You know what’s more important than selling art?

Being myself and having the freedom to do so without people attacking me for it.

The last couple of days have been rough. The images above continued to spark a firestorm of negativity against me. I have been getting criticized from all angles. I have been told that I shouldn’t be mixing business and politics by a couple of people.

It’s funny, I suppose they’ve never read this blog. I’ve been very honest about how I feel about things. I’ve spoken out against issues plaguing the LGBTQ communities when it came to the former director of AutismBC. Why did I do it? I firmly believe that LGBTQ rights are human rights and that someone who is supposed to be representing Autistic people shouldn’t be speaking out against young children learning about sexual orientation and gender identity. That’s not okay. We’re supposed to be creating safe spaces for youth. I knew for a very long time about myself that I didn’t identify as feeling female (or feeling male) and i’ve recently come out as non binary which has been very freeing but also has opened me up to a whole lot of hate from people.

I guess i’ve been bullied for the majority of my life and i’ve touched on that in previous blog posts.

So i’m DEFINITELY for LGBTQ rights. That’s one thing people gave me hell about.

The second thing is my support for Greta Thunberg who speaks about the fact that she is Autistic (but has been formally diagnosed under the umbrella of Aspergers) and how powerful, inspiring and amazing she is! That alone had climate-change deniers and trump supporters coming after me. I can’t believe how many people are bullying a young person with such a fierce nature to create change in this world. They make comments like “She’s a sick girl” or “She needs to go back to school” which I think is just backwards. They talk about her [neurodiversity] like she’s sick, unwell, needs healing or is severely disabled. It breaks my heart–especially as someone who is passionate about creating change, albeit not at the same level that she’s been able to achieve and i’m focused on different topics.

The third and final thing that people were getting upset with me about is the fact that I am pro-choice. I firmly believe in “my body, my choice”. I am not going to decide what other people do with their bodies! That’s none of my business. I have written two articles about being childfree and how I believe in overpopulation, that we’re destroying our planet (so you can see why I support Greta so much!) and that I never, ever want to have kids. I am sure I have some kind of gender dysphoria and if something were to ever grow inside of me and take over my body, I would be in a much deeper depression than I already am dealing with. I’m still thinking about getting my tubes tied but not everyone has (or wants) that option. I don’t need political figures deciding what is happening in my uterus. That’s just not okay.

I count my lucky stars that I am a Canadian and I have the rights that I do because I am truly privileged to live here.

So, back to the title of this article:

I’d rather be able to express myself freely than make another CENT off of my artwork. I am not compromising who I am and I shouldn’t have to be subjected to people freaking out at me if they don’t agree with me. I believe in LGBTQ rights, I believe in climate change, I am pro-choice and I am non binary.

“Don’t mix politics with business” someone said.

You know what I say?

Say that to Trump.

Say that to Chic-fil-a.

Don’t say that to me.

(I would like to properly attribute these images to their sources but I am unable to find them through google image search. If you know the creators, please let me know so I can properly credit them. Thanks!)

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It’s a mood, for sure.

Trying to see through the thick cloud of anxiety and depression is no easy task. It’s a huge, huge burden to bare. The flashbacks have become more repetitive, they feel deeper. Each time I fail, I feel those traumatic events seeping back in and filling those gaps where hope once was. It is a situation full of despair.

I’m so lucky to have these cute, silly beings in my life though. They make it all worth it.

I should be happy or at the very least feeling fine. I think part of the disappointment is due to the fact that I really thought the article on The Mighty would perform better. I thought it would drive people to my website and to my shop, but the views and interactions have been fairly dismal.

The hits on my Etsy shop have totally decreased too. I heard there’s something going on with an algorithm to do with the people that don’t have free shipping or don’t offer it on all their listings. It’s making them less visible. I know for me that when i sell original pieces, shipping is included. It’s everything that’s made by a 3rd party that has shipping separately.

I also should be pleased with myself about having my speech coming up later this week and being approved to be a consultant about issues surrounding mental health and Autism–and yes, I am looking forward to creating change, but i’m also the poster child for those issues. So, I guess in a roundabout kind of way, i’m going to really be able to reflect on my experiences and create change. That’s the silver lining.

I wanted to share some images that my customers have shared with me, which is pictures of their purchases from my etsy shop. This helps keep me going, but sales in the last while have been so dismal. I’m also upset because the way advertising works on etsy is that I paid 4.80 American to get one person to click on one item that they didn’t even buy. So frustrating. I’ve heard better things about facebook ads but i’m just not even sure how to go about it. Seems when I talk about business, there’s people that genuinely want to help and then there’s people who poach on my lack of experience and try to manipulate me to pay them. I guess that’s another business strategy–but it’s one that I don’t want anything to do with.

If I can bring joy to others, even though i’m suffering, well.. I think that’s a way to turn something negative in to something positive.

