I should have started this blog a long time ago.
I mean, I did. Multiple times. I’ve set up maybe six or seven blog sites over the years, fiddling around amateurishly with layouts and HTML and CSS, but I don’t think they ever progressed further than one or two posts each time. I just didn’t know what to say, or if it was even important enough for saying. A turning point came when I joined Instagram in 2015, and met a ton of lovely friends on there. What started as simply a fun place to share art and meet other artists, eventually became that blog-like outlet that I had been craving, especially after the Stories feature was added. For those who don’t know, Stories are a Snapchat clone. And let me tell you, they are like crack. Heck, all of Instagram, and pretty much the entirety of social media is too. Except it’s all legal, and ‘free’, and all your friends are doing it alongside you. And I think in some way, large or small, individually or as a society, it messes all of us up. But that’s for another post.
Another problem surfaced with Instagram, on top of that addiction: one of transience. I noticed I was spending hours each week writing text captions and curating photos for a medium that, for all practical purposes, disappears after 24 hours. Sure, if someone really wanted to, they could go to your feed and scroll down, that is if you didn’t make a cop-out Story post in the first place, but otherwise it was and is a bit of a mess. Old photos get buried beneath the sedimentary strata of new photos. AI and algorithms continue to grow increasingly difficult to ‘beat’. Hasty churning out of ideas and sketches becomes the preferred norm of the aspiring artist. There wasn’t much chance of direct linking and referencing between all the stupidly long posts I would write, either, and by the end of it all even I could no longer remember what I had or hadn’t said before. Never mind how many people missed seeing the original posts in the first place.
It took months, years even, to fully wean off of Instagram again. I had become a cog in a massive attention machine, handling it all worse than most, addicted to the app and its cycle of likes and feedback and obligation, adding to the stream of endless, mindless, gorgeous distraction for others. The app itself is very much designed to be addictive, and I understood this the entire time, to the point where every attempt at a new post started to feel like some sort of embarrassing existential struggle for my soul because my heart and mind were never in agreement as to what I should even be doing about it, but still, I couldn’t stop. Not until censorship crept further in, did I become completely fed up. And even then… I had made all those wonderful friends. I didn’t want to feel as though I was leaving them all in the dust. I still don’t.
But 2020 has finally kicked me in the gut so hard that I’ve had no choice but to make a change. I know I’m not the only person out there struggling with everything that’s been going on in this crazy world this year. Perhaps it’s been a little worse for artists in just a few respects; creativity and motivation can be so flighty in the first place, and it requires a lot of emotional fortitude to not only create a ‘new’ thing, but to put said creations out into the public realm to be judged. In other respects, well, they do say art is born from suffering, eh heh. Who knows. But if I was a hermit before, braving civilization only occasionally for food and supplies? I’ve now become a blurry Bigfoot, distant and hissing at the very mention of a camera, let alone human interaction.
Introverts may be able to entertain themselves alone for longer, when left to their own devices in this dry-run apocalypse, but if the small pool of other human beings who they normally rely upon evaporates….. who do you even go to, for help? How do you manage fear and loneliness, when you don’t fully understand how to reach out?
So, naturally, it all went to shit. I have this lovely set of unused oil paints that I bought back in February because I’d finally mustered enough courage to even consider attending art classes in person after all these years on this earth. Didn’t happen. I had even started filling out the necessary forms, planning merchandise and prints, for my very first attempt at tabling at an art fair. Cancelled, as well. I made a long-overdue decision to finally turn my 60+ chapters worth of fantasy comic scripts into a novel instead, during these lockdowns. You want to feel true isolation? Become a full-time writer in the middle of a pandemic, oh my lord. And, since comicking had always been the raison d’être for any of my art in the first place, well… motivation left me. And I stopped searching for it. At times it feels like I’ve forgotten how to make pretty things at all. I’ve edged dangerously close to giving up completely, turning into nothing but a YouTube-binge-watching couch-potato forever. Or worse. And the thought of that happening just hurts.
So, this is why I need to keep a blog, a website, an outlet. Not because anyone else needs it, but because I do. No one truly needs to hear what I have to say. But there’s a big old hole in my heart whenever I’m not drawing or writing or making something, anything. I need that earthly purpose again. A place to share fun and wholesome things on. To fill with my favorite things without worrying exactly who it’s going to please. A cozy digital home.
I’ve told myself I’ll return to social media posting when and only when I have something bigger than social media to show. And honestly, this blog still won’t be my main passion project; that goofy little fantasy comic-turned novel is. The posts here might be a real mish-mash, they might turn more tutorial-focused, or they may just be a bunch of art updates and random musings in the end, I’m not sure yet.
But I think I might have needed to get some things out of my system in this very first post, so that I can start again.