crazy-hot month. Honestly, I am deeply concerned about this planet, and while my intuition tells me that things will get better for this world and this species, that same intuition also tells me that “It’s going to get worse before it gets better.” Not a good feeling, but that’s what I sense.

Still, I continue to put one foot in front of the other. I try to make decisions, both day-to-day and more long-term, that are good for the Earth. For example, I’m looking at buying my first car, and while I could buy something less expensive that is older, or I could buy something “hot”… I’m trying to focus on fuel-efficiency as being one of my main priorities. I may not be able to afford a Prius or other hybrid, but I AM looking for the very most fuel-efficient car I can manage, considering budget and other restrictions.

And about the car – it will have at least one positive effect on YOU all: For those of you who have been waiting 5-7 days for me to ship things…I should be able to ship things much, much faster once I start driving myself! Up until now I have been relying on buses to get me to the post office, but now that it’s so hot, I have to rely on friends (it’s too hot to walk even the short 1/2 mile between the bus stop and the postal office). And while my friends are awesome and very kindly help when they can, I usually only get to the post office once a week.

So, assuming I can get myself a car, I will soon be able to drop that shipping time estimate back down to 2-3 days, which is mostly processing time anyway. Hoping to get that set up soon, but until I, you know, purchase a car, please bear with me.

Also, one last thing…I really need to do a video or blog post or both about Etsy’s RIDICULOUSLY BAD new shipping policies. They are essentially forcing some of their own (deceptive, manipulative) ideas on already-struggling shop owners, just so that THEY can make more money – all while lying to our customers. It’s some BS, and I don’t think most Etsy shoppers are aware of it.

So I’m going to be, uh, doing a bit of an exposé soon. Sorry, Etsy, but if you’re going to be this bad, we – the shop owners, essentially your suppliers – ARE going to take it on ourselves to educate each other and our customers.

With that said, let’s get on to something a little more fun – this week’s videos!

7/8/19: Unboxing Goulet Pens Package | Fountain Pen Haul!

In this video I just unbox some fountain pens and fountain pen supplies, and walk you through what I got and why. Everything was ordered from GouletPens.com, a great fountain pen retailer.

7/10/19: Using Tarot and Oracle Cards for Story/Novel Development

I have wanted to make this video for QUITE some time!! I’ve used Tarot cards for storytelling for a long time, and I’ve found it incredibly helpful…so I definitely wanted to share some tips and techniques with you all. I know there are some writers out there in my follower-base so I hope that it was helpful for you!!

7/12/19: Summer 2019 Planner Lineup

So, this is some of the books and planners that I’ve ended up using for summer 2019. As of July, I HAVE moved into that Recollections spiral planner, and I LOVE IT…tour of THAT one coming in August.

That’s all the videos for this week. I hope you enjoyed them!

Thank you for reading. If you’d like to support this blog, the channel, and what I do, please head over to my Etsy shop and get yourself a little something – or, just subscribe to the blog, my YouTube, and my Instagram. I promise that Etsy Exposé is coming soon, so stay tuned for that.

And with that being said…I hope that you are having a truly excellent day, and I’ll talk to you again very, very soon.

All the best,
-Taylor

Weekly Blog 6/3/19: Prep Week, Launch Day, and Other Schedule Struggles

Hey guys! It’s Taylor, and today is Monday so it’s time for the weekly blog and video digest. I write a blog every week here on my homepage about what I’m doing, what challenges I’m facing, and what you can expect to see in terms of content from me in the next few weeks.

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This is prep week. Launch day for my  Millennial Mystic Tarot is 6 days away, and I am doing my best to be as ready as I can be. It’s a little terrifying. A lot of people have posted early reviews and/or helped to hype it up, and I am SO grateful for that! It has been amazing to see the community come together to share and support this deck, and I am forever in your debt. All of you.

I’m also currently working on creating the illustrations for my next deck, the Sacred Storyteller Oracle. I’ve got a few done and they’re posted here. I’m working on Arches and really enjoying the benefits of that paper.

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I’ve joined a journaling challenge, the #hbnotebookchallenge by Sarra Cannon over at HeartBreathings. Sarra is an incredible indie author and also a stationery fan and has started this awesome challenge to help people use up their unused notebooks, or boost their journaling practice. My participation is going to be using up a 64-page standard Traveler’s Notebook insert every month for the rest of the year. I’m enjoying it so far and I love having a reason (ok, excuse) to journal way more than I had been.

