Blog| How to Show Artists Some Love

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I debated writing something about love and our relationship with Valentine’s Day, but hey, this works too.

I see a lot of different comments and posts about loving an artists work and wanting to support them, but not being able to because you don’t have money. I feel like this a lot with artists I love and support. But here’s the thing: there’s a ton of ways you can help and support artists (whether this be painters, illustrators, musicians, writers, etc.) without money!

Since me and Rony are in Convention-Prep Hell right now, I thought I’d share some ways you can help!

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With Money

This part is easy right? You buy things from them! Ta-Da! You supported an artist! But there’s actually a whole lot more ways than just buying merch and prints!

Support their Patreon

Patreon, if you don’t know, is a subscription service that lets you pledge a certain amount per month or per thing they make. Depending on how much you pledge, sometimes the artists set up different rewards! Exclusive blog posts, sneak peeks, livestreams! Sometimes even physical things like letters, postcards, art, commissions, etc. It’s a great way to get provide a steady stream of income for artists! You are directly contributing to their art!

Buy a “Coffee” on Ko-Fi

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Ko-Fi is a non-subscription tipping service! Versus Patreon where you are pledging money, you can choose to Buy a “Coffee which is essentially donating $3 to the artist. You can choose to donate more and some artists will send you things in thanks! But it’s a no-string way to give money once or donate just a little bit! Like something they’ve been doing, buy them a coffee!

Online Store

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Lots of artists, like myself, have online stores. Some use Etsy, Storeenvy, BigCartel, etc, or through a print on demand service like Society6 or they have their own set up through their website! Like I stated before, this is the most common form of support! Some of these even have it where you can Favorite Items, Shops, and Leave a Review! I suggest doing all of these as that can help the artist reach more customers!

Direct Sales or Events

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Don’t want to deal with shipping? Get it from them yourself! If you see an artist you love at a convention or event, buy from them! This cuts out shipping costs, online store fees, and helps so they have less to take home!

Commissions

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Commissions, if you don’t know, is paying an artist to draw something you request. I only do a few because it stresses me out trying to make sure I make something a customer will like. But I do like doing them sometimes. Artists will sometimes open up a limited amount so they don’t have to rush through them, will do them in emergencies or just to give themselves something new to draw. Just note, commissions aren’t always cheap. Versus getting a print or reproduction item, commissions are one of a kind and you usually get the original piece of art. But that’s part of the lure and they help a bunch!

Crowdfunding

You probably have heard of Kickstarter and GoFundMe, right? That’s crowdfunding. Sometimes artists have projects that need support before they can go further. Sometimes it’s making enamel pins, sometimes a statue or board game or card deck. These tend to be higher quality, limited edition, or more unique items rather than a print or a sticker. You can pledge a certain amount of money based on tiers and get a reward based on how much you sign up for! A lot of artists do this for Enamel Pins. Say you want one. You would pledge $10 (or however much) based on the tier and if it reaches it’s goal, the project is funded and you get the pin! It’s easy!


Alright, that’s all I’ve got for Supporting with Money! Let’s move on to the other ways! I’m gonna break this down further into categories!

Without Money

Social Media Accounts

Social media is the fastest, most public form of advertisement a creator has. It’s free and it’s a direct way to reach audiences. And it’s a provides an easy way to support!

  • Like a Post
  • COMMENT!
  • Retweet/Share
  • Follow/Subscribe
  • Engage
  • Tag
  • Hashtag

Let me break that down further. A lot of these sites have algorithms that will determine when posts or profiles get recommended, how much they appear on feeds, etc. They’re awful and confusing and I won’t go into them. But I will say that yes, Liking a post does help but Commenting and Engaging with the post or profile does a ton more! (As well as Following/Subscribing)

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Also yay on 1200 posts lol

The algorithm sees that people are interested and interacting when you comment and engage and pushes the post to be shown a bit more. You Like a post on Facebook? Guess what, now your friends are seeing that post too! Maybe they think the artist is cool and starts following them? Congratulations, you just helped that artist expand their support base!

