A to Z: Dogs and Creative Burnout

“It's important that you don't lie to yourself. If you lie to yourself, you end up with burnout.” - Patrick Pichette

In my quest to commit myself to more personal art projects this year, I burned myself out.

I have been listening to videos from various professionals, who were talking a lot about the importance of personal art projects and also warning about “creating art just to post on social media”. I started my A to Z: Dogs series as a fun personal project that I’ve wanted to do for a few years now. I was excited, motivated, and really enjoying the process of creating each dog.

As I was nearing the end of the series, I realized that drawing each dog felt like a chore, my heart just wasn’t in it anymore. I was making the series to post on social media now, instead of for my own personal enjoyment as it was originally intended. The trouble began when I started to feel this way about my art in general - so I forced myself to take a break.

Creative burnout is a scary thing. For me personally, it’s hard to differentiate between creative burnout and depression. I feel numb to my art, but frustrated with myself because I know I should be creating something.

Every time I’ve experienced burnout I’ve thought about my career choices, thinking I should be doing something else. But every time, when I ask myself what I’d rather do, I say “nothing”. Art is my passion, I love creating for myself, I love creating for others, I love my job. This reminder is what keeps me going; I take a break for a bit, and come back when I’m ready and inspired.

This list contains what I usually do when I need to take a creative break to recharge or think I’m on the edge of creative burnout:

  • Make a list of my problems and possible ways to solve them

  • Make a list of my short term and long term goals and steps to take to achieve them

  • Talk to someone about my thoughts and issues, and be open to their feedback

  • Play video games, Watch animated movies/tv shows, Read books

  • Bake or Cook

  • Clean and Organize

  • Watch speed paints and videos from artists who inspire me

  • Look at my inspiration boards on Pinterest and Instagram

  • Doodle for the sake of doodling

The truth is, many artists - professional or not - go through some form of burnout. We’re only human; be kind to yourself and know that “the wise rest at least as hard as they work” -Mokokoma Mokhonoana

A Review of Moo(.com)

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

I‘d never had professionally printed business cards until the beginning of this year.

My usual process was to make the designs, print the cards at home (or Office Depot), then cut them myself. To add some pizazz, I would take a red sharpie and draw along the sides of the cards. While this worked, it wasn’t what I was looking for when it came to quality.

Enter, Moo.

I had been recommended this company once before, and when it came time for me to send out postcard batches, I knew I needed professional (affordable) printing. They were having a sale, so I took full advantage of the offer by ordering 25 postcards and 50 Luxe business cards.

What really drew me to Moo besides the sale price, was the ability to upload multiple designs for both the fronts of both business cards and postcards, as well as the Luxe option, which gives you a coloured edge lining. My only disappointment is that you are limited to one design on the backs of the postcards, but I’m really digging deep to find a complaint on Moo.

When they arrived, the packaging was classier than I expected. The business cards came in card holders that were closed with a ribbon stamped with a seal. The contents were not disappointing - the postcards and business cards felt sturdy, looked great, and the coloured trim on the business cards (that weren’t coloured in sharpie) made me giddy with excitement.

(*note - the actual products differ slightly in the photos, they look much better in real life)

Seeing a business card with your name on it never gets old, and with these cards, I feel like my first impressions with potential clients will be a little better than my homemade ones.

If you want to try using Moo for your printing needs, you can click this referral link to get 25% off your first purchase.

Moo Rating

★★★★☆ Ease of Use

★★★★★ Packaging

★★★★★ Product

★★★★★ Customer Service


Use the Templates

When I made my first batch of 50 Luxe business cards, I didn’t use a template because I didn’t know Moo had them, and it caused a printing issue that left me with 7 usable cards out of 50. Using a template makes things so much easier and quicker to do.

I contacted Moo’s customer service and they were so frustration-free to work with. My customer service representative was quick at replying, very friendly, and helped me so much throughout the process. In the end, they reprinted and shipped to me 50 new Luxe business cards for free. Talk about customer service!

Find the template that you need here:

Pro Tip: Use the templates that Moo provides to design your cards.

Artistic Growth

“Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.” - Napoleon Hill

Artistic growth is a strange concept to me.