Finally, here’s an overview of this week’s videos over on my YouTube:

Painting an ATC | “Doll in Shadow” + Anxiety Chat

This is a video I’ve wanted to make for a while. It’s just a little chat about my experience with anxiety disorders and how they’ve affected my life – plus how I’ve managed to deal with them.

Setting Up a 52 Pan Palette | 1hr Palette Setup Tutorial

This is an epic palette setup video where I set up a full 52 color palette! I’ve never used pans before, but since making this video and this palette, I’ve used it a lot, & it is now my main palette for EVERYTHING. I love it!

June 2019 Card Reading | Look to the Light to Heal the Dark

Finally we have my monthly reading for June 2019, featuring the Millennial Mystic Tarot as the main Tarot deck for this reading!

That’s about all I’ve got for you this week. Until next time, I hope that you’re having a truly excellent day, and I’ll talk to you again very, very soon!

-Taylor

Weekly Blog 5/5/19: Facing My Fears – Following Through After Failure (& Weekly Video Digest)

Hey guys, it’s Taylor! This week I want to talk a bit about how one faces the fear that often follows on the heels of actual or perceived failure – in other words, how to get back in the saddle after we screw up or fail at a task. As usual, I’m speaking from past experience and what worked then, but also what I’m going through currently, and what works now.

I’ve wanted to be a comic artist for about 17 years. Some of you have heard the story: 11-year-old kid, reading a newspaper article about manga, decides, based on that one brief article, to become a manga artist; kid spends next 18 years studying; kid now blogs at taylorjohnson.art about said study. So yeah, drawing American manga has been my passion for the better part of my life.

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I put out what I thought was going to be my debut self-published, home-printed comic book in February – then abruptly pulled it from the figurative shelves (my Etsy shop) after a true friend saw it and said “This makes no sense. I can’t follow the story. I’m sorry, but dude, it doesn’t read.”

Best friend ever, by the way. Friends will give you compliments on your work. Great friends, valuable ones, will give you critiques.

But it hurt like hell, and I sat and licked those wounds for about two months. Because i realized there was a bigger problem than Beauty For Ashes not being good. If I had slacked off on it, if I hadn’t put my all into it, then it sucking wouldn’t be a problem. It would make sense.

The problem was, that was my best try. I did put my all into it. I tried my best and it was still bad. Really bad.

If the comic that represented my latest-and-greatest effort didn’t even make sense, if it was a jumbled mess, I had a bigger problem. Have a bigger problem.

I dont’ know the first damn thing about how to write and design a comic.

Oh, I can draw. And I can draw in panels. Many people can. What I struggle to do is make a sequence if pictures in panels make sense, instead of being a jumbled mess. In other words, I know art – but I don’t know jack about sequential art.

So. Literally back to the drawing board. I dragged my feet for a while, but got kicked into gear at…a convention, actually. AwesomeCon 2019 had its ups and downs, but one very high point was talking with a female comic artist (whose name I have unfortunately misplaced). My boyfriend actually dragged me over and made me talk to her.

I, awkward creature that I am, started out with “Hi, I’m sorry.”

Fortunately, she was better at conversation than I was.

Finally I said “You know, I’m trying to think of a question that isn’t one of the lame ones like ‘how did you break into the business,’ so I’m gonna ask…What exercises do you recommend for someone trying to learn pacing and to make their comics make sense?”

“Start really small,” she told me. “Start REALLY small. Do a one page comic. And make it flow, make it make sense. Do another one-pager. Make it flow better. When you can do one-page comics, go up to three. Then five. Then ten. Once you’re able to make the most out of ten pages, you can start thinking about something longer – and when you do, it’ll be powerful, because you’ll make the most of it.”

It was revolutionary to me, though it shouldn’t have been. One page comics sounded crazy, but the more I’ve thought about it, the more sense it makes. Painters aren’t generally encouraged to start with a 40-foot mural; novelists aren’t (usually) told to start with a 300,000-word epic. Seamstresses don’t start with experimental gowns for the Oscars. And no comicker should even try to start with a three-hundred-chapter epic.

And yet that’s exactly what I’ve been doing – okay, not three hundred chapters, but even a 5 or 10 issue series is a big deal. (That’s 150 to 300 pages, in the case of most of my works’ templates.)

I’ve also not done my basic homework. I got Making Comics by Scott McCloud for Christmas two years ago, and haven’t finished it. Manga in Theory and Practice by Hirohiko Araki is sitting in my Amazon cart, but I have yet to order it. And while I read some Eisner works many years ago, I have never read his classics on comics.

So this is me getting back to work – or school – in the area of comics. I’ll check in here about how it’s going, from time to time, and I’ll let you know what I find.

For now, however, here is a first draft of my first one-page comic.

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The prompt was “what a baby bird gets up to during the day,” and my inspiration was my experience being a sibling for the first time – when my brother was born – and how strange and amazing that experience was, and how I wished so badly that I could help out somehow.

The initial feedback is that the story makes logical sense, and the reader can follow the story, so I’ll be continuing this practice for a while yet – I think it’s really going to help.

That’s all I’ve got for the blog section…without further ado, here’s a summary of the videos I put out this week:

4/29/19: Deck Collection Spring 2019

This is just what it says on the tin: an updated video of my collection of Tarot, oracle, and angel decks.

5/1/19: May 2019 Card Reading

This one is the May 2019 card reading for my channel. It’s an interesting one this month.

Speedpaint Portrait of Molly Roberts | Reacting to my Old Process

This is one I’ve wanted to do for some time – a reaction video, but just me reacting to the timelapse footage of one of my oldest watercolor paintings. It turned out to be both amusing and inspirational to see it. Plus, I painted Molly Roberts – how cool is that?!

Anyway, guys, thanks for tuning in. I’ll keep you posted about the one-page practice comics, as well as other projects here on Taylor planet. Have a wonderful week!

-Taylor

Weekly Blog 4/29/19: My First Month Full-Time, Back to Back Projects, and the Weekly Video Digest

Hey guys! It’s Taylor and I am here with your weekly TaylorJohnson.art blog.

This was my first month in my whole life working full-time. For me in the US, and at my specific company, that means putting in 40 hours a week, every week, unless I take PTO (paid time off – “vacation days”). It’s been…exhausting, I’ll be honest. And I feel like the weekends just disappear without a trace, never to be seen again, leaving me here on Monday morning going “what just happened?!” But, the work is me doing what I’m passionate about (art) and so I’m grateful just to have the job.

Not to mention that, well, more money than I’ve ever had at one time in my LIFE is about to drop into my bank account. Yes, that’s right, a single paycheck from this job is more money I have ever had to my name. It’s kinda crazy, but also wonderful.

Of course, a bunch of that – also my tax return – is going to go towards initial printings of the Millennial Mystic Tarot, my first self-published divination deck. I have not started preorders for the first “real” printing yet (that starts June 9), but I let a few of my close friends and family get in on the promo run, which is going to be 10 or 15 copies that will mostly go to reviewers and potential retailers.

I also started on the next deck. Sounds crazy, again…but I have taken 2 months off of painting cards, and I’m ready to get started again. Yesterday I painted the Altar and the Mask for the Sacred Storyteller Oracle, a massive 88-card oracle that is going to be my next deck project. I’m currently working on Arches paper, which is interesting to say the least because I did the Millennial Mystic on Canson. I love Arches, but it does feel quite different from what I’m used to.

Finally, I actually went to AwesomeCon 2019 in DC this weekend, and it was great. I’d never been before – my first convention was Katsucon 2019, in February, so this was only my second convention ever – and I loved it! SO many great costumes, shops, and booths. I got to meet MoonChu, whose work I know online, and also the awesome RatLadyArt. There were many more amazing people but those are two of the standouts. I bought some really cute “Witch Merit Badge” pins from Shelby Wolf, and they are the cutest things EVER. Get some if you can.

Finally, here is the video digest for this week!

Card Decks I’m Using for Spring 2019 | Tarot, Oracle, Angel Card Favorites

In this video I talk about the Tarot, oracle, and angel card decks that I’m using (or planning to use) in spring 2019. Spring is in full swing here in VA, and I’m really enjoying the earthy-but-lively energies.

