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.

robin williams

i just read about the death of robin williams.

how heartbreaking that robin williams brought the world together with his creativity, but suffered alone.

i've been thinking a lot about depression, as i've recently written. re-reading that post, mostly written through tears, i wonder if he had all the same thoughts.

i have been noticing the increasingly bleak parallel between creation/innovation and depression.
a cycleCollapse )
i don't know if this is what was happening with him, but i feel like it's possible.
and then maybe robin decided to outcast himself permanently. who knows the magnitude of how he felt or what led him to take that heartbreakingly painful final step. depression can have nothing to do with how loved you actually are, how much you "used to" mean to people, how much people "used to love" things you created. if you feel that important piece of yourself, the best part of yourself, surgically separated from your spirit, i'm not sure where else you go from there.

the world is cruel to creatives.

if you know anyone suffering from severe depression, don't stop loving them and don't stop showing up.


to dos and tidying

i'm tidying up my studio and figured i'd make a couple announcements on products and things:


it's my last one of these guys.
when i look at my whole magnet collection, it's worth noting that this was my first of the series, I think created something like 7 yrs ago. and now it's retired. but it's made way for newer designs + what i feel is a much more developed style. same stylizations, years of practice later:


why did live journal turn this image on its side?

anyway, if you want the very last blue owl magnet, grab it here

on a related note, i have 3 very slightly flawed travel journals on hand (certainly imperceptible to anyone but me, but i have high standards and would feel awful shipping anything to anybody that i knew was flawed), if you want one - take 25% off with coupon code TRAVELJOURNAL over here


let's bury the hatchet and take a breath.

those last few entries are hard for me to see. I'm glad I got them out but let's just go ahead and bury them now.

here's an infographic I created for
breathing's rad.

just the act of writing

just the act of writing and keeping a journal can make big problems seem smaller. thanks for bearing with me through those last couple - and thanks labrujah and pastels_badge for your insightful comments.

i took a nap and a bath and ate some soup from a can like a hobo and did some more thinking and here are those thoughts:

1. I think I am really run down post-ICON and it is skewing my perspective
I feel like I've been fighting off sickness ever since I got back. And exhibiting at ArtExpo was probably not the right idea. (Though signing at Comic Con definitely was! That was super fun!)
I already have an existing condition (thyroid tumor) that makes me feel tired all the time, and now getting daily reminders to nominate my replacement for ICON has left me a little bit feeling even more depleted and under appreciated.

This is probably coloring the whole way i am looking at my life in general, as i expected nothing but warm and fuzzy feelings and friendship and a sense of community after two years of volunteering and all the friends i included and all the opportunities I created for attendees.

That's not what happened but I'll get over it.

2. Art is powerful and affects people
It's why we make it. But, I recently read the very powerful graphic memoir Hospital Suite by John Porcellino and it affected me a lot and probably has contributed to my feelings of isolation and sadness because his were so relatable and reflective. He wrote/drew an incredible book I recommend to everyone, and I am probably carrying it with me a bit in my emotions which is a testament to its beauty.

But, like, when you're battling depression, be careful with the pyrotechnics of art and music.

3. Some of these problems are real and that's scary.
I honestly don't know what my future will look like. I didn't get into illustration or DIY thinking it would ever become my career, but now that it is, I am worried. I don't think I have a good role model for what a freelance illustration career looks like in 20 years, and that's scary to me, because where does that mean I'm headed? A lot of my predecessors work as hard as I do, if not harder. They promote a lot better than I do. They have dedicated collectors. Their work is better, too! But it basically looks like 20 yrs from now, they're up for the same opportunities I am and they're as uncertain about their futures as me, too.

So basically, although this is my dream life and career, I am a bit down on myself and my work and my future.

But I have to remember that there wasn't a role model for me when I started my career either. I just did it and created my own path.

I need to figure out the answers to these big questions, or at least find a way to be happy with the abyss, the unknown and the possibilities - the way I used to be.

