Fuck yeah, I’m an adult! So, stop wasting my time!

I think I’m becoming an adult. I realize that that is an odd thing to say, considering I am 25 and should see myself as an adult already, but I kinda don’t yet. Not that I see myself as a teenager, either… I’m just a “student”: That weird limbo area between education and the real world. In my 25 years of life, I have yet to have a job that completely covers my living expenses. I hope that will come in two years time when I am finally done school.

Physically, I know I have surpassed being an adult and have gone straight to being old. That happened at the ripe old age of 21. A serious hip operation would suck the youth out of anyone, I think. Now I think back fondly to the time when I had flexibility in my right hip, as I painfully exercise and stretch in the hopes of gaining it back.

By “becoming an adult” I mean taking control of my own actions and decisions without needing approval from anyone. There are people in my life who’s opinions and advice mean a lot to me, but I am coming to realize, more and more, that this is my life and I am free to live it how I want. I also take more stock in how I spend my time. Studying minimalism and mindfulness, working through Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, reading and attempting to follow Ruiz’s The Four Agreements, I’ve realized that they all have the same message: happiness is to spend your time intentionally doing things you love. And I have started to do that, trying to actively ween myself away from digital distractions and push myself to spend time doing things I want to do. And they are all right, I am happier! On the flip-side, however, I find myself more easily irritated when I have to spend my time doing something I don’t want to do, or doing something that wastes my time. Do I want to go out for drinks with people I don’t like? No. That would be a huge waste of my time. Would I get more out of going home and reading a book? Yes. Heck yes.

“I’m an adult. I can do what I want!” I use to ironically yell in a fake temper tantrum. But guess what, ladies and gentlemen… who are my life colleagues now, I guess… I am an adult and I can do what I want. So there! *Blows raspberry*

“Make it work!” Mondays: … How do I animate?

I wanted my videos to have animation in them. Animation was something I’ve always wanted to learn how to do, and it would give my videos a much more surreal quality to them if I hand made every inch of the frame. It would also be much, much, much more time consuming. Was I ready to commit to a project like that? Did I even know how to realize a project like that?


I had messed around with a green screen in a class once, and found it surprisingly easy to use. This was encouraging. Maybe I could act in front of a green screen and then add in animated backgrounds?

All I know is I’ve got a lot of work to do…

WEEKLY UPDATE: June 25 – July 1st. Busy, Busy, Busy!

This week

Day 24: I drew this at 9:30 am today, not so patiently waiting for the finale to be posted on a streaming site, while simultaneously avoiding any social media site or other possible place where I might accidentally find out who had been crowned America’s next drag superstar. I drew this without a reference because I was terrified of googling @sashavelour and having the result spoiled. So, at 9:30 am, as I said, I drew this image out of pure hope and faith that Sasha would be the seasons winner. AND I WAS RIGHT!!! AND SHE KILLED THE LIPSYNCS! Amazing! So happy! Bravo Sasha! Well deserved title. You are the perfect combination of beauty and brains, creativity and oddity. I can’t wait to see what you do next! #teamsasha
Day 26: Three-headed boxer with the winning punch!
Day 27. Drama, highlighted.
Day 28: tired.
Day 29: sweet dreams are made of this. Looking forward to sleeping in and staying home on the weekend.
Day 30: finishing off this months challenge with yet another drawing of @sashavelour She has been a huge inspiration to me since I saw her on Drag Race, blown away by her combination of intellect, oddity, kindness and pure talent! If you haven’t seen her lipsync to “No More I Love Yous” look it up right now!!


Now that a month of 30 minute drawings has come to a close, I’ve challenged myself to participate in the #sketchbooksummer challenge, where you have to fill a sketchbook in a month. I did the math: That means 3.5 double wide spreads every day. Doesn’t seem too bad. I’m looking forward to getting back to traditional mediums. It will be nice to have a moment to unplug, especially after a busy day teaching, something to quiet the mind.

This has been a crazy busy week. Too busy!

ESL camp started. There are 50 Mexican fifth graders visiting this week. All are very sweet, and OBSESSED with “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi.  Not that I can blame them… it is catchy as hell!

It’s me!
These are the team names the students gave themselves. They came up with them all by themselves with no influence from me.
I pride myself in teaching only the most vital English phrases. (But for real, they loved this game)

 

Ontario’s provincial coat of arms


We took them on a tour of Queen’s Park, Ontario’s Parliament Building. Unrelated, but check out this cool old bike light that I saw on display there!