It’s like my hands and mind are communicating more effectively as a team to produce artwork that is better quality and more enjoyable for me to make. Whereas before, there was some form of dispute between the two, which led to art that wasn’t as pleasing to me.

To cultivate this growth, I started with drawing every day and taking self-taught art courses every week. This led to me being confident in my work and creating my own projects.

Some of these projects were just to test myself and to have fun artistically, like my first Instagram series Monokaleidoscopic. This series allowed me to explore outfits and environments, something I felt I haven’t been doing enough of. I was also able to explore the narrative of a young woman meeting and befriending a cat, watching their relationship grow in each illustration.

Of course, with growth comes struggle. It’s not that the more I grow, the more I struggle, but rather, the more I grow, the more new experiences I get to learn from. I look forward to the new experiences I’ll have the rest of this year, and I hope you do too.

As always, take care of yourselves, and thanks for reading,

Kacey

The End

As my graduation date has come and gone, there are still a number of things in my life coming to a close. Perhaps the most bittersweet is the end of my comic Lobo Days (f.k.a. Community Days). I wanted to write a little bit about the origins of this comic and where I plan on taking it from here.

I hope you enjoy.

Fun Fact: This was the first Community Days comic, but I didn't think I would be keeping these two characters at all. Also, pen names. Cool.

Fun Fact: This was the first Community Days comic, but I didn't think I would be keeping these two characters at all. Also, pen names. Cool.

Community Days

It was the Fall of 2014 when I found myself meekly approaching the Student Publications booth at the Midland College club fair. The attendant asked if I was interested in joining, and I explained that I didn't write well or do photography for publication, he told me to come to the first meeting anyway. When the meeting day rolled around, I came and sat quietly, observing the meeting and thinking how exciting, terrifying, and new this all was to me. 

(Sort of) Fun Fact: Todd's name was originally Brian.

(Sort of) Fun Fact: Todd's name was originally Brian.

The editor came up to me at the end of the meeting and asked to see some of my existing work. I had done some comics for a different story of mine and I was embarrassed to show them to her. I felt they weren't good enough, that they were weird, and I apologised and said as much. But to my surprise, she loved them and welcomed me to the staff of the El Paisano as the cartoonist (and occasional illustrator). I would keep that title until I left Midland College for an adventure in China in January of 2016 - which is a story for another day.

The idea for the comic was very hard for me to come up with. At first, I was just going to use the characters I'd alreadymade that had nothing to do with college life at all. But after some thought, I felt that I could do better; I wanted to opt for something more relatable to life as a college student.

Cue: Community Days. 

The protagonist of the comic is a young man named Todd. His appearance was based largely off of the character of the other comic that I had, minus the beard. He wore a green Midland College shirt for the entirety of Community Days, switching colours when he transfers to Sul Ross State University. His friend did show up from time to time, but I decided to have her transfer to a different university as my own friends did. I wanted to capture that feeling of being alone in a new place (they're definitely still friends though!).

Fun Fact: His friend makes one appearance in Lobo Days, #13 - Back in Session (can you spot her?)

Fun Fact: His friend makes one appearance in Lobo Days, #13 - Back in Session (can you spot her?)

The title of the comic series was originally going to be Community in reference to the fact that Midland College is a community college. But I discovered that there was a TV show of the same name, which left me feeling defeated. So, I decided to add "days" to the end of "community" and thus - a comic was born!

Fun Fact: This one was based on a "nightmare" I had before the first week of classes. 

Fun Fact: This one was based on a "nightmare" I had before the first week of classes. 

Lobo Days

Fast forward to August of 2017 to the next step in my education - Sul Ross State University. I had met with the advisor of Student Publications prior to enrolling and had even been offered a job as the cartoonist of the Skyline which I accepted immediately. I was excited to be able to keep making comics and continue Community Days, it was just a way of expressing my personal experiences as a university student - the good and the bad. 

Changing the name Community Days was no easy task; there were a lot of candidates, but none had the same kind of ring to me. When Livin' la Vida Lobo was my only viable option, I discussed it with my boss and she recommended Lobo Days, which is a term a faculty head used to refer to special event days on the SRSU campus. I thought it was perfect, and so it stuck.

Fun Fact: Todd's major was never revealed in any of the comics.

Fun Fact: Todd's major was never revealed in any of the comics.

