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Wanted: Friend (Some Experience Required)

I’m going to be honest. When I say that, I don’t just mean for a sentence or two. This entire post is about me being as honest as I can. About myself, about my experiences, about everything. Oh, and maybe I’ll joke around a little.

Putting myself out in the open and asking, “Anyone wanna be friends?” makes me feel very uncomfortable and vulnerable. I have undiagnosed anxiety, meaning it doesn’t take a doctor to figure it out – I have anxiety!! (LOL) I don’t go out of my way to be around people, even people that I know. Even people that I like. It’s hard for me because I’m a person with very specific emotional needs.

Several years ago, from ages 5 to 7, this kind of thing wouldn’t bother me in the least. In fact, everywhere I went, I would walk up to other kids and greet them by saying, “Hi! I’m Lilli! Want to be my friend and play?” In about the sixth grade, though, I started to become much more introverted. It wasn’t really just “growing up,” but rather the people around me who taught me to be that way.

I have had some relationships with people whom, if I were to meet again, I would not choose to be around. I don’t regret knowing them, per se, because even though they weren’t the greatest people, they did shape me into the human being that I am today. For that, I’m grateful.

I want to live by the Bible verse Proverbs 13:20. It says, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will suffer harm.” I’ve been the companion of fools for a while, so I’m hoping to get in touch with some wise men/women.

Job Description

Since I’m a complicated person, I have somewhat-complicated needs. There are a lot of things I look for in a friend, so I think the best way to list them all is… in a list. Woot!

  1. Please don’t just become my friend because you find out I also like something you like. I’ve had a few friends who would only hang out with me because we had a few interests in common, and once one / both of us grew out of those things, the relationship became awkward and strained as we tried to figure out something to talk about. I would prefer to have friends I can connect to on a deeper emotional level – talk about serious feelings, ask each other for life advice, etc. 

    A long time ago, the only thing that brought me to a new friend was our shared interest in Minecraft. Also that we both liked to role-play, and not many other people in our class did. As we grew out of Minecraft, though, fewer and fewer things actually held us together. Interactions outside of our “fantasy world” became awkward and strained until we just stopped talking altogether. I really don’t want another repeat of that experience.

  1. Try to be open to new points of view outside of your own. I struggle with this as well, but it can be difficult to have a conversation with someone when they absolutely will not consider your views. Usually this hasn’t been a problem with girls I have met — mostly boys. Not trying to be sexist, that’s just what I’ve experienced in my own life. 
  2. Be a person who talks and listens relatively equally. I dislike it when people constantly steer the conversation towards themselves, but I also find it awkward when my partner in conversation is just staring at me, waiting for me to talk, or making random noises (eg. “meow” and “blargh”) to break the silence. 
  3. Try to just pay attention and be there when I’m explaining a problem I’m having. Unless I ask for advice, chances are, I don’t want it! I like having friends that I can talk / vent to. When I’m trying to express how I feel about an issue, I don’t always want help. More often than not I’m just talking about it to get it off my chest. If I want your perspective or your help, I will most likely ask for it. 

    I used to be really bad about this, and I feel terrible for some of the things I’ve said when I should have just been listening. A couple of years ago, an online friend of mine was once telling me about a negative experience that she had when talking to someone else online. She sent me screenshots of their conversations and overall seemed pretty upset.A normal person’s reaction: Wow! They seem pretty rude. I’m sorry you had to deal with that.

    My reaction: What exactly is it that’s bothering you? Have you tried talking to them about it? Here’s how I think you should deal with the situation! [insert five-paragraph life-coaching session that would make anyone regret talking to me]

    If my friend had asked for advice, it would have been different, but she just wanted someone to relate to. I looked back on this interaction and realized that I would be very hurt and annoyed if someone did the same thing to me when I just wanted to talk. I want to be better about this, and I’d hope that my friends in the future would avoid doing that, too.

  1. Be willing to have fun and joke around! I have had friends who barely smile and can’t take a playful joke. It’s not very easy for me to be around them. I also don’t enjoy being in the company of people who can’t have fun playing a game. I’ll give an example / recount an experience when this happened. 

