Ending My "Artists Make Art" Series...

Ending My "Artists Make Art" Series...

Publishing the "Artists Make Art" series taught me a lot about myself and my work, my stressors and my joy, my difficulties and my accomplishments. I learned a lot about myself; truly. I will always appreciate that I did the series, but it is time for change and for new things!

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Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - September 2017

Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - September 2017

I went through hurricane Irma in September. Though things could have been so much worse for me (I had no flooding, structural damage or physical injury) as it is for survivors in Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Dominica and more, Irma still took a toll on my mental health, which I am trying to recover from. Irma meant unexpected expenses and loss of electricity for a while, which meant lost wages and increased home costs, in addition to discomfort and stress. It also meant dealing with an inordinate amount of stress via social media as I had to use it more than in August, where less use meant a better month.

While I accomplished some of the things that I wanted to in September despite so much stress, September was still a setback in some serious ways. I hope to get some rest and recuperation in October and finish the year in a better emotional and creative place. 

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Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - August 2017

Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - August 2017

I had a very good month in August. It feels as if it has been a while since I have felt this way, but I really did have a good month. I did the work that I wanted to do and also rested fairly well. My birthday was really great. I received a few nice gifts and tons of birthday wishes. Overall, other than January (when I had a lovely sleepcation), August was my best month in 2017, in every way. I hope that the rest of the year can follow suit and somewhat make up for a difficult late spring and early summer.

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Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - July 2017

Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - July 2017

July ended on a brighter note, as I launched my new Patreon profile. I am not an "optimistic" person but I do hope that altering my social media use in certain ways will provide a modest reprieve. I am looking forward to working on something new and the rest of my year being as productive as July, but also a lot more restful.

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Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - June 2017

Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - June 2017

Regardless of what I do, working as an indie artist will always be difficult, regardless of if I love the actual arts (I do) that make up my profession. The part of art that transforms from passion to profession will always be painful because of the nature of capitalism itself and how people respond to an unaffiliated hypervisible Black woman doing that work in social media space, using social media as a tool to make that work profitable to create an income to survive on.

One thing that was nice about June is that my sister closest to me in age came to visit me and it was such a kind, thoughtful, fun and healing visit. June would have been much more difficult than it already was without that wonderful time spent with family.

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Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - May 2017

Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - May 2017

While I do not believe in "dream jobs," I have waited all of my adult life to be able to do work that I enjoy, work that is challenging, work that is creative. I do now. But loving my work (being an artist) and loathing the context it has to occur in (extremely abusive and exploitative social media spaces that are infinitely worse than any corporate job office) is a resistant impasse.  Each month I try to figure out another way and hopefully after more conversations with artists who understand this, as there will be so few who do, I will come up with a plan that works. I have to. My well-being and survival depend on it. 

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Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - April 2017

Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - April 2017

This year, I altered how I pursue deadlines, no longer engaging a rigidity that does not account for the fact that I have four blogs, I am working on 3 different sets of publication projects (that include multiple eBooks and other photographic/writing products in each) and have multiple social media accounts for four different projects, on top of any extraneous publishing that I do. It is a lot and it is one person doing it all. However, being "on target," so to speak, did not prevent me from reaching burnout. I am...tired. However, it is not the workload that exhausts me but the conditions I deal with to work at all that does.

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Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - March 2017

Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - March 2017

I am doing much better with short-term rest, sleep, and leisure woven into my schedule. I can see the clear differences from 2016 and especially from 2012-2015. However, it will take more time and practice to be able to schedule and mentally relax during longer periods of time off. See, though I know I need time time off—especially because of how stressful social media is as a "workspace"—at the same time, economic anxiety (the real kind, not the euphemism for being a racist) is something that will never leave me. I work independently; if I do not do it, then it does not get done.

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Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - February 2017

Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - February 2017

A big misconception about time off or time to rest is that as long as you are not spending money, then it is "free" to have such free time. Well, as an indie creator, any time that I am not working (excluding things that create residual income), then I am not earning. There is no paid vacation time; there are no sick days. Thus, I have to be able to afford to take time off to take it in the first place, which means balancing reasonable deadlines with positive physical and mental health.

