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new year

boat illustration by susie ghahremani / boygirlparty.com

i'm hoping 2015 will be kinder.

i'm rounding out 2014 with gratitude that my loved ones came out of the hospital. my mom beat cancer. my husband is on his feet again.

in my heart, i'm hurt. these past few weeks, i received several catalogs from my collaborators that just didn't have my artwork in them anymore. like they couldn't be bothered to tell me that i'm being phased out. i feel old. i feel tired. i feel unappreciated. and constantly ripped off. and underpaid. and mostly just unappreciated.

i feel wobbly.

a week at sea and i haven't gotten my land legs back yet.

i hope 2015 will be kinder. i hope that i'll have more people in my life who value me and fewer that take advantage of me. i hope that i'll have mutually supportive collaborations. i hope that i'll have stability. i hope no one will steal my artwork next year. i hope for health and clarity and more love and wellness within my family. i hope i stop volunteering my time and love and effort toward things that make me feel ragged and abused.

i hope for peace within and without.


i got this advice today:

Start saying no to everything that doesn't directly involve or benefit you. Just for now. It will help you to see how often you are taken for granted.

This is something I have always had a difficult time with. I do a lot of things I don't have time for, things that don't directly involve or benefit me, because I feel like that's part of being a good friend, daughter, sister, wife, teacher, citizen, etc. It's even part of being a good artist. Sometimes you create work and pay for the materials and pay for the shipping because you support what the gallery does, or what the curator does. And there is no benefit in it for you, really - people might not go, the work probably won't sell, but your support was there. That's something.

There's also the intangible - many of the books I've been a part of recently (with the exception of the Hello Kitty anthology!) have been *completely* unpaid. I know for a fact that the "authors" (often fellow artists / friends) make a LOT of money from these endeavors, but again, I thought the combo of supporting my friend's project / potential exposure was enough to cram it into my life. Is exposure a benefit? Is exposure even real?

I think this advice came to me as a reaction to my volunteering for Handmade Holiday, a library fundraiser / craft show / music fest I am helping to organize here in San Diego (and sometimes, it feels, am shouldering the majority of the weight for)

San Diego is notoriously devoid of culture. Our local media hardly covers it, there is a general community disinterest in any event unless it involves beer, there is no centralized visual identity or resource, and -- aside from a small handful of people like me- dedicated to extending themselves to make stuff happen -- absolutely no support or opportunities (at least that I've experienced).

But if people like me don't step up and get involved to actively support local culture and art, who will? Is it ok that it may not benefit me in ANY way, that it completely saps my energy, that I feel my volunteer time often taken for granted - if it has the potential to create a more cultured city with more positive opportunities for artists going forward?

I mean, do I need to set a boundary and say "not my problem"? Is that just what everyone else is doing? I don't think I want to be like everyone else. I just want to have more time, and I don't want to only decide what I'll do in life based on what benefits me directly, financially or otherwise. That just seems like a sad way to live.
My husband and I just drove home from a lovely Thanksgiving with our family and friends. Passing by the Wal Mart and Fry's on our way home, the parking lots were absolutely full. People presumably rushed out of their thanksgiving celebrations to go bargain shopping for Black Friday deals.

I'm all for deals – I know a lot of Etsy sellers offer them too – but WHAT IS THE POINT, you guys? Aren't the holidays about family and time together and thoughtfulness? Isn't hustling out of one holiday to go throw down money for another sort of against the very idea?????????????

I urge you to resist Big Box Store Black Friday madness. Take the day off like you're supposed to. Enjoy time with your kids or your friends kids. or, you know, just resist the Wal-Marts of the world.

Pledge to make homemade gifts, shop local from small businesses, buy handmade and support the work of artisans. The money you might plunk on a flat screen TV Black Friday deal at Best Buy could literally be the difference between an artist being able to make a living at their craft, or…not.

Do whatever you can to bring the heart back into gift giving. Above all else, just put thought into your choices. None of this stuff is going with us when we go anyway, so make the memory/thought/intent/impact matter, not the discount.

Can we all just agree that Christmas was never about coupons?
That $500 doesn't make a big difference in the bottom line of big box stores, but could make or break a local business, a struggling artist, or a non-profit that serves a cause you believe in?