    I was having a Halloween party for six of my friends. I’m going to call these people A, B, C, D, E, and F to respect their privacy. During a previous hangout with just A, B, C and myself, we made up a game together with very few rules. Since it was so much fun with the four of us, I wanted to play with all six of my guests! D was alright with playing the game, but E and F really wanted to add more rules. They insisted that the game be more serious, and that it have mechanics like rolling dice to determine the outcomes of different in-game events. This lead to everyone arguing about how the game should be played instead of just going with the flow and having a good time. Because of this negative experience, I’d hope that my friends in the future are willing to be more spontaneous and less controlling. Rules are okay in life, and exist to protect us and others! However, it’s not cool to tack on unnecessary regulations to a silly game.

Those are some basic things that I would like to see in others. But it isn’t all about you! (LOL) Here are some things you should know about me and my personality.

  1. I’m shy at first, but… Those who really know me know that I have a penchant for cracking jokes and being very open about my feelings. But that’s only if you get past my “wall of introvert.” When I’m getting to know someone, I tend to walk on eggshells if I’m not yet sure what kind of person they are. This ends up leaving them with the impression that I’m always like that, but I actually have a very different attitude towards the people I know and trust. So if I seem different at first than I do later on, it’s because I’m starting to trust you more! Lucky you!! 
  2. I’m an artist. I enjoy being creative and I love composing music, drawing, and blogging. Because I enjoy being creative, I can be really emotional at times. I used to be very easily influenced by my environment, but right now I’m trying to figure out who I am rather than always trying to imitate what I see online and around me. 
  3. I am totally cool with my parents. A lot of teens my age either are indifferent to their parents or claim to hate them. Some have very good reason to! I know for a fact that there are a lot of not-so-great moms and dads out there. However, it’s my theory that most people just say they hate their parents to seem cooler. Again, I’m not saying that every person who dislikes their parents is doing it for popularity or to be “edgy”! It’s just… a lot of them might be. v(ouo)v

    What I’m getting at is that I don’t hate my parents. In fact, they’re kind-of my best friends right now! They’re really supportive and pretty good listeners. We all enjoy each other’s company and love joking around together. So, needless to say, I’m not too keen on disobeying them out of spite or anything. I wouldn’t really be the type of person who’d enjoy sneaking out late at night when they’re asleep or something like that. I don’t know anyone who’s tried to get me to do that, but I figured I’d put it out there just in case! I’m a good girl. :3 (LOL)
  1. I haven’t had a lot of Christian friends. A lot of the people I was around didn’t believe in God or Jesus for their own reasons. My ex-boyfriend actually put down my faith by saying that the belief in an afterlife is stupid (which is why he’s my ex, LOL). In addition, Christians around my age that I have met have never been very accepting of me, which is funny to me because the Bible teaches us to be loving and be a light unto others. I’m hoping that I can find a friend who believes in God and tries to be a kind person like the Bible tells us to be. 
  2. I want to get closer to God. I don’t reject people who aren’t Christian, but I dislike it when people tell me that my beliefs are dumb. I believe in God, I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, I believe that we require His Holy Spirit to be able to do good, and I believe that if we ask Him for forgiveness of our sins, we go to Heaven when we die. I request that people not insult me for believing these things, and I won’t insult anyone for believing anything else! I actually love learning about different religions and perspectives because I think they’re very interesting. IMO, most major religions have the same core values, which are love and peace. But that’s a tangent for another day! 😉 

    I really want to become a better person. I’ve already come very far from the person I was just last year, and I believe that if I let the Holy Spirit take control, I can be even better than I am today. I want to pray more when I’m in times of need, because too often I just forget to ask God for help in the heat of the moment. I want to start reading the Bible regularly, because I don’t. I want to be a light unto others, but usually I just shut myself away in my room and hardly talk to anyone. I don’t think that’s what God intended for me, and I want to start doing better. I hope that any friends I make in the future will support me in those goals.