That said: I did mean what I said, about just wanting to be able to enjoy stationery stores again.


let me tell you: never have I revised and rewritten a blog post so much. depression is a monster and the most difficult topic to write about. the fact that Elliott smith or David foster Wallace could output anything about it - let alone utter genius – when feeling this way is something I can't even fathom. I can't get out a simple blog post about it. but here goes. back in the day, i would have password protected something this personal, but honestly, i'd welcome the advice or compassion at this point. it feels good to put words to this horrible feeling that plagues me.

a dear friend and former teacher of mine warned me months ago that I would drive myself to an early death at the hand of a stroke due to all my worrying, stress and depression.

I now think about what he said nearly every day. it probably had the opposite effect intended. every time my ankles tense with fluids where I had surgery as a kid and now get swollen terrible ankles, I wonder if the pressure is the same in my brain and if his prediction will come true - today or any day.

more… a LOT more. and a terrible illustration.Collapse )

Well, I don't know if this expresses what I intended but basically I just want to be able to walk into a stationery store again.


I haven't posted too much about ICON, but I guess now that it's over, I should. Partially so I don't forget things and partially because I need to speed up this decompressing and get back to my life! I've been home for four days and all I've done is sleep. This is what happens when you run a deficit for as long as I did, I guess!

Putting together the Illustration Conference was the shared work of an entire dedicated board of amazing artists / volunteers. As with everything with me, I threw myself completely into the planning of it and poured my heart into every detail of my involvement. I personally invited and produced main stage speaker sessions with Carson Ellis, Souther Salazar, and Chronicle Books (me, Lisa Congdon, Kristen + Christina at Chronicle); developed a program called Kaleidoscope (recruited my friends Abe Vizcarra and Robert Brinkerhoff to co-curate, landing on final applicants Julie Murphy, Lisa Brown, Andy J Miller, Mike Kerr + Renata Liwska); developed workshops with Bridget Watson Payne from Chronicle, Alexandra Zsigmond from the New York Times, and Jason Sturgill; worked with my friends at Land to curate + set up an art show for 70+ attendees; ordered over 300 hand-selected books with Esther for the ICON8 bookstore and intook consignment books from self published authors - its own added complication; moved those books ourselves to 5 different locations throughout the conference; sold them to attendees myself using my own damn phone! (as did my co-chair Esther and our amazing student volunteers); confirmed and ran author signings with Jon Klassen, Mac Barnett, Andrea Dezso, Carson Ellis, Calef Brown, Vanessa Davis, Mimi Pond, Wendy Macnaughton, Julia Rothman, Mark Todd, Marshall Arisman, Whitney Sherman, Lilla Rogers, No Brow's Sam Arthur and Rilla Alexander, The Clayton Brothers, Adam McCauley, Janet Hamlin, Justin Hall, Victor Juhasz, and I think even a few more. Managing lines for some of the above myself. And of course, the Roadshow - a pop up marketplace + portfolio show I planned with Esther over the past 2 yrs that turned out like this:

(and this is a photo toward the end of the night, I'm guessing, because the room was at capacity for much of the time. Pretty great!)

Look, I even exhibited!

I'm really freaking tired.

I spoke on the main stage, too - moderating and participating in the panel about Chronicle Books. I hope people got something out of it or at least that it wasn't boring! One thing that's weird about a moderated panel is that not having any control over how long other people digress or become nervous or self-conscious which can break up the momentum of the conversation! But, I *think* we flowed pretty well + more than anything, it was really nice to connect with a few friends on stage since I sure as hell didn't see anybody while I was running around behind the scenes!

Hard lessons I learned at ICON:

1. People promote the shit out of themselves every second of every day and it is the most depressing thing to witness.

I didn't bring business cards to this conference, because I am the worst example of a self promoter in the world. Even fellow board members had no idea I did so much for ICON. Even my best friends in the world who were in the art show I helped bring together had no idea I had a part in it. Which is fine! Maybe I'm the problem, but seeing how much people talk about themselves all the time in all the places just got to me at a certain point.

I saw attendees and my fellow board members drop everything or put themselves front and center to introduce themselves to an art director, curator or publisher they want to work with. Good for them for their boldness! But man, that is not me.

The positive side of this is I now understand how I operate and what works for me: work hard and put your heart into it and I believe good people will take notice. It's nice that people sometimes take notice, and they're usually the people who are fun to work with anyway.

