Renegade and Life Since

Okay I can breathe! Renegade Craft Fair has passed and here are the things you need to know:

  1. I got more value from the experience than I ever expected, but it came in a different format than I anticipated. This means that I did not make a lot of money but I gained a lot of intangible value. I made a lot of new connections and saw the way real artists are living and breathing. I saw the way they pour into their art in a constant flow and the way they believe in it. I saw the way their friends and families show up for them because they believe in it too. I saw the way my family and friends showed up for me because they believe in me. I saw the way I have to be if I want to be this way.

  2. It was very cold and rainy and I was inside of a white tent which reflected the light in a strange way and made the whole thing feel kind of like a dream. Also I was very tired and drank a lot of coffee which put me further into the dreaminess.

  3. I felt kind of like one of those old fashioned traders from the books who makes things and then goes on the road with their box of things and sets up shop on the road and then the city people come by and wander through. And at the end of the hard day’s work, I would put all of my things away in my wagon and take the journey home only to return again at daybreak.

  4. My friends showed up as the angels that they are. They dropped me off early in the morning with all of my things. They came with almond butter jam bars in the middle of the day. They came with hot nutella-flavored almond milk lattes. They came to see my things and support me. I felt so lucky to see their faces amongst all of the strangers. And my new boyfriend came and stood in my booth for hours, letting me leave the whiteness of the tent and see the other artists. And I loved the pride in his voice as he talked about my work to the strangers.

  5. When I saw all of my things in real life lined up together on the table, sitting atop a tablecloth. I realized of everything I had, the tablecloth it was all sitting on was my favorite. It was a thick organic linen printed brightly with one of my favorite patterns. The pattern has mushrooms and leaves and flowers and berries all over it. It’s earthy, yet bright and has a retro feel to its curves. And if I had a tablecloth for as many times as I heard “I would buy this tablecloth,” I would be a prosperous little pioneer. So I’m now veering in the direction of textiles. I love the feel of the fabrics and the realness of them and they seem much more practical than paper goods. Not that things necessarily have to be practical but it’s mostly just a gut feeling. So keep your eyes out for my new Renegade Pattern.

Then Sunday night after the fair I fell into a deep melancholy. I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. I was tired in a profound way that would not allow sleep to come to me. I probably definitely had too much caffeine and I got stuck on the thought that I could never be an artist because I just did not have what it takes. I decided I had absolutely no new ideas and that I never would and then I started thinking about how much I miss my parents and my sweet grandmother and the California sun. And everything poured over me and I felt it all very thoroughly and my boyfriend told me to name the things that I was grateful for and I said my friend Sue and him of course and that I got a chance to be at the fair and all the new knowledge I have and I can’t remember the other things. But basically it just reminded me that I am working every day to create myself and it is very silly to think that the work will ever be done. I can always be different and new and growing and learning and I must not imagine a space where I have made it and that is all to be done because that is not a real space.

So then I went to work the next morning and I got this article from Girlboss in my inbox that said “How do you know when you are burned out?” And I read it to determine that I was in fact burned out. But what was interesting was that it said when you really burn yourself out you need to be careful because it hurts you in deeper spiritual and psychological ways, not just physical ways. So I said okay this is my day and I went to the dentist and got my teeth cleaned and then I got my nails and toenails done a very beautiful blue color that everyone really likes and then I got my hair trimmed and the guy told me that my beach waves are highly desirable and this made me smile. Then I went home and ate a large yam with some Earth Balance and I slept very soundly. I felt a lot better the next day and I was ready to clean my house because it had gotten very messy in all of the chaos so I cleaned it a way it had never been cleaned. You should have seen me with my buckets of soapy water scrubbing my front door.

Then last Thursday was art club and it was a small group and there were new people which I love. I made vegan lavender scones and I had fresh berries and guacamole.  We had a good chat and I pulled my dresser into the dining room to paint. This is the dresser I have literally been working on for six months. It all started when I saw this old floral-painted dresser that looked like it would be found in an old mansion somewhere in Japan (I’m going to Japan next spring to see the cherry blossoms!) and I wanted it very badly but someone got it before me because it was on Facebook Marketplace so I decided I would remake it my own way. This is the first time I have ever done such a big and detailed painting with acrylic paints which to be honest I really don’t like much because I find them difficult in the way they move under my brush. They feel very plastic-y and they are pretty see-through so you have to do lots of coats. But they had to be used for this project and it is really coming along finally. Slowly but surely. I love my art club so much. It makes me feel free to play and I think it makes the guests feel that way too which brings me a lot of joy.

