Somethings She Taught Me

Holidays

(I wrote this a year ago, and edited it this year for this event. I still think it holds up somewhat.)

I was surprised to hear a couple people referring to me as an entrepreneur. Or having entrepreneur skills, or entrepreneur spirit, or just something. I was pretty-dumbfounded by hearing it, because honestly, I never saw myself as one. I always thought I just had my head in the clouds and no real tactics to survive in the real world. I’ve always been a dreamer, and realizing that certain small day to day tasks need to be accomplished, so that I can reach those dreams, has never been my forte.

But after some thought I realized why they saw this in me.

Whatever amount of entrepreneurism I have is not coming from my own self. I believe though, that it came from my mom. And I don’t mean it came in the genetic sense, because genetically, or by nature, I feel I have none of it. But I mean came as in she taught me that.

I clearly remember, ok maybe not so clearly, but I remember this.

I was drawing on the dining room table, or maybe I was reading, or doing whatever dumb stuff I did on my computer back then. The light was warm flooding in from the open windows of our house. And it felt like my house. Whenever I think of my house, it’s that time of day that I think of it.

Now that I think of it, I was probably looking at some incredible artist’s video on YouTube. And what happened pretty often is that I either felt really great about becoming an artist, or I felt miserable. Like suddenly seeing how capable they were, and how incapable I was, revealed to me how impossible it would be the road ahead. How much I lacked in talent, and skill and knowledge. How I had no idea how to get a job or make money off of this. How probably I WOULD be sleeping under the bridge after I graduated. And that’s what was all going through my mind at the time. And my mom passed by, and somewhat jokingly I must’ve asked her how was I ever going to do it. I’m pretty sure it was a semi-joke, because I somehow also still thought I could be the one to brave the dark water of creative artistry. I mean part of my whole narrative behind choosing art is just the sense of glory, adventure and unknown that it carries with it. But anyways, after I joked, she sat down, right next to me, pen and paper in hand.

“Ok, Andrew. What do you want in life?”

“To be an artist, question mark?”

“See. That’s already the wrong mindset. You can’t relay yourself to just a ‘stand-in’ name. When you choose a career you’re not choosing an identity. You’re choosing a path to travel. One from which you can always move out, and jump on the other one. What you have to understand is what you want to do. Now here, you have a variety of talents. What other careers have you considered?”

“I’ve thought of writer, artist, psychologist, pastor and missionary.”

“Now what you have to understand with all of those is that their not essential. They all vary in the way they happen. There are a thousand ways of being a write, or an artist, a psychologist, pastor or missionary. And in the end of the day it doesn’t matter which one you choose, at the end of the day with all of these what do you want to do? What’s your goal?”

“I don’t know, moooom,” inset teenager eyeroll here “Why are you complicating this so much? I just want to know what to do with my life.”

“But, Andrew, what do you want to do? Because if you think about it, writing and being an artist, even a pastor is all about communication. Transmitting ideas, thoughts, feelings.”

I acted unsurprised. But when I think back to this point, I was very blown-up. I believe I did the common teenager move of kind of completely disregarding what she was saying, but not actually. It stayed with me. No matter what I did, that was indeed what I wanted: to communicate, to bring together, images, words, ideas, feelings, and people. To show things under a new light. And up until here everything was pretty unpractical advice she was giving. My mom tends to do that. She likes to go deeper, and dig for a root causes, root problems. I had never up until that point realized how fluid a career can be, and how one isn’t necessarily relegated to one position, one name or career choice. Giving me that, was giving me freedom, one that I felt I never received at school. And it was necessary then, to close in on the specifics if I did want to go towards the path of a visual communicator.

“I do. That’s I want. I want to be a visual communicator of sorts, open to different paths.”

Once I admitted that, she felt safe then to nail down a plan.

“OK. Now is then when we can go ahead and think of how to get you there. So, who are the people that you follow? Who exemplifies what you want to do?”

I listed them off.

“Okay. How do you get there?”

I recounted several ways that all left it up to chance and luck to get there.

“No, no, no. You’re thinking of the impossible. That’s too far. What are small steps you can do to get there? What are things they would be doing at your age to be getting there?”

I told her of all the artists’ I saw that did commissions, an did events, and created ways to make money.

“So what do you need to get there?”

And we talked about all this. It was all about breaking down my BIG dream, into manageable parts. Small things I could. It was about revealing that the dream wasn’t that big after all, it was just something that had to be built up to.

But I think what was left with me from that conversation, besides all the practical stuff I needed to get on to and learn, and start the journey on, was one remark she said. Or maybe she didn’t say, but it became prominent in my heart. One of the biggest problems I have to work on.