2. Very few people say thank you.

3. There are Mean Girls in illustration!!! Whoa. This one caught me by surprise. I saw them openly, rudely giggling during other people's talks and forming high school-esque cliques during breaks, shunning each other. I saw them posting their passive aggressive criticisms of other people's lectures to their well-attended social media accounts. How cleverly they put down other people! Let's give them a medal. How do these people find each other and encourage each other to be so exclusionary? I'll never understand.

There's probably a little hypocrisy in posting this observation at all, but I am just so surprised there was such negativity coming from women at this conference, when some of the women behind it are the most inclusive, friendly people you'll ever meet. It breaks my heart that I felt and noticed this, but I did.

Edit: Why am I singling out the women? I've always sensed a similar type of boy's club in illustration. Maybe now that women are breaking more and more into the field, I'm surprised they're doing the same thing, finding ways to exclude and mock each other to try to make themselves look better.

Stop it, people. We all work hard. We all wish for job security. We all want to make artwork people respond to and love. No one comes to this conference because they have nothing to learn. Putting someone else down won't make your work better.

4. You can put every bit of your energy into something benevolent as a volunteer and someone will still complain to you that you're not doing a good enough job. During and before the roadshow, I fielded complaints from a few memorable people - notably from a gallery owner who repeatedly harassed me about where his consignment book was (Apparently "I don't know but I'll find out tomorrow morning and let you know" isn't a straightforward enough way of saying "I'll find out tomorrow and let you know"?) He was rude and aggressive and self-important and selfish enough to demand I drop everything to solve his problem in that moment; he ruined my night and later shit-talked me to my friends, because he is an asshole. One person complained because they weren't allowed in the room before the show opened. And so many people complained that the room was too busy! Um… stop. Stop. Stop. See #8.

5. Related: People are sometimes self-centered and self-important and selfish and it's sad because you know someday either they'll get what they want or they'll be so lonely, and both of those possibilities are heartbreaking.

6. Most of the best people at ICON were people I already know! This isn't a "hard lesson" so much as a nice reminder I left with!

I always go into these types of events hopeful that I'll leave them knowing some wonderful new people -- and I totally do -- but the best best best people for me this week were the friends I've had long established friendships with, the ones who cared for my well-being and checked in on me and didn't treat me like I was an invisible sharpie holder for their book signing, or an avenue to the recognition they've so long deserved, a person to climb over on their way to the top.

In particular, my husband Michael was so supportive of my overcommitment this week and over the past two years and I will always love him for patiently waiting by for me to wrap up my responsibilities so I can be fun again.

Several of the people speaking at or attending ICON were just really lovely, gracious, sweet people and you just root for their continued success. Shout out to new friends Andrea Dezso (I love her as a person and I love her work), instant friend Julie Murphy, sweethearts Sean Qualls + Selina Alko, witty and wise Lisa Brown, the adorable and ridiculously talented Renata -- benevolent new friends / board members Rick Lovell and Owen Smith who helped when they could -- and of course, old friends Caitlin Keegan, Robert Brinkerhoff (near and dear to my heart + incidentally another chair for the conference), Allison Cole, Kate Pugsley, Esther Watson (my co-chair and dear friend) and Mark Todd (sweetheart who worked as hard as Esther and I did) who all kept me sane (ish) as I juggled everything. Check out their work if you haven't before.

7. Without sleep and food and some time alone where you can take care of your own needs and quiet your mind, you will break down. And I did.

8. Stop complaining; nobody cares.
I felt like people's eyes glazed over if I opened up about how I was falling apart, or if I mentioned how I hadn't slept in days, or if I made any mention of the insane time commitment ICON became. And then see #4 above. Lesson learned.

After I finish this post.

reset, refresh.

i've been reorganizing my studio, and in doing so, have unearthed at least 500 loose sketches, now filed in an easily accessible place. i found frames and i used them for some new paintings. i found projects i hadn't yet completed (my worst habit?) and i separated them out to complete or donated them. and i threw away a lot. and i recycled a lot. and i have a bunch of stuff to sell (LOADS of fabric, if anyone's looking. and give a huge lot of my japanese stationery a good home!) and all of this has led to me feeling happy and productive in my work space again. not that i ever stopped! but, you know, eager to get to work and to create new things, now knowing i have space and a place for it.

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About Me

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

Latest Month

October 2014