Following and watching Instagram/Facebook/Snapchat stories help too! View counts are taken into consideration there!

Engagement is the best and biggest way you can help and it can be as easy as just saying how much you like the art piece or commenting on the caption!

Then there is Retweeting and Sharing! I recommend this a ton over Reposting because the post is still linked to the artist’s profile so they can still get the engagement numbers! But if you must repost, tag and credit the artist! That way your friends and followers can follow the artist too!

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What else can you do with Social Media? Say you bought something from the artist already or saw them at an event? Take a picture and tag them! Link them in the caption! Hashtag it with their name! Have an art piece of theirs that happens to be in your selfie? Tag it! Artists love seeing their work in the wild and again, it links their artwork back to their profile!

Events

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Sometimes you can’t always buy stuff, but attending and sharing an event can help a bunch! I do a ton of things and love it when people come up and chat about art. That support means a bunch because they physically came to a thing because of me!

I advertise a lot with Facebook Events and having people share it or invite people can help me out so much! That’s more eyes on my page and more possible people that will like my work!

Word of Mouth

Sharing Events is basically the new Word of Mouth. So Invite people, tell your friends, show other people an artists work or let them know when they’ll be at an event!

And hey, you know someone putting on an event or a gallery needing an artist? Drop their name by them! Show them their work! This actually can help a ton because we aren’t omnipresent beings. We don’t always see artist calls or gallery’s posts. I’ve actually gotten invited to a few events this way! It helps!


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There’s a lot more little ways you can help, but the main idea is that you don’t have to have money. Interacting, engaging, sharing, helping the artist get more eyes on their work can help an artist’s base grow so much and it’s free and easy!

I hope this helps you to show a little love to creators you love yourself! We love what we do and we try hard, but there’s a reason why it’s called a support base. Fans and appreciators are our foundation.

Thank you so much and Have a Happy Valentine’s Day! We’re a week away from Lubbock-Con and I’m excited to be able to see so many of you in person!

And if you have any more ideas on how to support artists, comment! Artists, comment with what support you think is most beneficial!

-Sam <3

PS. Here’s the links to all the places you can support me ;)

http://www.instagram.com/Raicodoll
http://www.facebook.com/Raicodoll
http://www.ko-fi.com/raicodoll
http://www.raicodoll.etsy.com
https://society6.com/raicodoll

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Blog| Meow Wolf

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Santa Fe holds a special place in my heart. It was the first place me and Marisa went on a road trip to without our parents, completely on our own, after we graduated. We went on a whim, just to experience something for ourselves and to feel like adults. 7 years later and we’re back and I’m still finding things I love.

Rony, me, Marisa, and my friends Alex, Jazmin and her husband Brandon all rented a beautiful Airbnb for our stay. It had two stories, a nice kitchen, dining room, tv room, and a living room with a fire place. That fire place came in handy. It was off a golf course so the only downside is that when we went to the backyard patio, you had to watch for golf balls. But there was an adorable neighbor heeler named Penny that loved pets and attention.

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We got to town on Friday, went to the Airbnb, Trader Joe’s for groceries and baking stuff, and then went to eat at Jambo Cafe. It was a really nice and cozy African restaraunt where we got to eat traditional foods and try something new. It was delicious and though I’m a picky eater, I went adventurous and tried the Harissa Spiced Lamb Sandwich which was basically slices of Lamb and veggies on a fluffy pita with yogurt sauce. It was very very good and I did NOT overeat this time (no judging).

Friday was very much a resting, chill day. We lazed around, I watched everyone do Yoga in our room, and we all messed with out planners. We ate strawberry ice cream Mochi in bed and passed out early.

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Saturday was hella busy. We got up early, got dressed and went to the Farmer’s Market. There were so many interesting foods and stalls that we broke and got cash so we could buy some things. We all got bundles of flowers and Sage and little handmade wreaths with chili peppers. Rony got a Lindberry Donut and I bought a jug of the most delicious Cider (which unfortunately went bad on the way home T_T)

The artist market was across the street so we ventured there too, taking a look all over the Railyard. Rony found an old Halloween card of Frankenstein saying “Boobs” instead of Boo and we hung out at a fairy tale/medieval stage set while Marisa and them ordered food from a stall.

