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.
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.
Hi Everyone, I don’t ever mean to neglect my blog but i’ve had a lot going on. I had to have a heart rate monitor on for 24 hours, so that made me feel like I couldn’t get anything done. I also did a commission for a lady of her cat in a cup, so that felt exceptionally special to do.
I’ve been moody, as usual and I was considering a neurodiverse job placement agency which now seems to have undertones of being a bit scammy, as well as being involved in receiving funding from a local Autism organization that I have spoken out in the past.
So, obviously I need income – and so many people keep telling me to list my Cats in a Cup artwork on Etsy. Etsy, overall, hasn’t been to kind to me. In the long span of having it, i’ve only made 2 sales.
There’s been times where I have had my confidence mistaken for cockiness. It’s not intentional and I feel as though a lot of it has to do with my tone of voice. My tone of voice has to do a lot with an attempt to mask and be like everyone else when I speak. It’s apparent that I don’t do the best job.
I had this one instance, about 8 or so years ago where I was getting interviewed for this live painting thing and it was on camera. One of the other participants from another team kept looking at her friend, wide-eyed and probably threw in a couple eye rolls as well. I’m pretty sure this was because she thought I was conveying myself in a fashion that made me seem as though I was very full of myself. Of course, that wasn’t my intention. I just felt confident at the time.
How does an Autistic Individual convey confidence and not seem self absorbed? Honestly?! I don’t know. Maybe I need to change my tone, change my walk, change everything about me? It’s an assumption, clearly. I believe neurotypical people will perceive me in one way and neurodiverse people will perceive me in another way and there’s nothing I can do about that.
There are times I feel really down on myself and feel like I missed an opportunity. My Art went viral on imgur and I didn’t make a single sale on my etsy store. It wasn’t my intention to sell art, I didn’t even include the link initially, but I do have to say that it was a bit of a blow to my confidence level. I still haven’t sold anything on there, this time around.
It’s one of those things where there’s such a fine line and you have to teeter between the two to figure out where it is you stand. Sometimes, I have to remember to remind myself that it doesn’t matter what people think of me and that make sure to stay true to who I am.
I never created art with the intention of sale. I create art because of the natural process and the welcome distraction it brings. Although, the more interest I get, the more i’ve felt like it would be the perfect opportunity to put some pieces up for purchase. I am a terrible closer. I actually have sold some pieces through instagram, but I am having a difficult time getting any finalized sales through my Etsy store. I will fully admit that pricing my work is a difficult feat. I want it to be accessible for people but I also don’t want to undervalue the work and materials i’ve put in to each and every one. With that being said, i’m completely willing to work with any budget if someone truly desires to acquire some of my art.
I’ve e-mailed different venues and now i’m waiting to hear back. Not only physical venues, but print as well. There’s no “one size fits all resource” that can tell me of places to submit my art or local cafes’ that display it, i’m completely reliant on google at this point and some kind people on reddit who have given me some great suggestions. I’m very thankful.
I want to mention I have seen the call to artists on Opus’ website and Alliance for Arts, but a lot of those are juried shows and/or require a fee and that’s not something that I am financially able to do. I just paid Etsy six dollars and change in fees – with no sale to recoup those funds. (Fingers crossed)
If you have any ideas for me-I would absolutely love to hear them!
I did hear a suggestion to have prints for sale but it’s kind of hard to scan my art. If you see the image in this post, that’s what a 9×12 looks like scanned. You can see all the bumps from the canvas board and it’s not attractive. If I take a physical photo, there’s always lighting problems and issues with the dimensions or taking a perfectly straight photo, where the canvas isn’t warped.
I would love a mentor or an artistic partner but right now I am pretty self-reliant. I wouldn’t even know how to go about that.