Submitting Your Application

If you’ve read all of that and you’re still interested, then you’re likely either A – super desperate, or B – someone I’d be interested in pursuing a friendship with. Or C – someone’s mom. (JK) If I’m a little too emotional, jokey, intense, nerdy, artsy-fartsy, etc. for your taste, feel free to avoid me at all costs! If you’re here from my Facebook post – you’ve seen my profile picture! Avoid that face!! (LOL) But if you’d actually like to be my friend… well, this is the job for you. If you’re here from FB, then go ahead and message me, comment on the post, etc. I’d love to know more about you and who you are, but not in a creepy way (haha). Really, though – thank you for taking the time to read all this. I truly appreciate it.

After reading your application, I will get back to you within two to four business days. Thank you for your time! 😉

Tips for Online Artists

Tips for Online Artists

I may be new to art blogging, but I have picked up a few tips by observing other artists and looking back at my own experiences with online art. Today, I wanted to write something that could be helpful to others who are considering becoming art bloggers, or maybe already have an art blog. I tried to think about mistakes I have made as well as other things I have struggled with as an artist. Let me know if these tips are helpful, or if I have missed anything important!

Inspiration is okay. Copying isn’t.

If someone has an art style you enjoy, it’s okay to take a few things from it. I like LavenderTowne’s way of drawing cute creatures, I like the way artists from Steven Universe draw faces and bodies, and I adapted my way of drawing hands from cartoons like Adventure Time. Looking at the way others draw helps me figure out my own way to draw. I would say that even tracing drawings is alright at first, as long as you don’t claim that traced artwork is original and belongs to you.

The one thing that isn’t okay (in my opinion) is taking characters and story elements from other artists. A year or two ago, I actually did this. The Crayon Queen (CQ) has a character named Fresh (the second character in the linked post), and I enjoyed role-playing with my friends as him. However, I wanted to move on to creating original stories with the character, and making them available for others to see. Instead of making a fancomic or fanfiction, I decided to instead make my own “original character” that looked different from Fresh… but acted exactly like him.

Here is a picture of CQ’s Fresh (the human version, at least).

Fresh - Human
Find the original image here.

Here is a picture of my “original character,” Domi.

OC - Domi - Original

Hmm… impossible floating eyebrows? Check. One missing tooth? Check, although it looks like Fresh did more than Domi to take care of it. Eyes covered? Again, check. Fingerless gloves? Check, please. They even have the same green capris, although Domi’s are admittedly a more disgusting shade of dark puce. Sure, it’s okay to be inspired by someone else when you’re creating a character. But if your main goal is to alter someone else’s creation just enough so that you can call it your own? That’s hecka un-fresh, dawg.

Don’t expect to be able to mimic advanced art styles right away.

I used to (and still do) really enjoy the aesthetics of manga and anime. In my head, that clearly meant I should be able to draw it, too, even though I had no real understanding of anatomy or joints or anything. This resulted in a lot of art that could be labeled “cringe-worthy,” including the above illustration of Domi the Fresh clone.

When I started watching LavenderTowne, it really began to sink in that I didn’t have to draw anime to be taken seriously, and a simpler art style did not mean a “worse” art style. At this point, I actually began growing and improving as an artist and developing the style I draw in now. I started making my own rules instead of trying to mimic the works of other people. Now I actually feel good when I finish a piece of art instead of lamenting the fact that it didn’t turn out the way I saw it in my head.

The point that I’m trying to make is that it’s okay to start simple if you’re a beginner artist. I draw characters with stick arms, but they still look better than the ones I drew with what I thought were “anime” arms, IMO.

Don’t tell yourself that you’re not “good enough.”

I struggled with this for the longest time. I told myself that my worth came from the amount of followers I had, which was never enough. I wondered why I couldn’t be as talented as the artists I looked up to. I would cry if I made a tiny mistake in the outline or coloring of a sketch I liked. I thought that if I didn’t post a piece of art on my Google+ profile every single day, I was a failure.

Thankfully, I’ve grown out of that. I’ve broken out of the thinking that I need likes and shares to be a good artist. I understand that my drawings don’t have to look like another person’s drawings to be worth anything. I try to embrace my mistakes instead of hating them and myself. Above all, I’ve realized that art should be a fun activity and not a chore.

