I haven’t been updating my website ever since I started using Patreon in 2015 because Patreon was so much like Live Journal with the way you can make posts patrons only and I love that, but it seems like whenever I post a Patreon link to a public post, people don’t click it because they think they have to give me money or they feel guilty reading the free content and not contributing. I’m not sure if that’s what it is, but it feels like people are less interested in Patreon than anything I’ve ever done, so I’m gonna post my public posts here and my patrons only, behind-the-scenes or personal posts on Patreon, for friends more committed to the cause.
So where do I begin?
Today, October 16th, would have been my dad’s 63rd birthday if he didn’t suddenly die in his sleep two weeks ago. Facebook so helpfully reminded me that 3 years ago on this day, my dad and brother posted selfies for me on Facebook because they wanted to show me that my dad looked old now, which was something I wasn’t accustomed to because the last time I saw my dad prior to those photos, he was 48 and just his beard was greying. In the Facebook selfies, his beard is fully grey, and so is his hair. The photos made me think of seeing his body the day he died because that was the first time I’d seen my dad look old in person – as a corpse – and it was triggering.
I’m glad I saw my dad after he died though, because if I didn’t, it would feel like a relationship with him was still a possibility since he lived an hour & a half away, in Toronto, and we only spoke on birthdays, Father’s Day, and Christmas, on Facebook Messenger, so I never actually saw him, but he was still within reach. Without seeing his body, he still would have seemed within reach and I don’t think that would have been healthy for me. Seeing his body made it final and there was closure.
My dad was pretty healthy, but he was a lifelong smoker who enjoyed a drink after work, which I assume contributed to his premature death, and who knows? Sometimes people just die.
The name of the game now is how to move FORWARD, I hate standing still.
Overhauling this website was a big step in moving forward, a step I’ve been too scared to take because the task seemed insurmountable. The layout the site had before had been up for over 10 years, and a lot of the pages were outdated, plus, I had no idea how WordPress worked. I’d been sending traffic to Patreon for the last 4 years, rather than my site, because Patreon had the most up-to-date information and I was only posting content there. It was easier than overhauling my whole site, which I was going to have to do by myself because Blake didn’t have the time or desire to help me.
My site, to me, is an extension of myself. It is my “face” on the internet, so making over my site was like making over my self, and re-declaring who I want to be.
I want to be a successful artist. I want to be able to pay off my credit debt and go on a train trip across Canada using money I earned from making art within the next 5 years. I closed my Etsy shop because I wasn’t selling anything, and they raised their fees so high that the cost to benefit ratio was just no bueno. Plus, they started charging a fee percentage on your shipping cost, and then when they weren’t satisfied with that, they started offering premium search placement for sellers offering free shipping, meaning that everyone who didn’t offer free shipping showed up at the bottom of the search results. When 99% of your client base is American and you live in Canada, free shipping is simply not an option, so I decided to take myself off the board and stop playing the game. Without Etsy though, the only place I have to sell my original art is on my own website, but with my site being so outdated, I couldn’t have put up a “For Sale” page because it would have gotten lost amongst the clutter and old content. Overhauling the website was necessary if I wanted to sell any original art.
I want to be an artist who has family, a best friend, artist friends, and patrons – all IRL. More friends are great, whether they’re creative or not, don’t get me wrong, but without those 4 categories of people in my life, I feel unfulfilled. I have family, I’m good there. I’m satisfied with my entire family being the one I married, the two I gave birth to, my mom & her fiance, my brother & his girlfriend, and my Aunt Betty & Uncle Bill on Easter. There’s Blake’s family in the US beyond that, but they aren’t really part of my daily reality, so they’re just a bonus who pop up every now and then when they visit.
I don’t have a best friend. I don’t have anyone right now, besides Blake, to do stuff with IRL or playing video games. I’m okay with this one taking a long time, though, because last time I declared a best friend, I was just accepting the best person around me physically at the time and then I stopped looking. Yes, she was cool and awesome and I legitimately fell in friend-love with her, but I always felt we were just best friends more due to circumstance and that, given a bigger friend pool, neither of us would have chosen each other. It always felt like she felt “stuck” with me or that she was just putting up with me while quietly judging me. She came into my life in a crisis so I think there was a bit of attachment due to that on my part, and hopefully the next best friend will a) come into my life in a more positive way, and b) will be the last best friend I ever have because we’ll grow old together and then die in the same mansion that we lived in after our significant others died and left us all their money. #SquadGoals
Real life artist friends are something I don’t have. I have two artists online who I consider friends, but they can’t be there in person when I want to hold a fancy tea party, or take a trip to Michael’s or Curry’s. They can’t be there to talk about varnish or ink or business over an actual peppermint latte, in an actual Starbucks, while doodling actual doodles with actual pens. My former friend group appreciated my art and all of them supported me on Patreon, but they weren’t artists or art historians, so they couldn’t relate to techniques and materials used enough to talk about it in depth, or the struggle of trying to be a successful artist, and they didn’t have creative projects of their own to share, so there was no mutual art geekery, which I crave. I missed out on art school, which may have been a good thing artistically, but I feel cheated out of artist friends.
I want friends whose work I get just as excited about as my own and vice versa. This is a goal I’m actively working on by attending a monthly meetup for cartoonists & writers, which I figure is the closest thing I’m gonna find locally to colouring page artists. Blake and I have only attended one meetup so far, and then my dad died a few days before the last one so we missed it, but they all seem like okay people with various skills and talents we can relate to. They’re all younger than us, which is a little weird, but everyone was friendly and didn’t mind answering my questions on what they were creating, so at least it’s a beginning. If we continue going and getting to know people, this group may end up being the artist friends I crave. I’m keeping my eye out for other local artists to connect with in the meantime, and I’m on the fence about maybe doing a booth at some convention or event in the New Year. I’ll have to sell a few paintings or get a quite a few more Patreon patrons to pay for a booth though, so I guess that depends on how effective I can be at promoting my “Art For Sale” page online between now and then. I also don’t know which conventions or whatnot are good for my kind of art, so I’d have to research that as well. I figure though, since I want real life art friends, I should maybe do more real life art things. Makes sense, right?
Which brings me to patrons, and how they fit IRL. On my “Art For Sale” page, there are a few large pieces where, if the person comes to my house to pick it up, there’s a significant discount. This is to encourage patrons to meet me, see me as a real, live person, and potentially have a relationship with me beyond just a cash transaction. I highly doubt anyone would come to my house for any reason, but it won’t happen at all if I don’t put it out there, so I figured I might as well. Can’t make RL friends if you don’t meet them IRL!
It’s not just real life friends I’m looking for though, I’m looking to potentially deepen current internet friendships, and make new ones, through playing online games and encouraging people to join my Discord server so we can chat and hang out in real time.
So that’s my current RL friend strategy. I’m exhausted from trying not to think about my dad all day and I think it’s time for me to pass out, so hopefully this post wasn’t super boring and maybe I’ll post again tomorrow.