Jungle Babies

So, lordee I think it has been almost a year since talks began with a company I have been working with on lots of prototypes for lots of products. Still can’t talk about any of them, but I finished 5 more illustrations last night for the “big meeting” in September. None of this is a fast process and I knew that going into all of this a while back. I decided a long time ago what my long term goal was and that was one of the reasons I took this full time job in February. I knew I was going to have to be creating lots of art for very little or no up front money. I have stopped advertising for commissions, only taking them as they come in just to give myself the time needed to create the art for the lines we have decided to pitch.

I admit I have been getting very frustrated. The companies we are pitching to are huge, and not readily available. The meetings have already been pushed back several times, the economy factors in heavily and has caused us tom come up with other products that have a smaller price point in case we need to have something more economical to offer. I have been learning more and more little by little. I remember way back when, when I first met with this company that WOOHOO! THIS IS IT!!! Well, the excitement wears off as you realize that anything worth it takes hard work and TIME. I have spent many, many hours creating and will have (hopefully) have many ahead of me creating the rest of the lines if they decide to carry the products we created. And even then it does not mean money. It means lots of work and then getting it produced then getting it on the shelves whenever the stores decide to place it THEN waiting at least one fiscal quarter before knowing if the consumer even likes it. That alone is probably a year away, maybe less, but not much.

I have been working on my art, in this style for 6 years now. I have wanted to make my art commercially successful since the beginning. I smile when I think of how naive I was back in the beginning and thought there were actually such things as overnight successes. What I think there really is, is that moment in time when all your years of hard work, your dreams, your mistakes, failures, successes all finally come together because you never gave up. I have no idea when that time will be for me, but I try hard to think of all the successes I have had and continue to have as I work towards my goal. I try to live in the present as much as possible and allow myself to wallow in frustration from time to time when I just want to kick and scream and pout that what I can see so clearly in my head is just NOT happening fast enough.

Anyway, I pouted most of the weekend, then finally sat down Sunday night and worked on all the illustrations I promised would be done by the end of the weekend. And dammit, as frustrated as I get, and as much as I threaten to just quit and walk away ALL THE TIME lately, once finish my little characters I just smile that dumb smile and know that I can’t quit because I would be doing all this anyway and it just makes me so damn happy in spite of myself. (I am not supposed to show you these, but since you don’t know the context, I’m gonna anyhow.)

Too much busy, not enough play. Damn life.

I’ve only started about three different posts and have yet to finish one of them. I really need to because ya know, I need to bestow my wisdom and wit upon you all. That is why you keep coming back here, right? Right? Hmmm…. is this thing on?

Anyhoozooles, life is busy. How boring is that? It is the third week of school and we are still getting back into the routine. There are violas to buy, there is homework to do, there are braces to be gotten on, open houses to attend, teachers to meet and that stupid work thing that takes up SO MUCH TIME. How in the hell are we supposed to get everything done in life when we have 8 hours where we are trapped at work? Anyway, I have one entry where I declare I will be working for myself again making money from my art by this time next year, one entry where I tell you how much committee meetings drive me INSANE, one entry where I talk about being able to doodle in said meetings is the only thing that keeps me from going postal and one entry about the smell of vanilla perfume and how it brings me back to the beginning of art school days. Long before I decided to go off and make MY decisions that my mama told me not to and I was so, “Gooooood, mooooom, you have NO CLUE!!!” Turns out? She did have a clue. Oooops. So yeah, listen to your mamas. Hey! I’m talkin’ to YOU! So yeah, you can just imagine all the wit and wisdom I had to enlighten you all with which I overfloweth. But life got in the damn way.

And I have like one minute to finish this entry because I have to get edits to a magazine done, make a poster, a flyer and make a ballot box display to vote on a new college mascot to go on four different campuses all before I leave early to pick up The Soph to go get her bottom braces on.

But before I go I need to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY BEST BOYFRIEND EVER. You are now officially the same age as me, so HA! I love you and the fact that we are still together and this is the third birthday I have helped you celebrate is amazing, wonderful, happiness. And the other fact that you are ok with celebrating it by meeting me and the kids at an open house to meet Noah’s teachers THEN going out to dinner where YOU have to pay cause all my children’s new school year expenses have me TAPPED OUT, well, you rock socks baby. You are an amazing man and I am very grateful that we are together. Happy, happy birthday. I sure does love ya something crazy.

PS. If you came by yesterday or tried to email, I totally let my domain expire and did not figure it out until almost midnight last night. Ooops. So if yu emailed, email me again, I might not have gotten it.

Hear no, See no, Speak no…

So….last week was a bit crazy what with the working, the last week of summer, getting ready for school and getting all the print work done for a big college event. Lotsa fun. I had a great week with the kiddos and they got one last sleepover in before the dreaded school year began. Actually, only one child dreaded it, the other was thrilled. Couldn’t find two more different kids living in the same house if you tried. Really.