Cool antique bike light from my home town!
Look at how it attached to the handlebars!

A close friend of mine is an event planner and he gets invited to all kinds of cool open houses. On Monday I was lucky enough to get to go with him to a hella swanky event at the new Globe and Mail building. Lots of delicious food – AND VEGAN OPTIONS! Hooray!… on reusable plates no less! (As someone trying to reduce the amount of waste she produces, I try not to use disposable plates or straws).

Gorgeous views!

The venue had no walls, which means gorgeous 360 views of the Toronto skyline. The best part, hands down, was the cocktails. My god! Strawberry-Rhubarb syrup, rum, whiskey, orange twist, ginger beer, gin from Canada’s north…. I had a little bit (read: a lot) of everything. Mmmm!

Normally there is only wine and beer at the events I go to. This line up is much, MUCH more to my liking!
Maybe I was enjoying the free cocktails a little too much? Naaw!
For entertainment they had an electric violin player, harpist and flutist playing covers of pop hits. Was pretty cool! This guy really got into it!

 

Tuesday, we took the kids bowling. I am very rusty and my wrist was not very happy about having to hurl heavy balls again and again. Am I getting old?

July 1st is the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Canadian confederacy, so there was a lot of big celebrations going on. Friday I went to see a Canadian music staple, The Barenaked Ladies. They were a huge part of my childhood soundtrack. I remember listening to the Maroon album on repeat on my CD walkman in the backseat, as I third-wheeled a date night with my mom. It was mainly to drown out Rod Stewarts “Great American Songbook” playing in the card. That was the hottest record among 50 year olds at the time. Also, funny story: One Christmas, my Oma asked my mom what I wanted for a present, and my mom said “The newest Barenaked Ladies CD.” My Oma, mortified and embarrassed, had to go into the record store and ask where she could find the Barenaked Ladies. Sorry Oma, but thanks for the CD! 

 

 

The Barenaked Ladies were fantastic! So playful and engaging, with such control of the audience; I couldn’t help but think “wow, these guys are Professional musicians.” I would definitely pay a lot of money to see them perform again! First Nation folk singer and Canadian Icon Buffy St. Marie played that night too. I’m glad I got to see her perform. The fireworks were pretty great too!

Thing I learned this week: The power of facepaint. I painted rainbows on my friend’s faces because they were going to be part of the Pride parade, and they apparently got a lot of attention, which was awesome! On Thursday, the campers went to see a Blue Jays game, and I spent the afternoon painting the Jay’s logo onto 50 children’s faces. If anyone wants a Blue Jay on their cheek, come see me. I’m an expert at this point! Finally, for Canada Day, I painted a Canadian flags on the faces of my friends, and even made new friends with a super-sweet couple by offering to paint them! Facepaint: bringing people together!

How was your week? What did you get up to? While I enjoyed my busy week, I learned that it was too much. I need more downtime! That is my goal for next week!

What am I watching? (In five words or less)

  1. Preacher, season 2
    “Best comic book TV Adaptation
  2. Fireworks!
    CN tower and City Hall”      
  3. Sasha Velour LipSyncs
    Expressive reveals YAS QUEEN!”

What am I reading? (in five words of less)

  1. Make your own luck by Kate Morross
    “Relaxed attitude to graphic design”

“MAKE IT WORK” Mondays: Bringing Leslie Taylor to Life!

Every Monday I want to share with you an element of my artistic process. This weekly segment is one half a personal endeavour, a journal of what I’ve been doing and how I’ve been progressing (or a document of regression), and one half an exploration into the artists process. I love learning behind the scenes information about things! I love learning how things were made, how ideas came about, what problems came up and how those problems were overcome. I know I’m not alone with this fascination, so I’d like to share my behind the scenes with you!


In 2015, I went as Princess Carolyne from Bo Jack Horseman for Hallowe’en. It was during this the creation of this costume that I was introduced to Mehron Liquid Makeup.


The coverage and colour was amazing, and once it dried it felt like I had nothing on my skin at all! I was hooked! My only goal for Hallowe’en 2016 became “pick a costume that required me to do awesome face paint”. Challenge accepted. I saw these gorgeous bellydancing wings online, bought them on a whim and decided I was going to be a, for lack of better word, “bird of paradise.” I went out and bought all of the primary colours of face paint, and this was the result: 

One part terrifying monster, one part beautiful work of art!

I knew I wanted to bring more face paint into my life. Enter Leslie Taylor. Remember my pink and red design from last week? I waited until I had the apartment all to myself and I stole away into the bathroom and got to work. I may or may not have spilled a lot of the red face paint on a pair of leggings and the floor, but that is neither here nor there.

As Gene Wilder would say, “It’s ALIVE!!!”

I am so happy with how it came out!

My next steps are:

1) Get royal blue contacts. This might be a problem since I need contacts to see, but when I’m rich and famous I can afford cosmetic prescription contact lenses, n’est pa?

2) Get a wig. In my design she has a YELLOW wig, shoulder length, with bangs. Is that the best fit with the neon jacket?

3) Face paint brings with it a new logistical issue. It is time consuming, uses expensive materials, and tends to stain my skin. If I still want to use it, I’m going to have to get strategic with my filming. The best plan would be to write as many scripts as I can and film them all in one go. Is that a sound plan?


Note: This post contains affiliate links. I only recommend products that I have used myself, enjoyed and benefited from. If you make a purchase through these sites, you’ll be supporting my dream of being an artist and living my life to the fullest, so thank you!

WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH MY LIFE? How to live a more creative and fulfilling life

Do you want to live your life more creatively? Do you have an artistic hobby but feel that you are just mediocre at it, and therefore have denied the possibility of it ever becoming a career? Are you unhappy with your job, your field of study, or your life in general? Are you not even sure you know what you like to do?

If the answer to any of those questions is “Yes,” my heart goes out to you. This is a tough place to be, and “hopeless, wasted potential” is a horrible feeling to sit with.

I have good news! You have the power to change your life! But how, might you ask? Well, I’m no expert, but I’m trying to answer those questions for myself at the moment and I thought I would share what I’ve learned and tell you what I’ve tried. I’m only at the beginning of my journey, but have already seen improvements to my happiness and sense of fulfilment. Hopefully this post will help you take the first step to realizing the same in your life.

SUGGESTION NUMBER ONE: READ!

I love self help books. I think they’re great. At the start of my journey I spent an hour or two in a bookstore browsing their self-help section and writing down the titles I found interesting. I went home and put them on hold at my local library, because I am broke university student and can’t afford to buy every book that catches my eye. The library is a great place to check out books, risk free! Since placing all of those holds, a new book seems to come in for me to pick up at the library every week! It’s like a free subscription service for books! Amazing!

Blogs are also a great free source of inspiration. I love blogs because they contain stories and advice that come from real people. They often come with updates, so you can see how that person progressed over time. Don’t worry, Google won’t judge you about the questions you ask it. And there is no harm in asking. Just keep a critical eye out in case you come across a website or two making promises that sound too good to be true, or cost money, or suggest radical life changes. Stay safe.

Books I recommend

1. “The Artists Way” by Julia Cameron

This is an extensive 12 week course contained in a book. This book will help you discover what it is that really matters to you, and what you want to spend your time doing. I am only half way through, and it has been very helpful. The Artists Way is critically acclaimed, with good reason. While I am not a huge fan of the religious overtones of this book, it is easy to set those elements aside and still receive the help that is contained in these pages.

2. “The Four Agreements” by Don Migeul Ruiz

I read this book in the park on a beautiful pre-summer day. It was poetry to my soul. In just 80 some odd pages, Don Miguel Ruiz teaches you how to take your life back into your own hands by trying to do four things: Be impeccable with your word; don’t take things personally; don’t make assumptions, and always do your best. I am just starting to apply the Four Agreements to my life, and know that they take a lot of work to live by, but I believe that they will bring positive change and growth. This book has been a best seller for ages. Supposedly it was the book that gave Ellen Degeneres the courage to come out and live her life truthfully! Oprah loves it too.

3. “Steal like an Artist” and 4. Show Your Work”  by Austin Kleon

I loved both of these books because they were quick reads that gave tangible, real life examples of things you can do to bring creativity into your life and turn your passions into a career. This blog was totally inspired by “Show Your Work” because Austin taught me that you need to put yourself out there, share what you’re making, because you never know what opportunities may come from it.

5. “Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo

This book started it all for me. I’m one of those people who needs to clean her room before she can start studying for a test, so environment is a big influence on me. Marie Kondo will help you declutter your life and create your own castle. Your house should be your favourite place on earth! Your room should be a paradise! You probably know already that you own more things than you need. Giving things away is scary, I understand. But I dare you to try it!