Because, I’m still here. I’m still trying to hone my craft. I’m still trying to figure out ways to grow my audience, and how I can reach them. I’m trying to figure out how to make money and survive once I graduate. But what has shown to be one of the biggest struggles is just trying to figure out what I have to say. What I, a regular human person, have to share with the world that matters?

And as much as I can become a great art-business person, and find the necessary means to make a living from art. Does it really matter if what I’m creating isn’t adding something meaningful to the world? We see so much these days through all our different social media channels. There’s already so much creative work being done in the world. What can I make, that’ll be good and meaningful?

A visual communicator, without a message, isn’t a communicator at all.

Our Skin is Our Freedom

Illustration

dealing with procrastinationThe shower tells me to slow down. It’s the end of the night. It’s time to calm my soul, dress it for sleeping. But I can feel my body still longs in desire for anything that tells me, “you’ve done enough today.” Earlier today I didn’t finish editing that image. The animation is still in the same state it was last week, as are those two emails that are sitting in the drafts folder. I didn’t start on any of the three illustrations I have due soon. I took a nap midday, before I even had lunch. And forgot about half the other things that are on my list of to-dos and to-dreams.

anxiety and self-care
My hands are scratching at the walls that contain me, my skin. It’s so limited to its own time and space. Joined with the warm droplets that are supposed to soothe, but only excite irritation.

My hands don’t stop. I circle in the shower, feeling everything, everything tearing apart, doom imminent, knocking at the door.

skinfreedom2

My eyes dart around thinking about everything that I didn’t do that day. In every corner of the stall, associating with each crevice my eyes can find, a different disappointment for the day. All the dreams I wanted to start on, the assignments, tasks, and small self-imposed habits that today were proven that they are indeed not anywhere close to habits.

My hands don’t stop, my eyes don’t stop and my breathing joins in. Anxious, it is breathinbreathingbreathing. Beating to the rhythm of hopes, dreams, pressures, expectations, and fears. Shame and guilt arise in a chest that already feels like it’s drowning. And drowning is not where you wanna be at right before sleeping. And you want to sleep because tomorrow will be an early start. And you can’t stop it. Stop your hands, your eyes, your breathing.

skinfreedom3

You stop. For a second your breath stops, holding itself saying: “I’m done. I’m exhausted, tired, done.” And then it lets the breath seep out, with it your whole body slips into that air. You leave with exasperation in the flow of air through your lips, and you come back in with relief.

skinfreedom4

You didn’t accomplish everything you wanted today. But you breathed, and you walked and lived. It’s all in that breath, that gives up, it lets go, and everything opens up.

skinfreedom5

Your eyes relax, and the eyebrows that were before lifted, finally rest on the knowledge of safety. Your hands stops scratching and decides instead to lay by the side of your thighs. Your breathing is breath, and it is stroke, and it is freedom, and acceptance.

your skin is your freedom - mindfulness
It is there. You’re there. Your skin is your freedom, and your body your temple.

I wanted to do them all

Sketchbook, Uncategorized
image of a cage
It’s hard to be realistic on our goals. I mean. At least for people like me? People that dream, and see so much opportunity everywhere, so much that can be. Everything is another road, another path that could be traveled. Trying to be realistic is like asking us to cage the bird, to kill the fire, to drain the energy, imprison the free spirit.
So why do you ask me that? Why do you ask me to be realistic?

New Year’s Resolutions (2019)

Holidays, Illustration, To Keep On Dreaming

new years final

So I did one post that was more on the sad side of things. Reflecting on some of the harder parts of my life. But I also wanted a blog post that was slightly more hopeful?

Last year I also had a list of resolutions. I didn’t reach many of them, but I was still happy that I had the list to which I could compare myself. It was a good way to assess where I am, where I was. I feel like there was growth and change. So this year I decided to do another list of goals. I’m trying to keep this one shorter. It’ll be 10 things for me to focus on this year, and try and get nailed down. Are these realistic? Probably not. Am I writing them down? Yes.

Art Career

  1. Start streaming on Twitch, and have 50 followers there by the end of the year
  2. Have three videos posted on YouTube
  3. Find an illustration agent
  4. Finish 10 personal commissions
  5. Grow my Instagram following to 1,640, double of what I currently have
  6. Write more, post on my blog twice a month?

Personal Life

  1. Go to a psychologist to figure myself out
  2. Go to church at least twice a month
  3. Exercise 3 times a week
  4. Eat a portion of salad once a day

 

A Year is Past…

Holidays, Illustration, To Keep On Dreaming

Knotted series_0019_Layer 7

It was a year.

So often I had no clue what was happening or going on.

I barely remember most of it, though I could remember more if I tried.

It felt like a year of fog and unknowing more than anything else.