That weekend I went to the Logan Square Farmer’s Market and bought some Hawaiian dark chocolate. I had a nice vegan brunch nearby with my boyfriend and then I met a friend at this little place in Logan Square called Common Ground. Basically what it is is a tiny little shack in the middle of the square and you would probably just think it was a shed for garden tools or something but no it is an art space and inside me and my friend who is this very lovely red haired artist who is the closest thing to a fairy I have ever come—we went inside. There was us and 5 or so others and the artist leading the event was a dancer and he had a sweetness about him like a puppy and they closed the door and turned down the lights and their was a trendy and techy-looking sound engineer in the front and the dancer directed our movement in a yoga like way, using the categories of direction, speed, flow, and space to explain. But basically what it was for me was that I felt so free twirling around in the afternoon light of a Sunday in a shed in the middle of the square. I knew on the other side of the walls, there were people picking up their veggies and passing by to get coffee with their family and just going about their daily lives which made it feel fun to be in there secretly and weirdly moving around to techno music. Then at one point the rain poured so hard that I thought the roof might collapse from the force of it and it all felt so liberating.

After that I went with my two of my new friends to a secret concert in a big warehouse in Pilsen that also happened to be hosting an alternative art fair and the whole setting was so perfect. I also ran into an old friend there, which was so lucky. We sat around on the floor listening to live music and then at one point we danced and then we had dinner together and it was all very, very lovely. It is honestly so exciting when you meet new friends and they feel like they are old friends right away and you are laughing and talking and not thinking about what they think of you at all, you are just being they way you are. That is the best.

Then I had a week of work and I started two new design projects and also went kickboxing for the first time and which I am now completely into. And my friend returned from her bachelorette trip to Cabo which also made me very happy. Then this week led to Memorial Day Weekend which was full of too much content for this already very long post. But basically the last few weeks as the weather warms and my first (and last) school year as a teacher draws to an end, I am beginning to feel myself again. All of the things I was missing are coming back to me. I am both terrified and liberated by the unknownness of the next few months of my life. Just last night I came to the realization that I would be just fine and I smiled to myself, saying “I TOLD YOU SO!”

How to be an artist?

Hi world welcome to my first blog post! I have so much to tell you that this blog finally had to be born.

So I decided this year I would be an artist.

I had always wanted to be but I was only partly committed to it. I definitely listened to the cynics who talked about how hard it was to make it in the art field and that set me back a bit. BUT this year I was like hey this is my life and I want to be an artist. I’m the only one who has to sleep in my bones every single night so I’m the only one who can really decide and make it happen. So I committed myself to it fully. I just decided I would be an artist. It might sound very simple, but that’s because you are thinking that when I say I decided it was as if I just said something and then it became true. But that is not the true nature of deciding. To decide something is to give birth to the thought, then to let it leave you and come back to you a million times until you finally think that you and the thought are actually better being the same thing so you keep it with you. To decide something is to every day remember that the thought is now a part of your flesh and your toes and your hair and also a part of the part of you that is existing within your body but not made up of it at all. To really decide something is different than deciding blackberries are your favorite berry because to really decide something is to make it a part of you.

Okay so that’s the spiritual version, I suppose. Now here is the actual sequence of events: I got super hyped and dedicated the year to all things art. (Side note, I also decided this year would be the year I went to Europe and that I took my sweet self to Paris. And I will write you a blog post about Paris another time because it deserves its own).

So anyways I applied to summer residencies. I networked. I joined clubs. I started a club! I created. A lot. I worked on something every single day. I made artist friends and started dating guys who would paint with me. And I decided I would have to get into Renegade Craft Fair.

Now this is the cool part because when I moved to Chicago a friend texted me saying that I should go to this awesome art fair because it’s so cool blah blah and I’m like yeah definitely but never really tried to go. Then a friend in Chicago randomly surprised me by taking me there. The day we went I remember very well because it was in a random part of town and I discovered this girl who printed her illustrations on soft organic baby clothes and this guy who made Japanese ceramic weed pipes. And the jewelry. Ugh, I am such a sucker for jewelry.