I tried creating a new plaque that says “cats make life purrfect” but the cats I drew look terrible. The two wood signs I was happy about completing, haven’t really seen much traffic either. I thought they’d be a bigger hit.

My holiday cards are also still up for pre-ordering at a reduced rate. Hoping to have my hands on those the 3rd week of October, ready for shipping.

Greta Thunberg, a climate change activist and fellow Autistic has been taking quite a beating online. It really upsets me that people say such horrible things about her. I think politics are a main driving factor for people to be so hateful in this world. I tweeted about the honesty of Autistic people and how we’re fact based and it definitely goes for her too. Actually, this quote of mine says it all:

Lots of things happening!

I wanted to start this off with some really good news.

My Kickstarter has met AND exceeded it’s goal! I’m so pleased and so grateful!

I’ve been approved to work on a local, digital collaboration project and I will be speaking later this month about my artwork and being autistic. So many things are happening for me all at once and it’s absolutely insane. I can’t even begin to express how totally thankful I am.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

I’ve also made a lot of new friends on facebook and my etsy is seeing wonderful amounts of traffic. The feedback about my artwork is so positive. I am happy that I get to share my story of success and what Autistic people are capable of.

It’s really awesome that I will be able to have Christmas cards in 4 different designs to share with people. The fact people want them as much as they do is something I would have never imagined in my wildest dreams!

On another side of the coin, i’m dealing with some pretty severe stress and anguish because I have someone who has made it a point of posting completely untruthful things about me on Reddit. I’m not sure how to handle this. I’ve shared my side of the story and I would hope people would read it and come to their own conclusions. It’s really too bad because this person has insinuated that I don’t do research when it comes to getting my art on different items and also questioned my Autism diagnosis. They purposely misgendered me as well and took multiple different subjects I spoke about in a live stream to craft a gigantic LIE about me. This person is a fellow Autistic Artist too. I had to actually ban them from my Made by Autistics group for coming after me.

Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

I’m really doing my very best trying to mentally compartmentalize all of the things I have coming up and what I need to prioritize but it’s incredibly hard and dealing with such unnecessary drama takes a toll on my executive functioning.

Ah, C’est la vie.

Putting a dream in motion!

So many people have been supporting me through my Retrophiliac etsy shop.

I have been so hyper focused on creating new pieces of art, I haven’t had that much time to write (it’s super hard trying to juggle art and writing, seriously. How can I do this? I’d need more hands) but wow. The volume of art I am putting out has been insane!

A lot of people wanted Christmas Cards from me so i’m attempting to crowdfund/kickstart.

This is almost like a pre-order since that’s what I will be selling the sets for — but the Picatso card is a bonus.

Check it out here & please share

Thanks so much!

“…And it’s preying on my mind

…That there’s nothing left in my hands but time
Time don’t really care if I carry on.”

I have a few things on my mind so I figured it would be important to get it all out in the open.

Sometimes people send me an image pertaining to Autism with the best of intentions and yet the imagery is so widespread that the notion of it being offensive fails to cross the mind of the person sharing it. I do my best to write about these things in my blog but not everyone takes the time to read my articles. 

I was sent an image of hands in a handshake position that had one of the hands being disgustingly adorned by a rainbow of interlocking puzzle pieces with words like “awareness” placed over top of the neutral/skin-toned hand. 

Autism Daily Newscast

Immediately, a wave of frustration with a dash of anger washed over me. I thought I had made it very clear how I felt about these words and images used. I had even posted this image a day prior:

I had responded with a numbered list of how generally we (Autistics) don’t like skin to skin contact, that the puzzle piece is offensive and that we do not need awareness. I also linked an article titled “the ableist history of the puzzle piece”. The response I got surprised me. It was not taken well. I had to explain that Autistic people are generally fact based and that my attempt to educate had no malicious intention.

I can not sit idly by and not say anything- that just isn’t in my nature. 

On another note, I am in the process of updating my sales terms on Etsy in as many places as possible.

I am not sure how many people know about print on demand but it is a service that I utilize for the majority of my offerings.

Here’s how it works:

I upload my artwork to their website and I configure it on a number of products. The website creates a very realistic looking digital mock up of said item. I add the price, edit the description and list it on my Etsy store. The item will say “ships out of the United States” or sometimes China, depending on where it is manufactured. 

I would say that 95% of my customers live in the USA. It didn’t occur to me that “ships out of the United States” is not enough information in regards to duty. 

I purchase a lot of things from online American retailers and I also live near the British Columbia / Washington state border. Duty is something I always consider and take in to account. I have even been sent promotional items for review and had duty slapped on.

I will be adding “This item ships out of the USA. I am not responsible for duties, shipping and exchange rate incurred” on each listing. I have nearly gone through two out of five pages of listings so far. My laptop can’t handle it. 

I also need to express that some people have perhaps attempted to reach out to me through various channels and I am not always quick to respond. This is because I am still going through a lot of personal things and I am doing my best to prioritize. However, I am under a significant amount of stress and I am having a very difficult time viewing things accurately because of how clouded my thought process is. Anxiety is not easy to deal with.

I am doing my very best and trying to cope in a way that I am still able to be productive. I just need a bit of room to breathe. 

Life would be so much easier…

..If I didn’t wear my heart on my sleeve.

Photo by Rakicevic Nenad on Pexels.com

It’s so hard for me to read people, I know — i’ve written about this in the past, but it’s the truth.

I am vocal about being Autistic because my inability to connect with people is rooted in my neurodiversity. Now, i’m not saying it’s a bad thing (but it definitely can be).

I am still figuring out where my place is in the world and how I can integrate myself more seamlessly in to the environment around me and it’s not going well.

I don’t understand intent from others. I have been taken advantage of or put in situations that I believe will have a favourable outcome, but they don’t. It’s generally the other party who is interested and I go along with what is happening. I meet someone, spend time with them and then afterwards feel incredibly remorseful during my reflection of what just happened.

A lot of the time it can simply be the energy that I sense from others, i’ve been told before I am a “sensitive” and I don’t know the validity of that label, however what I do know is that I tend to repeat scenerios in my head. The more I seem to do this, the worse I feel. It’s the anxiety (once again) propelling me to a very dark place I didn’t want to go.

I have been getting back in to the dating pool and it has been incredibly draining for me. I don’t think i’m going to continue. I put my heart and soul in to everything I do and it tends to make me feel objectified. I am so eager to get to know people and learn their quirks, but I can’t say that it’s been easy trying to find people who understand me. They see me for one thing and that’s it. Also, identifying as non-binary puts a whole other wrench in to that situation because I am viewed as strictly female.

So, I deleted the dating apps and i’m done with that. I am not going to put myself through that hurt anymore. It’s time I focus on myself, my art, my writing, my advocacy work and OBVIOUSLY cats (because, hello, life is incomplete without them!)

Life always throws something my way, I feel like i’m always trying to decipher a code that I can’t crack.

Be kind; for I am fragile.

Accomplishment & Support

I can’t believe it. I actually BROKE 100 SALES! I made it to 110 sales today. This is beyond the scope of anything I could imagine.

www.etsy.com/shop/retrophiliac is my store and here’s 3 new designs!

I also added some fanny packs, a skirt and a tank top to my store! I am so encouraged by the positive words and new people I meet online through my art. I feel lucky to be able to express myself like this.

Coming to terms with identity.

As you may already know (but you might not?!) I already have a hard enough time calling myself an “Autistic Artist” without a few people getting rather upset with me over that.

Now, I am adding a new term to the mix:

Non Binary

Nonbinary, also known as genderqueer, is a spectrum of gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or exclusively feminine‍—‌identities that are outside the gender binary.” –Wikipedia

I have never felt female. I also haven’t felt male. I just feel something else and it’s just a fluidity of sorts. I went through a phase in my life where I would ONLY shop in the boys section at retailers like The Gap, The Bay and Zellers. I practically lived in my carpenter jeans, a “no fear” shirt and a red gap pullover hoodie. I hung out with a few boys on the school yard. We would discuss Pokemon. This was when Red version had just come out — 1996. I guess I was around 8 years old.

I had no desire to wear anything remotely feminine. I didn’t even want to get my ears pierced, learn how to do makeup or anything my sister was doing.

I just felt awkward. I knew I already had struggles fitting in, but I couldn’t figure out why I felt such negativity towards being outwardly female. I still am unsure.

When I got a bit older, I embraced it. I learned how to do my makeup, I got my ears pierced, I wore dresses sometimes, skirts more of the time and styled my hair. I’m not saying these things are necessarily feminine but for me, I equated those experiences with that gender role. I’m not sure I ever felt comfortable dressing that way. I went to a family wedding and dressed up nice and in a dress, but it didn’t feel like me. I may have to invest in a nice pair of dress pants or something different.

Here’s a video that makes the concept easier to digest:

I am still coming to terms with things like pronouns. I know that she/her makes me uncomfortable. I just haven’t decided what I want to replace that with. I’m not sure if they/them would work for me.

I also don’t like terms like “pretty girl”, anything to do with “lady” or “m’am”. There’s just a feeling of not being able to relate that comes off pretty strongly for me. I’m not really sure what about it bugs me so much. I guess when you have something this deep-seeded and it’s been manifesting for so long, there’s a point in which a decision has to be made to live your truth. I’m starting to learn how to LIVE MY TRUTH.

