When pleasure is work, but work isn't pleasure.

"In a world of start-ups and side-hustles, have the blurred lines of work-life balance changed the meaning of leisure time? As WeWork offices replace Midtown New York's historic Lord & Taylor department store, The New York Times examines how work has replaced personal pleasure in the pursuit of escapism: "With the rise of the internet, shopping came to look like work, and work, in many instances, came to look like leisure..." - From The WWClub.com


When reading this yesterday on thewwclub.com, I was struck with a deep sense of sadness. Yes- this is what I've been feeling- the discomfort and disappointment of making your passion a career, and loosing the places where you can escape and find refuge. For so many years of my life, ARTmaking was where I did this. I'd sit and draw in my sketchbook at the beach or at the park. I recall giggling at the characters that would appear on the page: new friends.

But that changed. I got a full time job as an illustrator.

I started doing yoga a few years ago because it was the only world I could walk into where I didn't have to do anything except "be". I was a full time illustrator , working for a startup in the Sillycon Valley. I felt myself wanting to scream some days. There was this pressure to perform and to also retain my own sense of who I was an an artist. The two conflicted and took over all my waking time.

Since freelancing in 2017, I've eased off on my yoga practice and focused the majority of my energy and finances on building a business around my immense love of art and illustration. But this made it worse.

I can relate all to well with Rebecca Green's post about burnout
I asked some friends on Twitter about burnout. What do you do to remedy this thing? They responded with suggestions like, extra self care, Netflix, and not doing the thing that burned you out.

One might find self care difficult when the places you used to go to have a sign with "Work" spelt on it, staring right back at you like a "No Tresspassers" sign. I was always one to follow the rules, too. Learning to tear that sign off and make it sacred again is a practice that stirs up a lot of resistance and struggle, and therefore, fails to calm and sooth the heart that needs it so.

Scheduling time to experiment as an artist is important. Having a personal project that no one else in art directing is beneficial, and will keep you pushing through the drudge that seems to settle in some days. I'm starting to do this. But I still want to scream at my desk.

The most important part of healing, is sharing your feelings and experiences, and taking action to change. Support groups are effective because they allow you to empty out stuck emotion, and encourage your own personal path to whatever it is you need next. And if they don't do this, they we usually ditch the group and look for something else. And that still pushes us to along our path.

So I'm looking for support groups I will need to do something other than art for pleasure, at least for a while. I need more hikes, more singing in the shower, and less time being productive. This scares the hell out of me, but I must follow through. A question floats around... If I'm not productive, am I a nothing?

We shall see.

How have you taken steps to gain back our lust for life? I'd love to know, and I'm sure the more we share, the more we can tap into what will heal us forward.

Wins and new goals.

Maybe it's a bit premature to talk about 2018, but 2017 is almost over so what the heck.

I celebrated the release of a new picture book with Larisa Stephenson tonight, and it had me thinking about this whole year and what I would like to work on next year....which is in a few days. Although I'm proud to release this book, I look back on the past year as I created it, and more stuggle than I'd hoped to see.

I'm over all very happy with the work I've created in 2017. My clients and my author pals are a joy, and they gave me a lot of purpose. But taht purpose is dampened because I feel very unhealthy in my body. Even though I love making art, I resent sitting and doing it. My body screams back at me- elbow is janky, my tummy has been accumilating a couple of flat tires, and my brain can only focus for 30 minutes at a time.

Burnout? Yeah, a little of that. Diet and exercise regimen lacking? Most likely. Mental fog making it harder to see what needs to be shifted. For sure.

I have considered myself a healthy eater and an active individual, but this year has proven to me that something is not working. Even though I eat vegan, I've gained 15-20 lbs in 2017, lost a lot of muscle, and feel more mentally foggy that ever. I though vegan was good for the animals AND for me. But I'm suffering.

Tonight I read a little PDF by Arnold Ehret called, "Rational Fasting". It's free and full of wisdom, personal anecdotes, and research. Maybe it's a bit extreme, but it helped me uncover something that I needed to see.

He talks of "vegetarian gluttony" and the idea that moderation- true moderation- of animal foods and even processed [real] foods, are healther than the overeating of a vegetarian diet.

