A funny thing happened at the beginning of Janaury.
My phone is set to ping every time someone likes one of my blog posts or follows my blog. This has not been, in general, exactly what you might call an intrusion: it normally happens in a cluster after I make a new post, or otherwise about once or twice a week.
But all of a sudden, one Tuesday night, the alerts started coming through every few seconds. “Spam”, I grumbled to my husband, as I turned off the light and went to sleep.
By morning, there were hundreds more – and there were comments, too. And, on closer inspection, those comments were not spam: they were well-written, friendly reactions to my posts.
It turns out that my post What happens when your New Year’s resolution is “Draw More”? was selected as one of WordPress’ “Freshly Pressed” picks, meaning that it’s gone into a stream that every WordPress user can access.
Which is amazing! I’ve been keeping this blog for just over a year now, and like any unmarketed corner of the internet, the audience was small and growing slowly. Now, WordPress tells me, I have 1,407 followers (and those pings are still coming, albeit at a more sedate pace). That one post has had 277 comments and 1,125 “likes”. Thank you to everyone who followed, commented or liked (and apologies that I haven’t replied to every comment).
This is me
It occurs to me that most of you don’t know anything about me, beyond that post, so here’s a brief introduction.
I’m an illustrator
What’s the difference between an illustrator and an artist?
The flippant answer is that illustrators are ‘allowed’ to draw black lines round things – something that I distinctly remember an art teacher telling me was no go in fine art.
A more accurate answer is perhaps that illustrations tend to accompany and complement text, whether that’s in a book or next to a magazine article. I grew up drawing comics, and I still identify strongly as a cartoonist. For me, cartoons and graphic novels are the acme of pictures and words going together.
I grab drawing time where I can
I’m not a full-time illustrator: I have a day job, and I’m also a parent (albeit with a very patient husband who shares a lot of the childcare and housekeeping).
In practice, that means that if I want to draw, I have to work very hard to find the time. At weekends, I sometimes get up at 6 or 7 to draw (but I have to be really excited by a project to do that). Otherwise, I have to prioritise drawing in the evenings. Often, the answer is to draw the things or people around me, like my daughter and her friends.
Right now, I have a really satisfying, varied day job, with some of the best workmates I could wish for. A few years ago, though, I was working in an office in a very corporate environment, which was not a great fit for me. I used to dream every day of being able to do more drawing, and kick myself for not having pursued illustration as an occupation.
Now that I’m in a happier position workwise, I’m far more conflicted. I don’t want to leave my job, I just want to have double the amount of days in the week! Or, more realistically, I’d like to be in a financial position to work three or four days every week, and draw for the rest of the time.
Maybe one day.
I have other hobbies too
I like to go running – I do that in my lunch hours. Yeah, my days are pretty closely timetabled. I have three cats. I’m mildly obsessed by my hometown’s resident rock star, Nick Cave.
All of these things sometimes come into my drawings. Here’s a picture of our recently-departed and much-missed cat Buffy, and here’s one of our solid old tuxedo cat Iggy.
And here’s a silly cartoon that brings the unlikely topics of running, and Nick Cave, together.
I live in Brighton
Brighton is a seaside city of about 160,000 on the south coast of England. I’ve lived here since 1990, having only ever planned to come and live with my best friend for a year while she finished her degree course.
Instead, I stayed here, having acquired a house, husband, daughter and the aforementioned cats.
I am very attached to my adopted hometown, and would like to draw a lot more of it, but see above as regards not having enough time in the day.
I am a bit of a clothes obsessive
I like buying clothes, but, fortunately, I also like charity shops, which keeps the habit affordable if not entirely containable.
Probably connected to this is the fact that I love drawing clothes. I like dressing the people in my cartoons, too.
And one November, I drew everything that I and my daughter wore, every day for a month. I’d like to make those drawings into a book one day.
I’m not ‘talented’
It was really lovely to read all the comments you left on my New Year’s Resolution post: people were so kind and complimentary.
Two comments kept coming up: first, that my post had inspired that person to get drawing themselves; and second, that I had great talent.
I cannot complain about either of the sentiments behind these thoughts, but I will quibble the latter point.
I am more than delighted to have inspired more drawing in the world. I get great pleasure out of mine, and I am sure that pleasure is a universal reaction to seeing something take shape where previously there was just a sheet of paper and a pen.
I am more reticent about the word ‘talent’. Like anyone who draws, I am sure, I am never quite satisfied with what I’ve drawn, and can always tell you six ways in which it could have been better.
I can also look back on a long period of drawing – since my childhood – during which I can see my own improvement. It doesn’t feel like talent, it feels like practice. I’m pretty sure anyone can attain a level of drawing they’d be happy to share with the world, if they just do a little bit of it every day for a few years.
