New year’s resolutions

I am blinkin’ well determined to get my Arts Council grant application in this year, and ideally before the end of January. Look, I am an educated woman and I enjoy filling in forms. I know what I want to make and how to disseminate it – and still, the process is daunting.

Thankfully I have some excellent support around me – at least four people who have fought the (terrible, glitchy) online system and won, and it’s coming together. It is.

Other than that don’t have anything radical to resolve for 2023: rather, I’m refreshing my commitment to the aspirations I always hope to keep in mind.

Many years ago I resolved to do something toward my comics practice every day: if not drawing, that might be something as simple as reading or rereading a graphic novel, or joining in a comics discussion online.

For a long time I’ve been drawing before I start work at 09:00. When that slips, as it has been doing recently, it feels like a sign that my mental health is taking a bit of a battering. I’m trying to be kind to myself and pursue less demanding schedules, while still sticking to that ‘something every day’ edict.

Secondly, for pictures to come out of the fingers, pictures need to pour into the eyes. Does that sound like a proverb? I just made it up.

What I mean is, I’m making a conscious decision to submerge myself in art, taking every opportunity to visit inspiring exhibitions and watch lush films.

To that end I’ve resubscribed to all the London galleries, despite having a general intolerance to email newsletters.

I’ve already booked to see this exhibition at the Barbican – Alice Neel is an artist I know nothing about, but the images on that page and the accompanying blurb make it clear that it’s right up my street.

A painting by Alice Neel of two men, one with his arm around the other. He is in an unbuttoned shirt, The other guy has a beard and glasses and is smirking slightly. There is a fruit bowl on the table.
Geoffrey Hendricks and Brian, 1978, Alice Neel (c)

In November, the Tate is going to be staging Women in Revolt, on Art, Activism and the Women’s movement in the UK 1970–1990, so that’s firmly on my calendar too.

This immersive digital piece from David Hockney looks interesting, and I enjoy that he pushes the boundaries of media even at an advanced age – but it is expensive, so I’ll think about it.

The other recommitment is to try to say ‘yes’ to opportunities. Talks, conferences and festivals don’t always translate into sales, or even into many more people having heard of my work, but they do always result in new connections, new friends, and sometimes surprising new avenues.

First of these is the brand new comics convention down in Newton Abbot, near my home town and very much home turf for Satin and Tat. To be honest, this was an easy one to say yes to, as it’s near my parents and I need to be down there quite a bit at the moment.

The Lakes festival sent out their invitations to exhibit this week, and I’m currently thinking over whether I want to table or to attend as a visitor.

And I’ve submitted a session to this conference.

My publisher, Liz at Street Noise Books might be surprised to see this commitment to saying ‘yes’, given that we had a Zoom call last night when I was a) keen to promote Draw the Line further but b) trying to be highly realistic about how many hours I can spare beyond the day job.

Not to mention that actual drawing I want to do. It’s been a couple of weeks now since I actually drew anything; instead it’s been all about planning and emailing around the ACE grant.

Of course I’m going to chip away at Draw the Line marketing, but I’ll say one thing – years of trying to do something significant in comics while working full time has taught me that it’s nigh on impossible to do both properly – something I always bear in mind when the debate about MPs taking second jobs comes up.

Let’s not end on a negative note though! I am certainly going to explore the ideas we discussed and eventually say yes, yes and yes to the ones that seem right.

Published by Myfanwy Tristram

I am an illustrator, situated in Brighton on the south coast of England, and with a special interest in comics and graphic memoir. I also work for a non-profit which encourages people to be active in democracy and to exercise rights such as the right to information through FOIA.

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