Month: March 2016

Finding My Place – On Fear and Overcoming it

Finding My Place – On Fear and Overcoming it

I recently finished an Arts Entrepreneurship course that was offered through the local art community. It was a life changing experience and one that has helped me find my place in a community that I feared for so long.

I came to a lot of realizations about myself over the 6 weeks or so that I was involved in the course. Epiphanic thoughts became a normal occurrence, and I learned more than I could have hoped about myself, my art, and the community that I kept myself sheltered from for so long.

I got to wondering why I had so removed myself from the local art community. I never took any formal training in the arts; I never had any close friendships with other artists, and so there I was floating around and creating my work in a vacuum, without any of the available supports or a sense of belonging to anything outside the edges of my paper or tip of my paint brush. Anything outside of that was scary for me.

No matter how far back in my memory I go, I have always been Wendy the Artist. It’s how I’ve defined myself and been defined by others. It’s what makes me happy and content. I think I shied away from the art community because I was afraid it would reject me. I was afraid I just wouldn’t stack up against other artists. I was afraid I was a fraud. No matter what my loved ones told me about my work, that insecurity was always there, so I kept myself separate from the Art World. If the art community rejected my work, it would be rejecting me, and if I failed at This, I didn’t have any other way of defining myself. Lost in oblivion.

There comes a time when fears must be tested. This course immediately framed itself in my mind as a risk when I realized I would be exposed to the world I shied away from, and so it became a test for me. It scared the life out of me, and when I showed up on that first day I felt as vulnerable as a newborn; but as I looked around the table on Day 1 and realized that everybody else was feeling the same things, a lot of that wall I’d put up melted away. I felt safe around these strangers, and they quickly became friends.

As for my work? They liked it. I was asked questions about my work; I was challenged; I learned the value of having a community of like-minded individuals to bounce ideas off of. I learned more about my work in a few weeks than I did in several years secluding myself from others. Perhaps most valuable of all, I began to see where I fit into this community and where I can carve out a path for myself as Wendy the Artist. I realize I do belong here and I do have what it takes to succeed in this business. This isn’t just the art community; this is my community.

New Business Cards From Moo

New Business Cards From Moo

The last few weeks of change have all been a whirlwind, and one that resulted in me coming to the realization that I would need new business cards. I’m no stranger to ordering business cards. I’ve done it at least a half dozen times for previous websites I’ve worked on. I wanted this time to be different; special, to add an exclamation mark to my calling for a new life.

In the past, I have always used Vistaprint. I have nothing bad to say about Vistaprint; their prices are great and the quality got no complaints from me, but they never really wowed me with unique options or outstanding quality.

More than a few times by now, I had heard great things about Moo for their business cards. Upon researching their wares, they are indeed a bit pricier than I’m used to. With rave reviews about their quality and no shortage of interesting options on their website, I figured I would give them a try.

So Many Options

Fast forward through me whittling away an entire evening finessing a design I loved in Photoshop, and I was ready to order. I decided on their Luxe line of cards. I wanted something thicker and I loved their options of seam colours.

In addition to the business cards, I also needed my first round of collectible postcards to offer to my supportive patrons on Patreon. One of the things that drew me to Moo was that you can add a variety of designs to be printed on the same product. So, if you order 10 postcards, you could have 5 of one design and 5 of another if you wanted. I went with the Luxe line for my postcards as well and placed the order.

It didn’t take long for me to receive the email stating that they had been printed and shipped out. After just a few days of eagerly awaiting them, they were delivered (Sadly, with a $19 customs fee from DHL). What struck me immediately was the attention to detail on the packaging of the cards themselves. The sturdy, canvas-like boxes complete with ribbon and wax seal sticker holding everything in place were quaint. They provide storage that will keep them safe from everything else in my desk drawer.

The cards themselves are absolutely lovely. Moo prints colours vibrant and true, with lines crisp as a winter morning. They are thick and sturdy with a matte finish, and the blue seam I chose is subtle but adds a little unique touch. I love these cards, feel they represent my brand well, and I feel proud handing them out to people.

What’s In a Name?

What’s In a Name?

We’re all given one at birth. We introduce ourselves, saying our name countless times to countless people. We grow up hearing it during attendance at school, called across a playground, or spoken at a business meeting. Our names tend to remain unchanged for most of our lives. Sometimes we change it through marriage or divorce, or because its gender doesn’t match who we really are. Sometimes we change it because it ties us to a part of our lives we would rather not acknowledge anymore.

That’s why I changed mine.

A few weeks ago I started going through a process. I signed up on a whim to an entrepreneurship workshop for artists with the intent of learning how best to run my art as a business. I didn’t expect it to be such an emotional roller coaster. I didn’t expect to learn so much not just about my art, but about my core self and why I do what I do.

I was born as Wendy, but with my father’s last name. He was a monster. After years of abuse, my mother moved us west from the maritime provinces and we landed here in Saskatchewan. He chased me for most of my life. I was diagnosed with PTSD and major depressive disorder, which affect me to this day. My mom tried to change my last name when I requested it as a young girl, and she was told that she would need my father’s permission and signature in order to change my name, despite her having full custody and him being unable to even have visitation.

I carried that name like an anchor throughout my teens and twenties. I avoided giving my last name when possible (Hi, I’m Wendy!), but when pressed to reveal, it tasted sour in my mouth like bad milk. Whenever read aloud, nobody could ever pronounce it correctly. They would stumble over it and struggle with it, creating an awkward and tense moment for both of us. It was a rare last name and I was the only Wendy with it in the world. Lucky me.

I wanted to change it when I became an adult and legally could, but I became strangely attached to having the same last name as my mother and sisters. The desire never left my mind, however, and it pierced my brain with a sharp and urgent violence a few weeks ago when I began this personal, artistic renaissance.

I found clarity. My entire adult life has been spent going from one artistic venture to the next, working really hard on it, only to draw away and quit just as soon as I see some success. It was like I was afraid of it. I know now what I didn’t know throughout my twenties: that I didn’t want to succeed, because I didn’t want to have any personal triumphs attached to a name that has never felt like mine. I didn’t want to be known if it meant being known as his. I didn’t want him to have credit for what I’ve built for myself.

It was clear. I spent the next 3 weeks researching names, finding their meanings, testing what sounded good but was still unique enough to make running my brand easier. I pored over surname websites hoping that one of them would jump out at me and feel right. I made lists of maybe’s and kept them in my pocket to take out for a second or seventh look throughout the day. I slept on a few almosts that didn’t feel right the next morning. I became frustrated. I felt lost. I felt like I would never find my name.

Until I did.

Let me introduce myself. I’m Wendy Blacke. I’m an artist and writer and this is my new blog where I will document my journey and artistic process with you; my challenges and triumphs. I look forward to seeing where this path leads me.