And I remember I got an almond milk latte and then it started to pour rain very hard and everyone just ran. We tucked ourselves under the 2 foot awning of a nearby building as we waited for our Uber who was some obscene length of time away. I was feeling very reflective as I stood there in the weather pressed up against the wall. I thought wow those artists are all completely badass. They make beautiful things while caring about the environment. They are creating with intention and that is different than just creating. I thought wow I would love to be a part of that community.

That was two summers ago. Fast forward back to real time. I applied early this spring. I heard back a few weeks later that I was waitlisted. This disappointed me because I was like daaaaamn, I am kind of almost in that realm but not actually there yet and I really wanted to be there so badly.

So I was like okay, and I quickly deleted the email and didn’t really think too much about it. I just kind of wrote it off and didn’t go balls to the walls in preparation for it.

But meanwhile I was doing lots of other art and general creating and living in a good way. I found myself in my first full time art-field job, getting paid by a place where I am literally creating art every day. And my freelance business started budding like a sweet little spring tulip. All of my friends suddenly all had really cool projects for me or sisters who needed something just like that. People started finding me online. And I got into an art and yoga residency in India (which I opted to defer in favor of an art work trade gig with my mentor in Hawaii who is this insanely talented and firey New Yorker turned Maui hippy/gold jeweler. She makes this ancient Egyptian-looking gold jewelry and she has this one ring that is a snake and he has two ruby eyes which is my birthstone and I love it and I love her). So anyways yeah, I started getting a lot of jobs and making a lot cooler, better art. I started a women’s art club and would basically only hang out with people if they would do art or yoga with me.

And through my whole creative-only-dating-rule, I met this guy who is a photographer that goes to school with me at Art Institute. He has great style. He wears this shirt that really like that is black with white polka dots. I like it when he wears it with the acid-washed retro levis. He supports my artistic practice unlike anyone I have ever met. He listens to every “brilliant idea” with the same fervor as the first time I said it. He’s funny and my friends all like him and he calls me beautiful a lot, so now he is my boyfriend.

So all of these good things are happening and I go to Paris which is amazing and then while I was there, I got an email that I had a spot at Renegade if I wanted it. And of course, I didn’t read this until I was back at work on Monday after Paris because I wanted an email break. But it was great because I was all melancholy to be back home and have to go back to work and do normal life so when I saw this I was so happy and excited I could barely believe it!

So from that day, I had three weeks and in the last three weeks I have been completely absorbed in my art, getting everything together. It’s been SO cool to see everything actually come together. Like making art is one thing. Designing designs is so necessary. Putting them on Photoshop mockups is really helpful. But it is something else entirely to make your art alive in the physical world. To find big printers and watch your designs emerge slowly from their dark caves. To research the best compostable plastic to keep your newly printed stationery safe from the elements of a stranger’s purse and then to wrap them up carefully and individually with their own little envelope. To sample fabrics with your hours and hours of work soaking their delicate threads. It makes me feel like Andy Warhol in my whole production phase. It’s as if everything I have ever designed was in reserve and just waiting for me to make it real. To produce something is a very different part of the creative process and I have thoroughly embraced it.

I am so grateful my community’s support of me. My friends have all been there for me with everything. Teaching me to use a sewing machine and spending hours shopping for the perfect display items, volunteering to drive me or sit with me in my booth in case I have to pee, giving me their opinions on everything. My bosses at work have offered to advertise the show. My family wants to buy everything.

The whole process has been completely enriching. I was thinking last night that if I worked this hard all the time, I could really be an artist. But then I also might die of stress and lack of sleep. I always remember how my college professor told me that I have a California laziness about me. She said it in a way that was like you don’t do enough, why are your projects never fully developed. For a long time, I thought the slowness about me might be the death of my art, but now I think it is actually the lifeblood. All of my best works were born in a presence and a slowness and then prepared and brought to life with the energy and striveyness that is generated in those moments. In all of the craziness of preparing for Renegade, I have realized that this ebb and flow will be the way I successfully become an artist.

I’ll keep you posted on this theory and I’ll let you know how the fair goes. I’m very excited to meet my new fans!