That’s me, now how about you?
OK, now you know a whole lot more about me. What about you?
I’d love to follow some more art, comics or drawing blogs on here, but 1,407 followers is a lot to go through and check all at once.
If you keep an art blog, please do let me know in the comments below, and I’ll check it out.
29 thoughts on “Hello, people: all about me”
Sadly, I don’t run an art blog but I would so, so, so love it if you would follow back!
Ha. Who am I kidding T_T
I can really relate to your comment about talent. I always tell my Art students that “Practise makes perfect” when they compliment my demos!
Love your work. I’m an artist who has transitioned into making comics. Just click my name to come over. This article was a good way of getting to know you. Thanks for the hospitality 😁
I totally agree with your comments about talent, I feel the same way. I have just recently picked up my art again roughly about 8 months ago. I love to draw and paint and have recently started drawing on my tablet. I am more of a painter but when I have painters block I will draw, I started to keep a sketch journal. Just started my blog on WordPress but I also have one on blogger too. I look forward to seeing more of your posts.
Hi Myfanwy – it’s tricky that idea of ‘talent’ isn’t it? My husband drew/painted professionally, I don’t. I remember when our children were little, they’d ask me to draw a dog. I’d draw a dog, a doglike thing, recognisable to a child as essence of dog, in the way of Spot the Dog. Then they’d ask my husband to draw a dog (not in immediate horror at my attempt – some other time. We weren’t being pitted against each other in some kind of bizarre child-run ‘most artistic parent’ contest!). My husband’s dog would look as if it could have walked off the page. It looked like a specific dog, not any old dog. It looked as if he’d had a dog in mind – though he always said he hadn’t.
He’d always say, as you do, that anyone could draw, given the time to practise and a bit of initial direction. He was just as uncomfortable as you are with the idea of a ‘special talent.’
I think that anyone could draw to a decent standard, but I also think some people have an extra spark – maybe it’s a tiny, tiny spark, but other humans recognise it. I think there are plenty of very talented professional footballers, who train hard every day and have been doing for years and years. But there’s still an extra spark to Messi’s interaction with the ball, on a good day.
Nick Cave frequents a local cafe (I live in Brighton too). Apparently, when he comes in, everyone tries to pretend that they haven’t noticed him, but conversation stops for that moment of recognition, and it moves round the cafe like a Mexican wave. I wonder how it feels to him negotiating the puddles of silence that greet him as he steps up to the counter. I wonder whether it feels any different to the kind of hush that would greet a man that the neighbours knew was beating his wife or a man recognised as a mass murderer from Crimewatch. I wonder whether the recognition has a different flavour when you’re famous, rather than infamous. (Sorry, I didn’t mean to digress)
Thank you for your considered comment and hi, Brightonian *waves*! There’s a great quote from Nick Cave, which I can’t precisely remember, but which goes along the lines of how he can’t ever just pop to the shop for a paper, he’s always “Nick Cave popping to the shop”; he can’t just go for a pint at his local, he’s Nick Cave going for a pint… you get the idea. I’m just as bad as everyone else, I go very self-conscious when I see him around town, but I’m sure that’s almost all to do with the immense persona he has created for himself, which obviously must then transform the rest of us into mere mortals!
It must feel odd to him. But he has settled in one of the towns in the UK where he will be recognised, but where lots of the residents consider themselves too cool to let on that they’ve recognised him. That’s an odd cocktail in itself.
I think he attracts glances because he looks like a Victorian chimney sweep – minus the top hat. In Victorian times, I guess he would have attracted less attention, but more offers of hands-on work.
I remember, back in the 80s, when he used to come to San Francisco on tour, way before he was famous, he turned heads. The black, black hair and the black black clothes draped on that rangy frame, draw the eye. It’s part undertaker, part rock star. He’s one of the few to pull it off.
Hello, I’m new to blogging (my art blog: jenpangelinanfineart.com), and am currently learning everything I can about drawing and painting to seriously pursue a career as an artist. Once, I was briefly enrolled in an Illustrator course, which I loved, but needed to switch to something less time consuming as I had small children and a full time job. Now, my kids are older and I have more time…and every painting class I’ve taken has shown me that I need to spend way more time drawing! I love your illustrations, they are clever and eye-catching, and I hope to hone my skills so I can record my surroundings in such an interesting way. Thank you for sharing about your life and your honest feelings about your abilities…I feel very much the same way and suspect many artists do…but we keep on going anyway! Looking forward to more of your blogs.
Just one comment ,YOU ARE TALENTED, never forget that, ok?
