How Did I Get Here??
If you're just tuning in, this is my second blog post and I'm thrilled to share more about myself, my self-publishing process, and mostly to encourage you in any way I can!
I'd like to use this post as a sort of "get to know me and how I got here" coffee date with you! Many people have asked me if I majored in art, why I decided to self-publish, and basically how I ended up here, with all of these silly animal paintings and a children's book! Lol - so grab some coffee! Let me tell you a little bit about myself.
I don't want to bore you with too many unnecessary details, so I'll try to keep this brief! :) I grew up in Southern California. I went to high school in the outskirts of San Diego (Escondido, CA), but my family moved around within the state quite a bit when I was small. I was blessed with parents who encouraged me to pursue any field I desired, and who noticed my love for art at a young age. They loved that I colored my trees purple, made my flowers taller than my people, and gave my people heart-shaped heads! I can't tell you how thankful I am that my parents did not shake their heads at my goofy, free-spirited, artistic nature as a child.
Besides creating art and writing silly, magical stories, I also love: puns (a little too much! #sorrynotsorry), Ben & Jerry's ice cream, the TV show "The Office," singing (in serious and silly ways LOL), the beauty of the ocean, and spending time with my husband (Justin) and my dog (Ziggy). I feel most connected to God through art and nature, which is probably where my obsession with art really started.
Contrary to what you might think, I actually majored in Graphic Design (even though I love Fine Art!) because I was worried about...well...finding a job. Oh, money!
So, I earned my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Graphic Design back in 2011 (from Iowa State University). Since then, I have worked as a Graphic Designer for Iowa State University, H2M Architects + Engineers (an architecture firm in Long Island, NY, where live now), and for myself! -Doing Graphic Design freelance on the side and self-publishing this book (which led to the official launch of "Phigment Design Studio").
Let's be honest: my love for art is more important than my education. Like many art-lovers, I have been drawing, crafting, and creating ever since I could hold a pencil. A giddy feeling bubbles up inside me whenever I see a blank page with endless creating possibilities. What I love most about art is that there is no "right" or "wrong" way to create. It is purely the expression of yourself on paper (or canvas, clay, metal, etc.) and gives you the freedom to do anything you want! At least, that's what my dad always told me (when other kids didn't understand my colorful, nonsensical drawing style) and I have believed it ever since!
Why the Animals? Why Children's Books?
My journey creating "Animals Under the Bed!" started years ago when I needed a creative outlet from work and my daily grind. I decided to join an Instagram challenge called The 100 Day Project! I talk more about this here on my site, but the project challenges you to create ANYthing for 100 days in a row and share your progress on social media (#The100DayProject). In a nutshell, this experience was both exhausting and exhilarating at the same time! It was the first time I had ever used acrylic paint, and I fell in love with its rich, vibrant colors and layering potential. After I had painted the first few animals, I knew that I didn't want to stop. There really is no other explanation, except that I suddenly became an eccentric artist, painting into the wee hours of the morning to perfect the tiny details in my animals' faces!
It was tiring, and I skipped plenty of days, but my friends, family and followers encouraged me to keep going. Once I had painted 10 animals, I knew I had to do something with them, and I had always dreamt of writing and illustrating my own children's book.
Why Self-Publish? (+ chronic illness, jobs, life)
I will speak in more detail about the pros and cons of self-publishing for you in my next post (stay tuned!! I promise I'll cover it) but for now, I just want to give you a little overview of why I decided to self-publish. In 2017, I was finally diagnosed with a chronic illness. I say "finally" because I have been struggling with symptoms for nearly 10 years now. After years of pain, specialists, testing, misdiagnosis, and dismissal, I finally learned that I have a rare connective tissue disorder called "Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (Hypermobility Type)." If you're curious, you can learn more about it here. In a nutshell, however, it is a debilitating, painful condition that affects my joints, ligaments, and digestive tract (among other things). Unfortunately, my symptoms have grown increasingly worse in recent years, and I was forced to quit my full-time job last July to re-assess my work options. This is not an easy to do when you are 29 and still trying to get your husband through his doctoral studies, but that is for another blog post.
After quitting my job, I needed to do something, and I immediately thought of my animals. It had been a year or so since I finished painting them, and I just thought, "If I don't finish the book now...when?" So, I dug out my paintings, and got to work on writing the cutest bedtime story I could imagine about magical stuffed animals coming to life! Several people have asked me if I ever tried to get the book officially published. I did consider the idea, and even sent out a few e-mails, but in the end I decided to self-publish, and here's why...
MY reasons for self-publishing:
- Speedy publishing: At the rate of my symptoms worsening, I didn't want to wait for a publisher to pick it up. It can take many years to get published (if it ever happens), and I was worried about having to make changes to the book later, in case my symptoms would no longer allow it.
- A Fun Project: I needed something to take my mind off my diagnosis and give me something exciting to look forward to (it totally worked, by the way!).
- Cuz' I Just Wanna! I just wanted to get it out there! Ever since finishing the animal paintings, people had been telling me "You should sell these! You should make a book, kids' line, etc.!" Up until that point, I had been too busy working and taking care of my symptoms to finish what I started.
There you have it, friends! :) This post is a bit longer than most, since it is sort of an overview of myself and the book. However, it will allow me to dive into the details of self-publishing tips, art inspiration, and encouragement with you in my upcoming posts!
>> UP NEXT: I'm going to share the research I did into the pros and cons of self-publishing before I took the leap! I hope you'll join in, and if you've read this far, thank you for the love!