Our last stop at the Railyard was The Ark bookstore which is a New Age shop. They had a beautiful selection of crystals and art and everything I love. I found 2 neat little enamel pins, a watercolor postcard, and Marisa bought me a beautiful Tarot card deck for my birthday since it’s on my goals list. It’s gorgeous and I love it. Afterwards we went to eat at the Plaza and explored a bit, going to the Cathedral and finding a little Christmas shop for Alex.

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After a quick stop home, we went on to the main event. Meow Wolf. I’d been seeing different things about Meow Wolf for a while and followed them online. It increased after we went to Ruidoso and hung out with Rony’s family. One of Rony’s cousins visited it multiple times and was in love and it made me want to visit even more.

If you don’t know, Meow Wolf is an interactive, immersive art exhibit with an overall narrative. The place was funded by George R.R. Martin and was created by a giant artist collective and has roughly 70(?) rooms to explore. It’s a permanent installation but is updated regularly so something is always new and they hold concerts, workshops, and have a Maker’s Lab. It’s an absolutely amazing place and close to the idea of what I want to make in my Artist Market/Studio idea.

There were so many people there that I wasn’t sure how it was going to work. I was interested in figuring out the story but knew it was going to be hard with a crowd. You walk in and there’s a house. Basically, the whole story is you’re trying to figure out what happened to them and why there are portals all over their house.

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The puzzles and figuring out clues was my favorite part. We read the letters in the mailbox, read the newspapers in the kitchen, the kids’ drawings, magazines, searched videos and computers and decrypted alphabets and safes. We were so immersed and interested in this strange story. I don’t want to give too much away, but if you like Sci-Fi mysteries then I think you’ll love it.

The first place we went was through the refrigerator. Yep. Through it. It led to this space portal travel agency thing where we had to pick a door to go through. I don’t remember the first one’s name but it led to this trailer that was decked out in lights and cactus. Then we went to the main hub, the tree house. It’s amazing. The floor is carpet but looks like bark and there’s a carpet pit to lay in, if you slide through the dryer (which is much harder than it sounds, you end up in the pit area. You can climb up the stairs to the tree house or go to the second story of the house and explore those rooms. Everything led to more and more doors and more rooms and every nook and cranny had even more stuff.

We didn’t even realize you could hit the mushrooms on the tree and they would light up.

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We found a arcade, a space Chinatown, a Mammoth with musical bones, a rainbow aquarium forest, anime room, an upside bus, and so much more. It takes a minimum of 2.5 hours just to see everything and we were there well over 4+ hours and I could have stayed longer just to soak it all in.

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The whole experience invites you to play and snoop and touch and handle everything (just don’t break anything). We pressed buttons and opened drawers and climbed over everything. There are small spaces to crawl and stairs and sometimes we’d think we found a place that was off limits but it led to even more things.

You could get lost in the maze of this house. I was constantly looking at everything, seeing how it was made, trying to figure out how it was tied to the narrative and what it meant.

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It’s been a few days since I’ve left and I’m still in love with this place. How it came to be, how each room feels different but cohesive and all the love that went into it. Rony and I talked about it and he felt really skeptical that it was going to live up to the hype but he was blown away. It’s something you have to experience and touch and see.

They’re actually going to be closed at the end of the month to add new rooms and updates and that makes me excited to go back. And I want to see a concert there so badly. I want to see how they utilize the space and how it all works.

I’ve talked with Rony a lot about my long term goal. I want to have a building where artists can rent studio/shop space and work together and have a place to display and sell their work. Huntsville’s art market gave me the inspiration for that aspect. Having an art walk and this building where people can discover art and buy from local artists directly. But I’ve wanted some sort of experience that draws people in. I’ve seen things like Refinery 29’s 29Rooms and the Ice Cream Museum and have loved that idea.