ANGEL CARDS 111 Workshop | Full 2hr Angel Card Reading Workshop

I have been planning this one for QUITE a while!…This is a full, two-hour workshop on reading angel cards. I realized early on in my angel card journey that there were plenty of free resources on reading oracle and Tarot cards, but very few that were tailored to angel cards. Because I don’t believe that financial hardships should prevent anyone from accessing the incredible healing guidance of angel card reading, I created this workshop to be a free resource for those who can’t afford multi-thousand-dollar courses.
Grimoire With Me Ep. 4 | Why I Share My Grimoires Online

Another Grimoire-With-Me, a short one this time, in which I talk about why I share my grimoires online instead of keeping them secret and hidden. There are several reasons that I do this…and just to be clear, I don’t actually share all of my grimoires! I have a few magickal books that just don’t even appear online. But most of them I do share, and if you’re wondering why, check out this video.

That’s all I’ve got for you for this blog. Stay tuned to my YouTube channel for more videos, follow my Instagram if you prefer IG, and follow this blog to stay updated on all things Taylor Johnson Art, including my upcoming divination decks.

Have a great day!
-Taylor

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT Blog 4/22/19| The Millennial Mystic Tarot’s First Printing, New Project-mom Syndrome, and All My Feelings

Image description: A left hand, Caucasian, holds a medium-sized Tarot card, with the backing facing us. The cardback depicts four crystals, a crescent moon, and a night sky over an ocean. The background is vague and dreamy, and on the wrist of the hand is a tattoo: “I AM NOT AFRAID TO KEEP ON LIVING.” End description. 

Hey guys! I know I had another blog that was posted today, but I just HAD to get in here and share some thoughts really quickly.

I arrived home this afternoon to find a box in my mailbox from MPC – MakePlayingCards.com – and while it was no surprise, I’m pretty sure I had a very minor cardiac event taking  the box up to my apartment…I told myself not to get too hyped up, that this was just a test print, and that it was not going to be perfect. I’d planned to go upstairs, sit down with the deck, and write down notes on what needed fixing on each card.

Well, maybe I’m delusional from excitement, or maybe MPC just did a really great job…but the cards are flawless. FLAWLESS. I am amazed and thrilled and blown away. I can’t believe how GOOD they look. Everything is beautifully bright, beautifully saturated, and perfectly aligned on the card.

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I don’t know how I lucked out this good, but honestly, the cards are exactly how I’d imagined them and dreamed of them.

It is…an incredible feeling. It cannot be described; the best I can do is to say that I feel like a popcorn machine starting to really get going. I feel like bits of excitement are just exploding in my chest. I’ve teared up several times.

I know. I’m acting like a new mom. The Empress energy is a little too real right now. But I’m basking in it. I have never completed a project that took anywhere near this long, and it has been a thousand percent worth it. I feel more whole than I have in a while, more at peace, more confident and also more humbled by the forces around me. I am so small, so insignificant, and it is an honor to be used in this way by the Forces That Be to create what needs to be created.

That’s what I see the Millennial Mystic Tarot as. Something that needed to be birthed into this world. I just played the role of the creative womb, the artistic pathway through which it came into existence.

Yep. New project-mom syndrome, I guess.

I don’t have anything further to say, really, except that yes, a flip-through will be coming shortly, and I’ll be sharing more about this project as news about it comes along. For now, though, I am just so goddamned proud of my work, and SO freaking grateful for those who have joined in the celebration, previously or today, and are helping me to celebrate the creation of my first deck!

S/O to S, V, and A for being incredibly generous and giving their time to review; to Aunt B for always looking at my art over Messenger and giving me both compliments and helpful tips; my Mom and Dädd (in-joke) for supporting this madness despite the simultaneous very real madness; and of course to my love, J, for helping me heal and helping me to make it through this project mentally. Also, S/O to EVERYONE who has liked, commented, or followed me on social media during the past 18 months.

I AM going to be doing a giveaway of a deck, but it will be US-only due to complex giveaway laws. I’m sorry, but it actually is complicated, and some of the penalties are very harsh. I will be posting about that later on my YouTube and Instagram, as well as here – so subscribe wherever and you’ll be notified.

For now, I’m going to get some rest and just play with my new cards. Of all the decks i own, I’ve waited the longest for this one. It’s completely (and I might not be speaking out of bias) worth it.

Stay tuned for more photos and info on ordering!

-Taylor