So because I had so much free time, I of course got this idea for some sculptures of Dumb, Dumber and Dumbest. Er, I mean Sklyer, Lucy and Rufus. I should have taken the picture before the varnish was applied, or maybe outside in the sun with no flash, but I hardly ever have my act together THAT much, so here ya go. They of course make me laugh and I sent them to work with Best Boyfriend Ever to put on his desk, cause HA! they are funny and I am sure it will make for interesting desk conversation amongst his coworkers. I am putting a picture of the real life dogs underneath cause I am SURE you don’t remember what they look like. And look here how I captured the often not seen glowing laser eyes of death that they use when trying to get human food. “Step away from the sandwich lady and no one will get hurt…”

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree

Noah doodles comics on EVERYTHING. I think they are hysterical – even if he does use profanities from time to time. (he turns 12 on Friday, what are ya gonna do?) I have taught him to use symbols like $#!!*$ so that if he ever gets caught in school he won’t get in trouble for writing swear words. This is one of my favorite doodles of his and I copied exactly from one of his school notebooks and put in on canvas for his room to surprise him when he got back. I dunno, maybe we just share the same warped sense of humor, but I doodle it now in meetings myself!

(not really hung as crooked as it looks – it is the camera angle!)

putting your heart on the line

So guess what?? I sold Metro Bunny! A nice lady in the Netherlands (DUDE! The NETHERLANDS!) emailed me asking if it was for sale. She had also seen the postcard in Paris and by doing a google search found my entry. How freakin’ cool is that?!?! So apparently, the spot in my bathroom is a very magical spot now and helps me sell paintings. So um, my bathroom is now a gallery. No, not really, but if the next painting I put there sells as fast as this, well, I will be considering it. So I will be packaging and mailing my little bandaged bunny to it’s new home. And now I can buy the kids school supplies! Yay for lovely people that buy my art!

So next on the list of happy things is that we have a firm date for Hobby Lobby to review the products I helped create. It is in mid August and I am currently crossing all fingers and toes, arms and legs. And you can go ahead and cross yours too, I will take all the luck I can get.

Finally the project I was so happy to finally finish (in rough format) that I sent off to my agent is in her hands. I have not heard back from her yet and this weekend I am doing a sample illustration of a spread from the book to get to her. Let me tell you, being an artist is amazing, it is lovely, it is freeing and you get to get away with lots! (I am messy – Oh she is just a free spirit, you know those artist types. I am forgetful – Oh, you know those artists, their brains are always filled with creative ideas, they are bound to forget here and there. I can’t play an instrument – well, I just can’t but I wish I had a good excuse.) But the thing about being an artist, one that makes, or wants to make their living from their art is that you have to put your heart on the line. And that? That is NO FUN. You have to actually say, “Here world!! Here is my heart and soul on a piece of paper. Would you mind terribly judging it and telling me all the things that are wrong with it? Oh, and PLEASE be brutally honest, tell me it is just not good if you need to, because how else am I going to grow?” Yeah, THAT is not the fun part AT ALL.

But, if you want to be commercially viable, successful in certain areas, you have to do that. Now, I am NOT saying to change yourself for any industry, or create for someone else, but there is a fine line of compromise and of growth. I truly believe that people that “get” and love my art understand and feel the joy I experience when I paint and write. And I am sure if I tried to figure out what people wanted and tried to paint that, or write that, I would not feel authentic, it would not be coming from ME and well, it would not work. But at the same time, if someone in the field you want to be in, children’s books for instance, tells you that they love your work, but maybe you should consider this, or perhaps edit this writing with this in mind…Well, you are asking an expert. Someone that knows the business and knows what sells. The best part about my agent is that she gets me and my art, so if she has suggestions I take them because I know that she is not going to have me do something that would ultimately steer me away from what makes my art MY art and made her want to take a chance on me.

I am meandering a bit, and actually, I have only had some feedback on one thing so far from her, which I am going to rework this weekend, but I think what this post is about is my fear. All week long I have been stressing about my new book I sent her. What if she hates it? What if it isn’t good enough? What if she thinks it just would never fly? I have been preparing myself all week long for her response. And I already told Best Boyfriend Ever, that it might be hard for me to hear if it is bad news. But I will just need to wallow in it for a day or so, and then I will pick myself back up. Boyfriend hates it when I am sad and mopey, so I am trying to prepare him that I will HAVE to be sad and mopey, but just for a bit. It’s funny, my book is about facing your worst fear, not just any old fear, but your absolute WORST EVER FEAR and what happens. Well in my book, the worst DOES happen. Because dude, that is life. Every kid book I know says to face your worst fear and lookee there!? Nothing bad happened! You were all scared for nothing, you silly!! But that is so not true! In real life the worst does happen. But then what? That is what I wrote my book about. what happens when you are suddenly in your fear, living it and thinking, “Holy crap! I wish I had NEVER tried this, this totally sucks!!” Ok, so I don’t say crap and suck, cause even I know that would not probably fly in a kids’ book, but the sentiment is there on the pages.

So anyway, I am waiting right now for my worst fear to happen. To hear that the book is not good enough and the thing I have put off for three years is not ready, not viable, not GREAT and WONDERFUL like I want to hear. And what will happen after that? Well, I guess I will be mopey and sad for a bit. Then life will still go on.

A scene from my book: