First up: Accessible Employers has been avoiding me for a few weeks now. I do think I found them mentioned in a government budget report article. It seems like they are still being very hesitant to be open about their budget. Which means one thing: They are a FOR-PROFIT BUSINESS. If they were a non-profit, they’d be on the charity database websites and would have to disclose their financial reports.
Secondly: I was a vendor at a market on the weekend and I was so excited to connect with new people and make a few sales.
I also was interviewed by Rachel and Hiiro from the Getting Jewcy Podcast. We had so much fun chatting and I was so thankful I got to speak about things that i’ve been talking about on this blog, too.
Not only was I a recipient of a BC Arts Council grant – which means I have the ability to create more awesome things, but my local MLA (Member of the legislative assembly) Rick Glumac spoke about me at the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria.
I am so grateful that my hard work was acknowledged and that he spoke up about the puzzle piece, awareness vs acceptance and used my correct pronouns.
I’ve also contributed to a few “Nothing with out us” segments on CBC’s “on the coast with Gloria Macarenko”, and i’m incredibly thankful that I have been given this opportunity.
I’ve been keeping myself as busy as possible and I will have many new items that i’ll be releasing soon and I even got my first dose of the covid-19 vaccine. I’ve been working on keeping myself hydrated and my mind in a more positive state. It’s a challenge though and I can’t wait until my family, friends and roommates are fully vaccinated.
I really can’t wait to share more good things with you.
I have been working hard to reach more milestones and I want to announce that I met my 500 sales goal and I have exceeded it. I have had so many orders go out lately and it’s keeping me exceptionally busy, which I am so grateful for. I am reminded of how I am living a dream i’ve always had, and that’s always been to sell my own merchandise. I try to ensure that I also write hand written notes to each customer.
Another goal that was reached was that the Made by Autistics Community is now well over 3,000 members strong. How incredible is this? I saw a desperate need for a group for Autistic creatives out of frustration I had. Every time I just wanted to SHOWCASE my specific cat-related art, I would head in to cat groups and people would ask me if I was selling or they’d tell me no selling was allowed, when all I wanted to do was showcase my art! That also lead me to creating the Made by Autistics Marketplace to fill that need. Both these groups work well with each other. Sometimes there’s a few bumps in the road, but I do my best.
Recently my artwork was licensed for a very special project so when that’s all finalized, i’m very eager to share. I also have a speaking engagement coming up as well so i’m stoked for that.
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!)
I no longer utilize the term Aspergers in reference to myself as it is harmful terminology. I am maintaining the Aspergers tag on 3 of my posts so they are easily searchable, however I am not condoning the use of this language.
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 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.
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:
I have been creating art for as long as I can remember.
I also had a fasciation with running a business. When I was younger my uncle actually gave me a very memorable birthday present. He gave me some business cards he made for me, file folders, an open/close sign and one of those receipt books with carbon paper.
This wasn’t my first taste of business, though At around 15 years of age, I was reselling vintage on ebay. This has always been something i’ve been super passionate about.
Since i already struggle socially, I am constantly leanring new ways to cope and interact with people.
I recently got accepted to a local artist collaboration group and I feel so lucky that I can help others, get their help and meet new people. It’s been so perfect for me and I look forward to the next session.
…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.
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.
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:
why telling me to use their cat for inspiration offends me (I am not spending the painstaking time to get the features of your cat perfect–for free)
why telling me that Autism isn’t an excuse for my behaviour essentially discredits my entire being
that not every single piece of art I make is going to be for sale and that I get emotionally attached to some of my work
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.
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.