Knotted series_0023_Layer 3

I miss many pieces of myself. Parts of me that were left behind. In the hurry I forgot them above the sink, under my bed. Two bags of fifty pounds can only carry so much. Damn my poor planning skills.

Knotted series_0015_Layer 11

I learned that I really don’t know what I want from life.

It’s funny, because as soon as I chose “art” as my career, it felt like maybe I knew what my future held. How it would play out:

I struggle through college, gaining a degree I don’t necessarily need, yet it’s still great. I find someone, date, marry. We go out into the world knowing we’ll be poor, yet still determined to conquer it. To make the best out of our situation, and make art.

Knotted series_0018_Layer 8

But today, life is a fog. I will graduate at the end of the year, 2019. I’ll finish my degree, but I don’t know what I want to do with art.

What art do I want to make? What is my voice? Why would people want to hear what I have to say? What do I want to say? What are things that matter to me?

Knotted series_0011_Layer 15

I also know nothing of relationships. Flung by my emotions between so many different dreams for my future.

Dream 1. I will find a man, it will be love at first sight. Our lives will mesh into each other’s, and somehow the beauty of our relationship will move my parents to accept that relationship.

Dream 2. I will find a woman, it will be love at first sight. Our lives will mesh into each other’s, and the difficulties I face from my sexuality won’t impede me from loving her authentically and truthfully.

Dream3. I will remain single, but I will create an adopted family. An intentional community, where everyone feels welcomed, included, as their full selves.

Knotted series_0013_Layer 13

These dreams aren’t dreams actually. They represent my fears. They all breathe my fear of loneliness. The fear that I will be only with myself. An individual, singular I, lost in a world of couples, families, communities, who have found each other. Who have found places they belong, who create a space for themselves to be with each other.

Knotted series_0007_Layer 20

While most of what I feel is lost, disoriented and unsure, I still hold onto hope. Hope of better. Hope of growth and change. Hope that life is more. It has always been more, than the doings and undoing of my brain. The world exists outside of me, and everything is beautiful. So here’s to another year of uncertainty. Let uncertainty be filled with beauty.

Knotted series_0002_Layer 25

People are important to me.

Thank you for being here.

 

Orange Unicorn 16 – Nature 3

Orange Unicorn
Orange-Unicorn_016

As much as nature humbles me, breaking me down, admitting how small, how tiny and how quick I am to die… it also strengthens and reminds me that we are all beautiful.


Previous episode – Next episode (to come)
Your support means a lot to me: it helps me keep going. So if you’d like to stay updated with the webcomic make sure to follow the blog – button is off to the side!
You can also follow my Facebook Art page, Instagram (@jandrewgilbert), and Twitter (@jandrewgil), for updates.

Orange Unicorn 14 – Nature 2

Orange Unicorn

Orange-Unicorn_015

It’s good to remember, that we’re just starting. I think this is true even for those of us who feel “old.” This world has lasted a lot longer than we have, and maybe that can help us see the world with a more open hand, open heart.


Previous episode – Next episode (to come)
Your support means a lot to me: it helps me keep going. So if you’d like to stay updated with the webcomic make sure to follow the blog – button is off to the side!
You can also follow my Facebook Art page, Instagram (@jandrewgilbert), and Twitter (@jandrewgil), for updates.

Orange Unicorn 14 – Nature

Orange Unicorn

Orange-Unicorn_014

Haven’t updated in awhile, but here it is. There’ll be a couple more with nature. After that I’ll be taking a break (I know, it’s like I was already taking a break….) from Orange Unicorn to reevaluate the style, the colors I use and how I want to keep moving forward with this project. As far as I can tell it’s been moving towards something a lot more self-care and mindfulness focused.

Thank you for being with me on this journey so far. It’s not always easy for me, but I’ve been updating this blog somewhat regularly for a year! And I hope you stick around on what is to come!


Previous episode – Next episode (to come)
Your support means a lot to me: it helps me keep going. So if you’d like to stay updated with the webcomic make sure to follow the blog – button is off to the side!
You can also follow my Facebook Art page, Instagram (@jandrewgilbert), and Twitter (@jandrewgil), for updates.

Makeup

Sem categoria

Here’s the thing. I’m a man, and I’m okay with that. There’s nothing I felt was special or exciting about that. But I was okay with that. I’m a man, I was a boy, I’ve always been male.

But the struggle I’ve had with gender identity is that of limitation. Being said you can’t wear high heels, you can’t play with dolls, you can’t read romances, and you can’t cry or wear makeup (unless you’re in theatre.) And for some people that’s fine. They don’t want to wear makeup. But I do. At least every now and then.