SUGGESTION NUMBER TWO: DO!

Now that you’ve read some things to get inspired and you’re motivated to actually get to work, that’s exactly what you need to do… GET TO WORK.

The number one thing I recommend is to set aside10-30 minutes every day to DO SOMETHING YOU LOVE. I believe that the thing that helped me the most was challenging myself to do a drawing every day. I only started this practice back in October 2016, and already I have seen my art skills get exponentially better. Austin Kleon agrees with me: There is power in doing something every day. 

To recap: The way to a creative and more fulfilling life has two steps: READ and DO. 

 

I hope this post inspires you! If you do happen to read any of these books, or have read them in the past, let me know what you thought about them! Have a favourite book about creativity that I missed? Leave it in a comment down below! I’m always looking for book recommendations. And, of course, if this post inspires you to create something, please share it with me. I’d love to see what you made!

Good luck!

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Note: This post contains affiliate links. I only recommend products that I have used myself, enjoyed and benefited from. If you make a purchase through these sites, you’ll be supporting my dream of being an artist and living my life to the fullest, so thank you!

“MAKE IT WORK!” MONDAYS: Introducing a look behind the scenes


Every Monday I want to share with you an element of my artistic process. This weekly segment, “Make it work!” Mondays,  is one half a personal endeavour, a journal of what I’ve been doing and how I’ve been progressing (or a document of regression), and one half an exploration into the artists process. I love learning behind the scenes information about things! I love learning how things were made, how ideas came about, what problems came up and how those problems were overcome. I know I’m not alone with this fascination, so I’d like to share my behind the scenes with you!

———————————————

I have been developing a character, Leslie Taylor, since January. It’s been a slow, slow, frustratingly slow process. I’ve been stuck seeing visions of the end goal and how great it would be if my ideas came to life without knowing how to get started. 

Eventually, like pulling teeth, bits and pieces of my vision has come to life. The fog has cleared a  bit and now I have a better sense of what I need to do.

Thanks to playing around with pastels, I have a better sense of what she is going to look like. I love hallowe’en and make up and masks and drag so I wanted to create a character that would combine all of those elements. I have always been drawn to Max Headroom, the witty, electronically distorted AI music interviewer and wanted to play around with an idea like that… but for the internet age. I wanted a strange character. Something otherworldly and bizarre, yet still friendly. She would be the drag version of myself: excited, passionate, nerdy, goody-goody, and probably not as funny as she thinks she is. 

Voila, my pink, red, and blue monster!

The Scary 9 Things about Starting a Blog

Everyone has a shitty blog to their name. Everyone who owns a computer with internet access has started a blog and after a post or two has left it to rot. Personally, I’ve lost count how many shitty half-baked blogs I have to my name. Every year or two I start a new one with new enthusiasm and gusto “This time, this blog is going to be the blog that works!” and so I go scouring the internet for advice: what platform should I use?; What advice to successful bloggers have for new bloggers starting out?  I find myself deep down a Pinterest rabbit hole full of words like “branding” and “social media optimization” and am subsequently filled with so much uncertainty and anxiety that my blog boner has wilted.

If it wasn’t for my morning pages repeatedly telling me that I want to start a blog and renewing my motivation to regularly post to it daily, this blog wouldn’t be here at all.

So here’s my advice from one just starting blogger to another:

#1″Pick your blog theme? How? I don’t even know what I want to write about?”

Whenever I read the advice to pick a theme and create a blog around it, I was like: “but, but, but I don’t know what I want to write about, and I know I certainly can’t limit it to only one thing?!” I decided to say “fuck that” and just write what I wanted to. My theme, then, if you must categorize it, would be “personality blog”, but that doesn’t even fit the mold. It’s an blog where I post artwork, share music and internet videos I like and then reflect or write long form about something on a Monday. That’s what I’m bringing to the table, and hopefully people will find it and like it enough to keep coming back every week.

#2 Quantity leads to Quality.

The blank page is a terrifying sight, I know, but you’ve got to overcome it and write. Just write about whatever. At the start it is all about getting over hang-ups and creating a habit of blogging.

#3 Social Media Optimizing?