I realize there’s probably a lot of places where I refer to myself with female pronouns and other female identifying words, so please don’t call me out on that. This is a work in progress and i am in a stage of my life where a lot of things are changing and patience is an exceptional virtue.

I definitely needed to get this out and share this with my readers. I know that sometimes there’s quite a bit of time between my posts. I often have to wait for that perfect moment where I can sit down, write and unleash all the thoughts that are building up in my mind. It’s a perfect release.

Too much pressure.

Photo by Caique Silva on Pexels.com

Please don’t mistake me or try to make me

The shadow of anybody else

I ain’t the him or her you think I am

I’m just trying hard to be myself

Oh, society’s goal is to be part of the whole

That may sound good to you, not to me

The Turtles, Let Me Be

All I wanted was the ability to share my art with the world…. and it has turned in to half disaster, half success.

I don’t know how i’m supposed to handle it.

For a bit of a backstory, I posted some of my cat themed art in to some various cat facebook groups. Some were more receptive than others, some banned me for accidentally violating their rules (even though I had made a google docs with the different groups and varying rules), and my facebook exploded. Messages, friends requests, a lot were welcomed with open arms but it was non stop and very anxiety inducing. I already have very, very bad anxiety but this actually made it a lot worse.

I ended up making my own group, Nice Cats for Nice People. We actually welcome those who are Neurodiverse, who want to share their cat-related art and etsy store and try to adhere to less stringent rules.


I then had people writing me, telling me how they thought I was violating (cat facebook group) rules and giving me feedback I didn’t ask for, which made me even more agitated. I can’t tell you how many new people i’ve had to cut ties with. It just hasn’t been healthy for me.

Yesterday, I was in the car, traveling to go to a concert and I cried. I flailed my hands for a short few seconds. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I didn’t want to do anything but go back home, miss the concert and weep in bed. This was after a few people decided to tell me that I was oversharing the negative messages I was receiving on my facebook page and some of the private messages sent to me seemed to have a good intention but had a lot of unwanted, “real” or “brutally honest” advice that I didn’t ask for. I was already on the brink of an emotional collapse and that sent me over the edge.

There have been incredibly positive people and really negative people.

There’s also those who don’t understand:

There’s even people who believe it’s okay to tell me that I clearly have issues after i’ve made it incredibly clear that I suffer from mental illness, which is intertwined with being Autistic.

Being Autistic is not an excuse, It’s a NEUROTYPE! It’s part of who I am and why I behave the way I do. I honestly can’t even believe I have to justify myself to anybody but I have to write this because these things keep happening to me over and over again. I also had to reiterate that my artwork and my Autism are very much hand-in-hand and that I utilize my art to talk about Autism and vice versa. I have HUNDREDS of pieces i’ve art that i’ve painted. I’m not new to this at all. I have been making art my entire life.

There was a time where I really only worked intuitively and for myself, as a way to relax and unwind. When people can’t understand why a pet portrait costs 150.00 USD, I don’t really know what to say without sounding really upset and hurt. It’s a lot to take the personality of someone’s cat and turn that in to my own style. If i’m working intuitively, I don’t think. I don’t need to plan the way something looks, copy features and make it look like someone’s best friend. Getting the features right and the art completely perfect puts so much pressure on me to appease my customer. I’m almost at the point where I have to set my price at something that aligns with my thoughts of “how much would it take for me to drag my ass out of bed and paint something for someone else?” Honestly, I don’t even know what that price would be.

I even made an FAQ because I kept getting asked questions over and over again.

My brain is not only wired differently due to the fact that I am Autistic, but my chronic depression, anxiety and poor coping methods are linked to the fact that I spent 15 years or so being verbally and emotionally abused by my father…EVERY SINGLE DAY. Add that to the childhood bullying and ostracization from my peers at school and you have a brain that suffered from a lot of trauma during it’s most vital developmental years. I also hear that if you’re removed from your mother immediately after birth, which I was, that can also lead to developmental issues. I also am learning disabled. I never graduated, I got my GED instead.

I really want those reading this to understand a few things so i’m linking them below.

I hope this provided insight in to just some of the things I am struggling with. Please be kind.

Amazing Response!

If you’ve been with my blog for a while, you’ve known my intense struggles with trying to get my art out there. It’s been hard, complicated and generally a lengthy process.

So, I decided i’d just take a chance and share my pieces of cat art in some of the facebook cat groups and the response has been positively amazing. Quite overwhelming in fact — and not in a bad way.

I sold 8 pieces of art in the last 3 days. I don’t even think i’m able to comprehend that this actually happened. It blows my mind.

I’m still trucking away at making more pieces of art but it’s takes time. So that’s currently what i’m working on.

If you want to support me, you can check out my etsy at:

http://www.etsy.com/shop/retrophiliac

and

http://www.facebook.com/retrophiliac

Thank you so much!!