Love it, I do 2 art blogs pARTnership and BeccaLynnWeeks, and would love to have you follow me as well. I post less frequently, also due to my day job as an alternative school art teacher. My pARTner in life and love is KenHowardImages. Thanks for sharing your illustrations, I love a black line myself! I have to try hard to not suggest a black line around everything my students create! :)
Love it, I do 2 art blogs Living pARTnership and BeccaLynnWeeks, and would love to have you follow me as well. I post less frequently, also due to my day job as an alternative school art teacher. My pARTner in life and love is KenHowardImages. Thanks for sharing your illustrations, I love a black line myself! I have to try hard to not suggest a black line around everything my students create! :)
Myfanwy, I am delighted to have come across you through WordPress! I loved your energy, humour, interests and drawing skills the first time I saw your post on Freshly pressed and immediately followed you. This post had made me delighted to have done so (what good taste I have) as you come across as exactly the kind of person I like to be friends with.
Looking forward to more glimpses of your life- isn’t this blogging thing marvellous? I’m recently started as a way of sharing my visual journal work (Aaarrrgghh, I just used the word ‘practise’ instead of ‘work’ there… that was a close shave- only just caught myself on in time). I have always made a living as an artist, but several years ago got kidnapped by a prep school in Wales after doing a summer workshop and have been slogging as an art teacher ever since… Now in a bit of a career quandry…
Step over to my blog when you get a chance and see if anything amuses or delights you in my drawings. Cheers! Alison
Thanks for saying such lovely things, Alison :) I love your work! Seriously wonderful stuff … and I have only just found the time to sit down and say so.
Making a living from your art has to be counted as a real success – and teaching art falls into the same bracket, I reckon.
I love your art. I reposted that post you mentioned and people I know liked it too. :) But as you know, these things are subjective but you should do what you are doing right now and enjoy the process (while we enjoy the product of your labor. ehem)
Great blog and illustrations!! I am a new follower and I recently started my art blog called “The Drawing page”. http://www.adrianaburgosdrawing.wordpress.com
So true about the talent vs practise comment…manages to tick me off really bad everytime i am called talented by people who have no idea of the daily struggles of my life to make time and effort to practise!
I draw and post on my blog everyday.
There is no boundary between different types of creation…you call it illustration, but it’s still art. So you are an artist.
Nina and I started our blog to keep us doing art in our also-busy other lives and it seems to be working. Way behind in followers, but connected in spirit to what you are doing.
I have a comic-blog at themiddlestsister.com and an illustrator-blog at nicolesmeltzer.com. One day, I really should just combine them, but that day is not today. I mostly work in cut-paper, but your sketchbook drawings and watercolors have reminded me that I really ought to sketchbook more often :)
Ooh I love your work! That looks super time-consuming.
I can’t figure out how to follow your blog from my mobile, but I will do so as soon as I’m on a proper computer.
Thanks! I know how that is; I’m only in front of a computer 2 days a week and it’s so hard to do some things on WP on a mobile!
Finally managed to do it from my desktop :)
It’s funny how WP are so far ahead with the whole blogging platform thing, and then something like that pops up and seems entirely non-intuitive. Anyway, done now and I look forward to seeing your posts in my feed.
Hello. ..I’m one of your new freshly pressed followers. I live what I’ve seen so far. I’m a Canadian who loves music. I DJ in a small town bar and my blog is about anything and everything I can think of as I love to write as well. Can’t wait to read more from you and see more illustrations.
Love what I’ve seen not live. Darn phone
Hi, I love your blog and found it, not by Freshly Pressed but by the little sidebar thing that says “Blogs you may be interested in/Blogs you may like” :) I have an art blog over at http://www.art-reviewed.com :) I live in South Wales, am 33 and have a photography degree which I just got! I work in pensions and finance but love everything art related! (And nail related too, I am also a trained and qualified nail tech and have a blog for that too but haven’t updated it in a while…) anyway, really nice to read your blog! Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!!! :) Suzi x
Thanks Suzi! Congratulations on your degree – that’s great. I love photography, but, despite having taken a couple of classes, I just *cannot* get my head round the camera settings. Thank goodness for Instagram :)
Thank u!!! :) camera settings are hard to get you read round but keep practicing! The best photo outcomes I have had have been purely accidental but turned out so well!! Love Instagram and my iPhone camera tho! I did my final uni project using my iPhone and Instagram was a major player in it too!!! U can find me on Instagram @siouxsietench :) be interested to see ur pics on there!!! Xxx
Freshly pressed has introduced me to cool people since 2014 when I started blogging. I was delighted & inspired by your colors & style! I’m mostly self taught (uh self teaching? Since a great art class 5 years ago) & get up early to experiment/practice before work. Thus, 7:00 am over here in Portland OR, USA. Looking forward to your posts:)
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