This one is a good idea. If you don’t share your posts across multiple platforms then no one is going to ever find it. I have a twitter, and instagram and a facebook page which I share things to. It’s early days so I’m not sure how effective it has been, but my page views do grow with every day, so some progress must be being made. I highly recommend setting up a Hootsuite account because you can send out and schedule posts in advance all from one place, which is really helpful because, well, life happens!

#4 Make it personal!

I love reading blog posts for the human voice of the writing. If I didn’t want to get to know the author of an article I was reading, then I would read the news! Stay true to you. Don’t put on airs, because this blog is an extension of you. It’s your voice out there in the interwebs, so keep it respectful. A good rule of thumb I like to keep in mind is to ask yourself “Would I want to show this to my grandma? Would she be proud of me after reading this?” If the answer is no because she’d probably go and rinse my mouth out with soap, then maybe you shouldn’t post it. Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that the internet is a wonderful networking tool. You never know who could be reading your work. They could really like it and reach out to you for an opportunity, or it could be someone in HR researching your name after you submitted a resume. Moral of the story: put your best face forward.

#5 Find Blogger friends and Comment on their pages

Ugh. Barf.

This is something that I struggle with and rarely do myself. I think the fact that I read a lot of my blogs on my phone really influences if I leave a comment or not. Part of the key to having a successful blog (or so I’ve heard) is to comment on other people’s blogs. This is done with the hopes that they will come back and read and comment on one of your posts. I feel a little cheap doing this as it feels disingenuous, only posting a comment to get something back in return, so you need to ask yourself “why am I leaving this comment?” If it is because you genuinely enjoyed the content, then please leave that comment! If you only are doing it so that it leads to a page view for your adsense revenue, then maybe you need to rethink what blogging means to you.

#6 Always end blog posts with a “call to action”

Dance, readers, dance! Muahahaahaha!

I am so shitty at this. Part of me feels cheesy asking a question at the end because I’m like “everyone will know it’s just a cheep shot to get people to reply to me so that I am validated through comments” but no, it’s all part of creating a community through your blog. I started this blog with the hopes that I would find like minded people

#7 Schedule and write posts in advance

(c) Toothpaste for Dinner

As I said in point three, life happens. If you’re serious about your blog, you’re going to need to be posting regularly to keep people interested and coming back for more. If you have themed days, like how I have Tunesday where I share a song ever Tuesday, try to plan those posts well in advance, write them and schedule them to go. Hunker down one day and hammer them out, and then boom, you have just taken care of Tunesday for the next three months! I like to use Hootsuite to schedule advanced posts, and also have a good old fashioned paper calendar that lays out what I’m going to be posting when. Find the system that works best for you.

#8 Word limits, lists and click bait titles

There are so many limits put on bloggers before they’ve even started writing! “Don’t make your posts too long! People don’t like to read!” If people don’t like to read, why are they even looking at a blog? Word limits are something I really disagree with. I don’t want to edit myself to suit other people. Even if I post into cyberspace and only get silence in return, fine. Eventually I will attract the people who are willing to read slightly longer-form blog posts. Heck, I’m sure Dan Carlin got the same pressure to edit down his podcasts, but his 4 hour long, multiple chaptered Hardcore History podcasts have a huge following. There is an audience out there for everybody so keep doing what you’re doing.

That being said, as a student of Graphic Design and user design, people do love lists and bullet points. They love things that are easy to read and have lots of blank space that breaks up blocks of text. I wish there was a way to create columns in these posts to shorten the line lengths. Eyes get tired when they have to travel too far, lazy peepers.

To me, the urge to create a catchy title feels like selling out before you’ve even started. There is some truth to it though. But lets be real, hasn’t everyone caught on to those click-bait titles and can spot them and their horrifically ad-riddled posts a mile away? Dear humble readers, I assure you, if I ever use a click-bait-esque title, it will be done with the most heartfelt hipster irony and so I hope you enjoy it. A little wink from me to you.

#9 Have fun!

The truth of it all is the likelihood that your blog brings you fame and fortune is very slim, so if this is something you’re going to be putting your heart and soul into make sure you enjoy it! That joy will come through in your posts and your readers will be able to tell.

Let’s talk, dear readers!

Does reading a blog on a mobile device without a physical keyboard deter you from leaving a comment?

Are you thinking about starting a blog yourself? What is stopping you?

Is there anything you’d like to see done differently on this blog? If you’ve been checking in for a while, thank you! I’d really value your input!

Have a lovely week, guys!