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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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People are important to me.

Thank you for being here.

 

Remember and Look Forward

Holidays

The New Year is almost here!

For most of my life I never set any “New Year’s Resolutions.” I thought it was dumb to do so. I knew I wouldn’t follow them. Like everyone else, I imagine I’d forget them. I also didn’t have anything I was aiming for. But now I do have some big goals I want to aim for. And I think setting yearly goals can be encouraging for me as an artist to see my progress. In view of that I decided to set a couple of resolutions for 2018.

But before I go on to those, I think it’s also nice to look back and see what I’ve accomplished this year. I think it’s healthy to “count your blessings,” see how much you’ve done. Good self-care practice. And that way, next year I’ll have a point of comparison!

2017 Accomplishments

Art

 

Social Media

  • Reached 500 followers on Instagram. With 9,000 likes on 172 posts!
  • Reached 300 followers on Facebook.
  • Reached 33 followers on Twitter? I mean, every follower counts right?

 

bestnine17

Blog

I think one of my biggest accomplishments has been this blog. This was the year I started it, and while it’s still small, and had some struggles with it, I’ve been able to post somewhat often and it has encouraged me in my writing, reading, and drawing. Here’s a couple of benchmarks for the blog:

Sometimes it’s hard for me to remember that this is just the beginning. But I’m thankful for moments like these, where I can take a breather, look back and remember what I’ve done and accomplished in one year.

But what’s to come?

2018 New Year’s Resolutions

I have a couple Major goals and a couple of Minor ones. The Major ones all relate to my art, while the Minor ones relate to health, relationships, travelling, church, etc.

Major Goals

  • I want to start my Youtube channel. I already have a couple of ideas bubbling – like a section called “Knitting my Thoughts Away,” and just like how I used the Summer to launch this blog I want to use this coming summer to launch my Youtube channel. I already have a profile set up if you’d like to follow so you don’t miss it when I start posting.
  • I also am planning on participating in two different ComicCons to test out the waters on selling my art at these types of events. I’ll be going to AniMinneapolis, and I’m hoping as well to get into the Grand Rapids ComicCon. With this goal I hope I’m able to make $5000 through commissions, prints and freelance work with my art.
  • I want to participate in ArtPrize in Grand Rapids. If you don’t know ArtPrize is this huge Art festival, where the whole city is filled with art and people walk around seeing lots of cool art. There’s some prizes and such, but honestly, I just want to do it for the fun and thrill of it!
  • To continue growing my Blog, and other social media audience. I want to reach more than 1000 followers on Instagram. You can always help out my referring my Instagram account to your friends!
  • Get a freelancing gig with an Illustration agency. I’m hoping to have this help me with bills during the summer! It’d be great to get some work experience in before I graduate.
  • Start work on a graphic novel (Writing).

Wow. I think that’s it! It’s a lot. Or at least it feels like it is. But it’s what we got for now. It will be awesome if in a year I look back and see that I accomplished all of them!

Onwards!

Minor Goals

  • To continue practicing yoga twice a week, and to start another form of physical activity
  • To make more friends and deepen the relationship with the ones I already have
  • To get a cat
  • To travel to one foreign country that I haven’t gone to yet
  • To get back to going weekly to church
  • To finish an Age of Empires story campaign
  • To read 20 books

Some of these are kind of silly and I don’t know how serious I’ll be in pursuing them, so I guess if they happen it will be more by accident than overtly conscious effort? Anyways. I think this is it!

It’s been a great year for me. With many struggles along the way, with much learning as well. I hope I don’t forget the lessons I’ve learned this year, and that next year will be an even better year!

Here’s to 2018!

And if you’d like to share below some of your New Year’s resolution I’d love to hear from you! It’s always good to write these down 🙂


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.

 

 

The Holy Virgin Probably had Body Issues

Holidays

by Heather Milks

 

Christmas - Christ the Savior is Born - Poem

Wrapped in flesh, clothed in skin stinking writhing

Child-king, Man-God

Breather of the universe

 

Supernatural meets natural

Lord God in heaven,

Grandfather of the Sky

 

Breath of life, maker of truth,

Utterly, disgustingly physical

Embodied divinity

 

And hope? Hope in what?

Hope in infancy, puberty, and a man to come?

 

Holy Second of the Trinity,

Totally physical, absolutely spiritual.

 

And I? I look and wish it weren’t true.

If God would just stay up in the sky, maybe I could avoid him.

If he didn’t understand earth-pains, I could run.

The babe that haunts me.

If God can say, “yes, I know” I am caught, and forced to weep.

 

Man-God born to some kid younger than I,

The holy virgin probably had body issues.

 

Itching at foreign flaked skin,

Let me leave, let me float away.

Transcend flesh, join you up in the sky.

 

But if he didn’t, then I can’t.

He put it on, and I want out?

He’s not up there, he’s here.

 

And I strangle the needs of my being,

Spirit-body, heart-beat of a soul,

 

I don’t even like babies.

Universal bandaid, one-size-fits-all.

Jesus the Nazarene,

Savior of the Universe

Solution of Man,

Sacred on Earth.

Christ the Savior is Born.

 

 


 

So I haven’t ever tried this. But I wanted to collaborate with someone for a Christmas post. Christmas is a very complicated Holiday for me, with all the gifts, consumerism, and masked smiles all put up against this beautiful, yet very simple moment of birth. Like, birth is such a human, down to the earth moment. Blood, tears, screams and pain. I don’t know, most of the time I just feel weird about Christmas – how am I supposed to engage it?

So I asked my friend Heather Milks to write something, something honest, sincere, questioning to which I could respond with an image of my own. Talking with her I feel that where she’s at in her own faith is a very similar place to my own, and I was really happy when she said “Yes!” So here’s the final result. I hope you like it as much as I did and that maybe it helps you to see afresh the birth of Christ.


 

You can check out Heather’s blog here. Where she talks about stuff, like her faith and religion and life. 

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.