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Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - January 2017

Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - January 2017

In a capitalist society, the amount of work someone does is not what determines if they get to be well-off or even "middle class." I decided that a reasonable work schedule, plenty of rest, and valuing my time off is what I want for 2017 and beyond. I am trying to both enjoy the moments as they happen but also be organized enough for long-term projects, all while having a reasonable schedule with reasonable deadlines, all while maintaining reasonably good mental health and all while earning enough money to survive. This is difficult; this is life; this is being an artist. Artists make art.

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2016: 100 Favorite Essays, Reviews, Photographs, Recipes & More...

2016: 100 Favorite Essays, Reviews, Photographs, Recipes & More...

Art is my career. Art is my hobby. Art is my life. Art saves me. Though 2016 was a terrible year for me in so many ways, it was also a year where I created art that I love, art that I feel proud of and art that has sustained me.

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Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - December 2016

Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - December 2016

In my commitment to reasonable deadlines—for someone who does the work of 6-7 people on a shoe string budget for some projects and zero dollars for others (unless they generate sales/funding after the fact)—I decided it is okay to take my time to do my best work (and most importantly, take care of my health) without self-imposed deadlines that create anxiety.

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Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - November 2016

Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - November 2016

In November, I had several re-realizations about how little people think of independent artists, of Black women online, of hypervisible Black women online and people like me who are both independent artists and hypervisible Black women online. I dealt with so many paternalistic people second-guessing what I do, offering unsolicited advice or requesting free work. I do my best to not let it be stifling to me. It still affects my mental, emotional and physical health though. The ‘cumulative’ stress is real. 

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Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - October 2016

Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - October 2016

Recognizing my need to rest is as important to me as recognizing my desire to create. When I looked over my Artists Make Art series, one thing that I realized is that I am not making logical deadlines where the time allotted matches the time needed to complete something. I am working alone. There is no team. There is no assistant. Thus, I am interested in making more logical choices and decisions about the actual time it takes for me to complete projects and not feel guilty about that longer time span since again, I am doing a lot and doing it alone. I look forward to really re-evaluating my deadline setting and making sure it is in a productive way that always centers my time, my physical/mental health and my need for relaxation and rest as well. 

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Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - September 2016

Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - September 2016

Some people cannot stand to hear me say this but in some ways, using social media as an independent creator is worse than corporate. There are so many types of abuse that I experience now that I never did in corporate. It is difficult being an independent creator, especially as a Black woman, especially as someone who has to use social media as a "workspace" in order to earn and survive. This is a reality that I am not interested in hiding just so that I can be someone else's "career fantasy."

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Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - August 2016

Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - August 2016

Not every day is easy, but I try to be aware of my limitations, my physical, emotional and mental health, and just try to take each day one at a time. Easier said than done, but so far, I still try. But people still continue to hover around the work that I did with Gradient Lair and refuse to stop the plagiarism and erasure. They are desperate for "wealth" in a social media "economy" where performing "wokeness" is "currency," and they will acquire this "wealth" by any means; ethics be damned. Part of this is either erasing my work and my role in how people know certain concepts today; another part is simply lifting the work and pretending it is their own. They will even assert that this abusive behavior is being "woke" itself. Despite all of this, I was still able to get some of my projected work done in August, and so much so that I still have a good feeling about the rest of the year in terms of a few things that I want to publish.

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Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - July 2016

Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - July 2016

I decided that I do not have to rush to complete things that I previously set a deadline for. I want to pause sometimes and at least enjoy my work itself since I do not have the luxury of enjoying the context (primarily because of how a lot of social media is awful) in which I share this work, as an aspect of income/survival. Let me at least enjoy the process if I do not enjoy the post-publication circumstances, right? I have to be accountable for my work since there is no one to tell me what to do as an indie creator; I simply have to get it done. At the same time, I have to balance my own self-care and creative process over time.

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