Ok. I do this. When I went vegan 2 years ago, I started eating like a horse. I am an emotional eater, and would eat to the point of discomfort when we went out to restaurants. I don't know why or where I learned this habit but I've done it for so long, and the new found freedom to gorge myself on "healthy vegan" foods enabled this addictive tendency. Even now, I don't really know what a healthy portion size is.

So here I am, eating fairly healthy, whole, real foods, and gaining weight. Feeling miseral, and not enjoying my art, my free time, my travel, because my body is uncomfortable. And all because I've tricked myself to thinking that because I eat nourishing foods, I can eat myself silly and still be ok. Maybe if I was running 4+ miles every day I would be ok. But I'm sitting at a desk drawing all day... because that's how you draw!

There are cultures all over the world that talk about health and longevity. They mention that eating small amounts is key to living longer and maintaining health. There is no vegetarian gluttony in recommended daily diet.

So 2018, I'm going to reclaim my wellbeing and give myself a chance to feel good again. I'm going to try a different approach to eating meals, and thinking about how much I actually need. Maybe I'll find that the space allows for more freedom, more comfort, and more ease- more focus to provide the best art I can, and tell the most truth I have inside of me!

Here here and happy new year!

I'll keep ya posted!


Rest and Digest

Underneight all of the paintbrushes, thick, rough, Arches paper, under the invoices, emails, sketches, digital comps, micron doodles... is nothing.

An artist is no different from the person next to them. Their gift is about constantly channeling from the cosmos and converting into a visual language. It's magical, yes. But so are many other gifts that rock.

We are all creative and have this incredible power to invent, solve problems, and express ourselves. But we don't create constantly. We consume information, download information, digest it, process it, then eliminate or express it. There are stages where we can't create, in fact, where we even need to rest. "REst and digest"- we've heard this before, right?

It's lke eating, digesting, pooping. It's like that.

Imagine, now, that you had to produce poop for a living. So you had to feed yourself and digest quickly in order to do this, alllll day. How fucking uncomfortable!

I feel like being a commercial artist is a lot like this. Some people are fine pooping art out all day. I envy those rare few. But I have a hunch that at times even they need a break.

And the others, like me, revered artists as a child. They were told they were very talented, and something there connected. The career path sounded glorified. Oh, to work on a movie like Aladdin! Oh, to paint like James Jeam! Oh, to illustrate a book like Shaun Tan.... Oh, to be as cool as they are!

In daily life, however, it is not glamerous and there is no glory. It feels unatural and forced. In order to keep up, one must consume at a higher rate, process the information timely, and constantly produce. Part of this is due to lacking expertise, and part of this is due to naivete. Because art doesn't HAVE to be held in this kind of cage. It doesn't have to conform to these rules. In fact, it won't. Even if you try to, you'll experience its power and own will.

So I come back to self care as I realize that I want a different path. And it's ok that I'm not a constantly pooping artist. I have my own cycle of consumption, digestion, and elimination, and I feel more whole and loved when I listen to it.

Keep Going!

I've been on a hunt this year to get published. I am learning how to connect with the community and show my stories. I admit, maybe it's working but I have had no yeses. Nada. A few "This is not a fit for me, but great artwork" and that's it.

I get it! I need to learn more and how to appeal to the industry. But man, it's tough putting your work out there that you deeply care about, and getting crickets.

The small part of me wants to give up. The small part wants to say "fuck it". But that's only the small part.

There's a lot of info out there, and what I've gleaned to be most vital is: showing your work, and creativly solving issues. That means revising, getting feedback, changing, tweaking. That also means sneding your work out there, showing it in Libraries, cafes, on social media. And most importantly, that means believing in yourself!

Now... I'm getting back to doing more personal work and letting my voice come through. Here's what's been coming out.


In other news, I'm heading back to California! I hope to be on the beach a week from now, drawing the seagulls and sand. New York has been really special and I'm sad to go. I might be back sooner than later, but until then I will revel in the Pacific Coast, and drink in its healing.

Sending you love and peace and kick ass vibes!