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.