Todd remained the protagonist, only changing his shirt colour to SRSU red and shaving his beard, transitioning from Midland College to Sul Ross through an easter egg in one of the Community Days comics (can you spot it?). He was my outlet for my frustrations of being alone in a new place and grew with me as I gained more experiences and friends.

The End

I learned so much from creating this comic over the past 4 years. I can see myself growing as an artist throughout each comic; experimenting with layouts, backgrounds, ideas, and releasing my own sense of humour when in person I was afraid to open my mouth most of the time. I began to listen to and observe the people around me, which I feel has made me come out of my comfort zone. This comic has been an outlet for me, and I hope a joy to read for others. 

In many ways, Todd represents my experiences in both community college and university. I know this isn't the end for Todd, just as it's not the end for me. It's just the end of this chapter in our lives, and the new one is ready to be written.

Lobo Days 24.png

Thank you to everyone who stuck with me - special thanks to Kelsey Chiolo, Rachel Long, Chuy, my mother and sister, professors, advisors, bosses, coworkers, friends and countless strangers I've met along the way. 

BFA Capstone: Animals of the Southwest

After an entire Spring semester of stress and hard work, my BFA Capstone (and first ever solo exhibition) has finally come to fruition!

DSC_0287.JPG
DSC_0261.JPG
DSC_0262.JPG
DSC_0267.JPG

Animals of the Southwest is an exhibition of 23 digital illustrations featuring animals found in the Chihuahuan Desert and Trans-Pecos region of Texas, celebrating their role in our desert culture. I was able to take inspiration from Mexican folk art, hence the patterns on the animals, and my own passion for wildlife, especially these animals which I grew up around. These 23 illustrations were made in 4 days over Spring Break after a couple of months of indecision and anxiety, and although it was challenging, it was also pretty fun.

The exhibition opening was very successful, with a lot of familiar faces showing up to show their support. In the first three days, I was able to sell six pieces, meet some long-time followers of my work, and read all of the thoughtful, supportive comments left in the visitor book. All in all, it's been a humbling experience that I would gladly do again, though hopefully without as much stress. 

Special thanks goes to Abell-Hanger for supporting my education, Expedition Art and Grand Companions for encouraging and helping me find my artistic voice, my mother for always supporting my passion for art, my friends for keeping my head above water all these years, my cat for talking to me while I created these pieces, and my boyfriend for helping me install the exhibition and helping me stay confident in my work.

DSC_0300.JPG
DSC_0257.JPG

Week 1 Assignments

I'm still working on a proper upload schedule for this blog, but in the meantime I'll just be posting as I finish some assignments for Schoolism.

The first week's Painting with Light and Colour assignment was to make 5 studies so that at the end of the class we can check our progress. I'm pleased with a couple of these (especially the cowboy statue), but I'm excited to see how I improve later!

KaceyBarton_Week1 1.png
KaceyBarton_Week1 2.png
KaceyBarton_Week1 3.png
KaceyBarton_Week1 4.png
KaceyBarton_Week1 5.png

30-minute Studies

I've been sick the past couple of days and it took the motivation to draw right out of me. I decided to do some studies from pictures I'd had pinned on Pinterest just to get back into the swing of things. I just started the timer for 30 minutes, and when it went off, I stopped!

*Disclaimer: I do not own the reference images, this was just for practice, not for commercial gain. Please go support the photographers and artists on their respective social media sites. Thank you.

30-minute study of  James Balo g 's  photograph  Greenland Ice Sheet, 28 June 2009, Adam LeWinter surveys Birthday Canyon  

30-minute study of James Balog's photograph Greenland Ice Sheet, 28 June 2009, Adam LeWinter surveys Birthday Canyon 

30-minute study of  Linda Hubert' s drawing of David.   Link:  https://imaginee.deviantart.com/art/The-Face-Of-David-195293532

30-minute study of Linda Hubert's drawing of David. 

Link: https://imaginee.deviantart.com/art/The-Face-Of-David-195293532

Rakotzbrücke, Germany; photo by  @J_Riggerss   This one actually took an hour, simply because of the foliage. I definitely need to practice more snow scenes!

Rakotzbrücke, Germany; photo by @J_Riggerss

This one actually took an hour, simply because of the foliage. I definitely need to practice more snow scenes!