Once you’ve gotten into the habit of holding yourself to ridiculously high standards, it’s very hard to break out of it, but I believe it’s one of the most important things for you to do as an artist of any kind.

Have a schedule, and do your best to stick to it.

Edit: This tip is mostly aimed at artists who want to gain a following, do commissions, or be a professional. I’m still in school and I have work that I need to focus on, so I don’t have much of an update schedule anymore.

Whether your art blog is just miscellaneous doodles and posts or you host your own online comic, having a schedule is the key to any kind of success. You will have a lot more followers if people know that you are going to post consistently. Haley Mewsome updates Unfamiliar on Tuesdays and Fridays, and has almost 35,000 readers. CQ updates Gloomverse on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and has over 50,000 followers. You get the point. This might just be me, but I’m always very disappointed when I find a story or comic with no update schedule. I’ll never know when to expect a new page, and I won’t know how long I’ll be kept waiting. That takes away a lot of the incentive to subscribe or continue reading.

Personally, my goal is to post something every day. Even if it’s not a finished picture, or it’s just some Mii characters I made on my DS, my goal is to have something posted on my WordPress every day at 8:00 AM EST. Many people think that it’s okay to just post or update whenever you’re “inspired” enough, but that leads to a lot of procrastination and excuses. When you don’t have a schedule, it’s easy to keep telling yourself, “I’ll do it tomorrow” and “Today I can watch TV instead.” With a schedule, you ensure that there’s a reason for you to keep making art whenever you can, and a reason for people to follow your blog.

That being said, don’t strain yourself to have something “amazing” posted. If you’re tired or have a lot going on, it’s okay to post a picture that you drew a long time ago or write a short journal to let your followers know what’s going on. Even a five- or ten-minute doodle is enough. You need to take care of yourself more than you need to post, but if you want to be a consistent art blogger, you need to post more than you need to play video games all day.

Don’t lie about who you are.

This applies to life in general, but I personally see a lot of it in the art community. You don’t have to dye your hair to attract a certain kind of person. You don’t have to change or hide your sexuality or gender to fit in. You don’t have to act like you hate yourself to get love and sympathy. No one should feel like they need to pretend to be somebody they aren’t!

In addition, I see a lot of people online and in person who fish for compliments using self-deprecating humor. Saying things like “I’m the worst” or “I’m a terrible artist” so that anyone with a heart feels obligated to reply, “No, you’re not!” I didn’t consciously intend to solicit sympathy and praise from others, but I often used to make jokes about self-hate because the people around me did it so much. Don’t pretend to hate yourself, because there are people out there with serious problems like depression and self-harm. Joking about these things makes it difficult to tell who’s in truly in emotional pain and who’s just trying to get attention.

In other words (TL;DR), be yourself! Changing or concealing the person you truly are just to get the approval of others won’t do any good for you or anyone else.

Take care of yourself.

Art may seem like the most important thing in life, but it is not more important than:

  • Eating,
  • Drinking,
  • Sleeping,
  • Taking care of a pet,
  • Friends,
  • Family,
  • Or your health.

Many artists work to the point of hurting themselves and, sometimes, the people around them. Some neglect their health and draw constantly, and one day they find out that they have carpal tunnel syndrome and they need to quit making art for months. I haven’t ever done anything this serious, but when I’m working on art in the summer, I tend to forget about meals and then I have no energy. It’s been said over and over again, but tending to your own personal needs as well as the needs of your friends, family, and pets is more important than cranking out ten pages of a comic every week.

TwistedDisastersArts, an art channel I’m subscribed to on YouTube, has a video that talks about this. You can watch her video Michie’s Artist Pet Peeves | Michie Rambles, or just skip to 15:10 where she talks about your needs being more important than art. (Warning: She does use a few curse words.)

My belief is that these six things are some of the most important things to keep in mind as an online artist. Again, if I have left out some very important points, or if you have any other feedback, let me know in the comments! I hope that this article could be helpful to some. As always, many thanks to my loyal Citizens. Have a great day!