It’s almost the end of the year. It’s been a good year. It’s been a weird year. I started out thinking I would be able to ride the wave of motivation that I started the year with, at least through to the end of it. Imagine my surprise when it didn’t even last the Summer.
I heard someone say recently that, in order to stay awake throughout our lives, we have to continually be reinventing ourselves, and it’s only when we accept that as a natural and good process that we can begin to experience joy in the uncertain times.
I realize, now that I’ve spent almost an entire year trying to play the part of Mrs Carla Bryant – Commercial Artist, that that was a bad role for me. When Adam and I moved to Iowa, I thought, “I’m thirty. I’m an adult, I have to grow up and admit that Money is the most important thing. It’s not the best thing, but it’s the thing that you need most of all.” I figured it was time that I chose the lesser of two evils, picked a brand for myself, and seared it into my soul. No turning back.
But I couldn’t live that way, so I’m reinventing myself. Again. Ironically (being a very changeable person my whole life), I’ve always been resentfully judgmental toward people who change things up in their own lives– be it their hair color, job, identity, hobbies, etc. Why? Well, I guess that’s the crux. I must’ve grown up under a regime that demonized changeableness, and so I’ve always been ashamed of it in my own life. In all honesty, I don’t think that I had ever, until the past few days, even considered that it could be an asset, and not a curse.
So anyway, I am hereby reinventing myself for the time-being as Carla Baudrons, an artist for art’s sake alone, free from commercial interests and shareholders. I don’t know or care how long this fancy lasts. It’s not a “fling,” it’s a conscientious decision based on many fun facts. Here are some, in no particular order:
Starting with my new name: Baudrons is a Scottish word that dates back to the fifteenth century meaning “the cat.” But not just any “the cat”– it’s an affectionate and familiar “pet name,” if you will, referring to a sweet and beloved cat. I first encountered the word in Thomasina, the book, which I read last year and fell profoundly in love with.
I’ve always (literally, always) loved the movie, but the book awoke a fierce thirst in me, broke my fucking heart, and then welcomed me into a paradise of bliss I haven’t experienced from a book since Jane Eyre. ANyway, “baudrons” stuck with me, because it’s kind of unusual, but it’s strong and lovely too. I also like how, in the Scottish vernacular, it’s used without a definite article, more like a name. For instance, “Have you seen baudrons?”
The point is, I’ve chosen a nom de plume for myself that reflects how I feel about myself, and how I would like to be known by others. I’ve dropped the “Mrs” because I never really cared about it in the first place– it was an honorific whose sole purpose was differentiation and distinction, in my quest to become “known” in the commercial art world. Gag.
“Bryant” is still my legal last name, for now, but after dragging it around for several years, I’m realizing it has just as much garbage attached to it as “Reeve,” so we’ll see how long it lasts. If I decide to go the extra, weird mile and legally change my last name, it’ll probably be a few years, and I’ll have to write a dissertation defending the decision to Adam. Which– don’t get me wrong, sounds so fun, but also very draining.
Moving on to the meat of the situation– I’ve decided to drop the pretense that I’ve ever given a shit about making your gift shop “Mrs Carla Bryant original” pandering-ass, meaningless fucking do-dads.
I was headed in the right direction last year, when I decided to get out of custom art, but I didn’t realize that commercial art is basically the same thing. Both professions serve the same master: MONEY. And I’m sick of it. Removing the “custom” only accentuated what a sham it was, trying to make things so that people would buy them. GROSS. It makes me sick even thinking about it.
No wonder I’ve been in such a goddamn funk the past five months! I’m so grateful, thank you JESUS, that I now see the hole I was burying myself in. I was never meant to serve Money with my art, never. And here’s another “goddamn”– guys: I am so. emphatically and sincerely grateful that I have a job that I truly enjoy, and provides me food and shelter. Honestly, it is the thing that’s really allowing for this reinventing. I can’t tell you how lucky I feel.
BECAUSE, this means that my artwork is now FREE to be whatever it wants to be! I can express myself honestly now, whatever that looks like and however long it takes. And believe me, some of the stuff I want to do could take a very long time.
It also means that I might get off Instagram, because “likes” are addictive, and even if they’re not exactly money, they distract and entice like money, and I want no part of that facade. Art for art’s sake. No people pleasing, no attention seeking, no more dishonesty.
I’ll probably still do little markets from time to time, to try and clear the backstock, but for the most part, what I’m making room for in my reinvention is deep and true creative inspiration. I’ve always wanted to write and illustrate books-with-a-purpose. I think that’s what’s next for me. If money comes as a result, it won’t be because I’m seeking it. I’m really, really done with that.
Oh, but to those of you who are faithful subscribers to my Paper Blog, worry not! You will continue to receive issues, as I release them. I might eventually start adding illustrations here, to my Web Log, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Okay, I’ve got to go roast a chicken meow.