As an artist who makes things for sale and who relies on holiday sales for a lot of my stability for my work, the topic of how and when people decide to support my work is something I think a lot about. And I'm lucky to have such great support from some of my friends and family! I honestly temporarily forgot that we live in a world that thinks of Wal Mart and Best Buy and Target before they think of making something themselves, or shopping from the store owned by friends, or made by artists they love or wish to support.

Seeing that parking lot was a harsh reminder of the Black Friday madness.

Shop local. Shop small business. Buy handmade. Do it yourself. Please.

what chance do the rest of us have?

Another really good article about the value of art in our society vs. how it is valued.
I realize I'm posting a lot of these articles lately. Half to bookmark for self, half because they express a lot of my thoughts these days with greater clarity.

gardensatnight phrases wisely (over here on Ello, which is basically like a new livejournal):

Social media makes life - even personal life - oddly impersonal. We click "like" and feel like we've REALLY supported someone (emotionally, or in their work), instead of actually giving real tangible support. For example, someone is fundraising for a project or a charity, or showing their artwork, and we click "like" and feel like we did something good to support them, when really we did nothing. We no longer feel any obligation to actually put our energy or money where our mouth (or mouse?) is. We don't really show up for people.

(i'm on ello, too)

We need to be better at showing up. For art, for music, for film, for theater, for friends, for family, for life, for each other.

everyone i know is brokenhearted, too.

not for the faint-hearted, but this post, "Everyone I Know is Brokenhearted" articulates a lot of what i feel.

wrapping my head around this part:

Like minds need to pull together and pool our resources and rage against the dying of the light. And I do think rage is a component that’s necessary here: a final fundamental fed-up-ness with the bulls*** and an unwillingness to give any more ground to the things that are doing us in. To stop being reasonable. To stop being well-behaved. Not to hate those who are hurting us with their greed and psychopathic self-interest, but to simply stop letting them do it. The best way to defeat an enemy is not to destroy them, but to make them irrelevant.

read the full thing, and you should, at: http://zenarchery.com/2014/08/everyone-i-know-is-brokenhearted/

have some dignity

i agree with every little bit of this: http://99u.com/articles/32757/the-craftsmans-guide-to-working-with-dignity

Curiosity prevents “this worked in the past” from becoming, “this is all I know how to do.”

“You are who you are when nobody is watching.”

Without humility our own egos often fill the void that should be filled by learning and development.

Dignity means associating your self-worth with the effort placed in your work.

that last one is the hard one.
associating your self worth with the effort placed in your work.
a lot of people associate their self worth with the outcome: the perceived success or failure.
the fan base for it.

put self worth in a job done intently, focused, passionately, with care, with craftsmanship, with curiosity, with effort, with humility. these are the hard and necessary and much-more-fulfilling, authentic, and lasting things.

this helps me answer a lot of recent questions i've been asking myself about what i am doing here on this earth.

Blueberry To-Do List Notepad by Susie Ghahremani / boygirlparty.com


well, there hasn't been much to report these past few weeks. i went back to chicago, to my hometown, met the newborn baby of my best friend from high school. saw billy corgan in a teahouse where my first p.o. box used to be. walked on a trail in a prairie that i've walked a hundred times before. went to the wedding of a dear friend, and drank all the cocktails. went to a play (30 actually, the neo-futurists). saw some other friends. came home and tried to catch up on work. got sick. got super sick. got the sickest i've been in a decade. missed seeing my parents. went to see the breeders. went to see sebadoh. really want to go see the aislers set in los angeles, but think i might still be too sick to. saw kinky boots, the play. lola was something. read a lot. slept a lot. watched a lot of bojack horseman with my husband. coughed a lot. fell behind on work. perfected a syllabus. pet the cat. joined ello. thought about my future, thought about my past. you know, same ol'.
one of the best things i've been doing lately is making regular trips to our new central library. i've been there a lot because i'm volunteering to plan a craft show / market there on december 13th (yep, me with the volunteering again!) but also because i just love it as a building.

i feel like the quality of a city is directly reflected in their quality of library, and san diego just got a big upgrade last year.

i feel like my every visit to the library is like an artists' residency, if i look at it the right way and use my time wisely. and it's free, which always makes me feel so fortunate and lucky to have such a resource in my life. much of my artwork is informed by things i've read or thought while spending my life in museums, parks and libraries.