The funny thing is, that there’s still a part of me that can’t make a moral argument for the blending of gender-assigned symbols. Ok. Like I think it’s right, but I have no reasoning or argument behind it, it just feels like it should be right. I can see friends of mine questioning that aspect of this project. And I’m not sure how I would respond. I think in part I would like to say, “Just look at the pictures. How can that be wrong? They are beautiful.” And I guess that’s part of my internal debate. Is beauty an argument? A valid argument?

I do hope it is.

But without further ado.

JAndrewGilbertChizuknok and JakeNoahVerBeekChizuknok LongkumertrioJakeSchottSebastianJalaNoah and Andrew

 

I’d like to clarify that the models had very little knowledge of what words I’d write here about these pictures. They might agree, disagree, ignore, pretend to think one way or another, I don’t know. So, everything here is my opinion and mine only. Though you’re welcome to share of it.
Photography: Mimi Mutesa
Make-up artist: Nelson Bates
Models:
Noah Ver Beek
J. Andrew Gilbert
Sebastian Jala
Chizuk Longkumer
Jake Schott

Your support means a lot to me: it helps me keep going. So if you’d like to stay updated with the webcomic make sure to follow the blog – button is off to the side!
You can also follow my Facebook Art page, Instagram (@jandrewgilbert), and Twitter (@jandrewgil), for updates.

An Open Letter to the Church, from a Queer Guy

Sem categoria

 

Dear Church,

Two disclaimers to start off. First, We don’t have to agree, we could both be wrong. Second, I’ll use the term “gay” or “gays” to refer to the LGBTQ+ community in a broader sense.

I had a lot to say. But there’s already so many people’s voices, and so much already being discussed and said. Just do a google search and you’ll find different voices, different opinions on all sides. So I’ll keep this brief.

The two cents I wanted to add is this: Some of us from the LGBTQ+ community already go to church. We’re already here, sitting in the pews, listening, listening, listening.

What was hard for me, about my relationship with you, wasn’t necessarily everything that was said – a lot of what you taught me was good and enriching and beautiful. But I think that every time we talked about gays, we talked as if they were outside the church, rather than right there, like I was.

Most of the time it the conversation emphasized the us and them, this complete separation of gays and Christians. It was as if church members and LGBTQ+ community members were like water and oil, never mixing. Even when I’m here saying this, it feels like I for a brief moment have to exclude myself from you and only be in the gay community.  Almost, as if I can’t be in both. Which is not true. I’m a part of both communities.

But there I was listening. The hurtful things were said because you didn’t see I was there, listening; you thought I was outside of your community. And I understand, it’s not the easiest to take off the lenses that you received from those before you.

But, please, remember.

We’re here, with you. We sit next to you, helping out with kid’s ministry, assisting in worship and service, every Sunday.

Please, remember.

We are your daughters, brothers, best friends, and cousins.

We’re right here, and we’re listening. So please, listen to your friend and their struggles when they come out. Listen.

One last remark is that I do not in any way represent the entire gay community. We’re all so different, with different stories and experiences within and outside of your community. Some of us have been ostracized, some of us have left you by choice, some of us struggle to remain friends, and I’m sure there must be some of us who are doing just fine with the way things are.

My experience with you, I have found to be one of the best ones out there, and it saddens me when I find out about many others who have had it harder than me, being rejected and from their communities and families.

Thank you so much for your time, your patience in listening to my complaint. I’ll strive to work for a better relationship between me and you. I know we’re still figuring this all out, and it’s hard and complicated. But thank you for trying, for caring. We’re all human, and we all make mistakes.

Sincerely,

Andrew Gilbert


I have wanted to write something like this for the longest time. I only found the courage to finally post this after a recent Sunday when the Calvin College pastor, Pastor Mary, talked about the subject in a very loving and caring way. The sermon was recorded and can be watched here.
Also please note that the way she talks about it, while still holds onto a “us” and “them,” paradigm she acknowledges this and confesses the difficulties of bridging this divide.
If you want to engage the whole debate of whether homosexual activity, two persons of same sex getting in a relationship, is correct or not, I ask that you do that in private, rather than out and loud here. I just want to keep it more civil. Also, some literature that I’d recommend before you fly at all the arguments out there, would be:
Torn, by Justin Lee
What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality?, by Kevin DeYoung
Bible, Gender and Sexuality, by James V. Brownson
Washed and Waiting, by Wesley Hill
I’m sure there’s other ones I’m skipping, but this can be a good starting place.
I also recommend listening to this episode of the Liturgists Podcast that definitely made me cry when I listened to it.
Lastly, if you can’t afford the books, either money or time-wise, a good place to find some reading material could be here. Though some of the reading material might make you uncomfortable. Look under “blogs,” for free accessible material.