absolutely zero of my artwork is informed by pinterest, which is another in a long list of reasons of why i believe artists should not be drawing inspiration from pinterest. there is some irony in that i actually use pinterest a lot, but i don't use it as an influence or reference for my artwork. i don't want my artwork to become a facsimile of things that are trendy; i want it originate from my viewpoint alone. that is the point of art, and as i have written many times before, the focus is not to only "make art that sells." /end of my ongoing crusade to make artists aspire to be artists and not internet celebrities again.

i digress.

today, i sketched photos of plant life from reference materials, used the pencil sharpener of a neighborly stranger, shared my lunch with someone who needed it more than me, met a woodworker from craigslist whom i handed some plywood off to, and spent hours in a meeting to plan the aforementioned craft show. but here are other things i've enjoyed recently while at my local library:


art. this one by local artist josh eggleton spoke to me for obvious reasons. from the incredible gallery on the 9th floor, each time i've visited, it's been curated beautifully. among my favorite galleries in this city, high on the list.


old, weird library stuff. i love card catalog cards, and well-loved (at least, once upon a time) checkout cards like this.


old, weird, random stuff. once i found a runaway's note on a post it in a book about whales. today i found this treasure trove of old photos, returned it to the lost and found as i can only imagine the heartache of the person who lost it.


weirdo endpapers. secretly, or maybe not so secretly, i'm a connoisseur. i spend a lot of time thinking about how to best use end papers, and so i appreciate when others have used theirs wisely.
related: look at the weirdly long format of this book!


research. look at these peepers! (my favorite part is the paw on the bottom left) i love learning about what i'm drawing, and drawing as i'm learning. the library is like an unlimited artist's residency in this way.


discovering books i've never heard of. this one is entirely block printed. "Swan Sky" by Tejima. just Tejima, like Madonna or Cher.


finding books i've heard of but hadn't gotten the chance to leaf through. (this one's "along a long road" by frank viva)


revisiting old favorites. this one's "the frog in the well" - illustrated by longtime favorite illustrator / legend roger duvoisin


so is this one. (from "hi, mister robin!", also illustrated by roger duvoisin + power author alvin tresselt -- they did a few books together)


discovering new favorites. check out this weird bear/pear poem excerpt. sometimes i think i am just not weird enough to be an artist, which is saying a lot because i am a weird ass person.


the outdoor spaces at my library are pretty wonderful, too.


and so is the neighborhood surrounding. this is a "pocket park" made of palettes, repurposed as a neighborhood space and installation.


i am a pretty big fan of the library.
support mine with a donation or go support yours.

mine needs all the help it can get.

so it can stay awesome.

good article

from Real Simple:

“Often, people with depression will seem despondent despite the love and encouragement received from others. It may even seem as if it doesn't register or is unwelcome,” he says. “However, this isn't true. This level of support is one of the main reasons that keeps a severely depressed person going from one day to the next.”

fifty fifty updates

well, i have a lot to catch up on. because we're nearly 3/4 into the year and i'm only at 36 movies, 24 books, 34 paintings and 15 tangible skills.

The tangible skills resolution is probably the toughest to quantify. For example, I learned how to set up my husband's P.A. for a wedding the other day, but I wouldn't count that. And half the time, I'm learning things and not even registering them as new skills unless it's something I sought out i.e. in a class.

But boy, I have some reading to catch up on. goodreads tells me i'm only 6 books behind schedule but the holidays are coming and I know that now's the time to soak it in, while work is slow. Too slow if you ask me.

Bests so far:

Movie: Zombieland
Book: A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
Painting: Tiger, or Night Forest, both below.
Skill: Copperplate calligraphy



I should probably paint larger more often.

I like the subtleties in the tiger painting. Minor shadowing. Colors that reflect a drier landscape. Things probably only I notice but were careful decisions.

Night Forest I like for almost the exact opposite reason. It was very loosely planned and painted and just kind of made up as I went along. And it's big, for me.

About Me

Hey, I'm Susie. I'm a painter, illustrator, crafter, musician, keeper of various pets and proprietor of the website boygirlparty.com

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April 2015