Meow Wolf is that to the extreme. And I love that. It’s inspiring to see the idea of immersive art paired with narratives. That’s definitely going to help and shape the idea of what I want to create in the future.

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Finally, we decided we had discovered all the rooms and seen what we could. Our feet hurt and our minds were boggled and we were still discussing the story on the way home. We stopped by the gift shop and Rony bought me my very own Meow Wolf plush and we got a Charter enamel pin and some patches. By the powers that be, we ended up buying the Halloween event shirt not knowing it was for Halloween. It was cool, we liked the design, and now it’s a little extra special.

At the Airbnb we ordered pizza, talked and played music, and stayed up until 3am playing The Thing Boardgame. I was the Thing and I won. Suck it.

The next morning we packed up and started the ride home. The pups stayed at a Pethotel for the first time and were excited to see us. We snuggled and I was loved and it was a perfect way to turn 27.

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I love my friends and I’m so glad they got to come with me to celebrate. Thank you to Rony for making sure I was happy this whole weekend.

Thanks Santa Fe, we love you

-Sam <3

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Blog| 27 Before 27 Recap

And so we’ve come to the end of being 26!

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It was a whirlwind of learning experiences, trying new things, and learning a bit about myself. There is always room for improvement and I think overall, I’m becoming a better person. I never would have thought that as I turn 27, I’d have a business, be in galleries regularly, be involved in events and running them, and I would know so many people.

It’s been an absolutely crazy ride. I didn’t get to do all the things, but I did a lot of them!

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  1. Save at least 4k for moving
  2. Connect with friends more outside of events 
  3. Finish the #52Selfies Project
  4. Minimize my possessions
  5. Do one big women’s event in town
  6. Visit family more often
  7. Take more napsIMG_0675IMG_0969
  8. Go to another concert
  9. Get another tattoo and get my nose pierced
  10. Have a solo gallery
  11. Paint a large painting
  12. Be less wasteful
  13. Do at least 3 cosplaysIMG_5593IMG_8604
  14. Look into breast reduction
  15. Do things that make me happy, not for money
  16. Be less harsh with my body image
  17. Learn to say no and do not stress yourself
  18. Be free to feel confident in how you look, what you love, and to not be serious all the time
  19. Take care of my body and health better
  20. Take a class
  21. Show more gratitude
  22. Try a spa
  23. Stop biting my nails22195453_10209780669383485_6721010785168625956_n
  24. Go roller skating again
  25. Start meditating
  26. Finish a short story and submit for publishing
  27. Learn to go running

I have been hanging out with friends more and more outside of events I’m in charge of, I’ve gone to see my mom and sister more, and am trying to make a more conscious effort to go and hang out with my dad. I think with things slowing down this year and with a new niece on the way, I can keep this going.

Self-care has been big for me. I’m my own worst critic and have had a body image problem my whole life. I’ve learned to let things go a bit, wear things I love, and take care of myself. I fell off the bandwagon a bit with eating healthy but I’m good to get back on it. And I take naps now! Yay!

I barely got getting a tattoo done at the last minute! We went and got small tattoos last Friday, after our last gallery! No piercing though so it’s only have crossed off.

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This is the year we not only adopted Leon, but fostered Mae Mae and 5 kittens. I’m very lucky to say we’ve gotten two of the kittens into new homes and Mae Mae as well who is being very loved right now. Rescuing has been such a reward and I’m so glad these babies are in good homes.

Of course, not everything got crossed off. I didn’t get to take a class, go to a concert, or get 4k saved up. I’m barely getting back into writing and yeah, running is a no go for me though I did use the treadmill a few times!

Overall, I did 16.5/27!

I’m proud of myself for doing so much. Sometimes, I need to just cut myself some slack and try something different. Slowly I’m getting the hang of this adult thing it’s not as scary as I thought.

Here’s to 27!

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Happy Birthday to me :)

-Sam <3

Blog| The Importance of Pixar’s Coco

Last night I finally got to see Coco with Rony after waiting what seemed like forever. Simply: it’s my new favorite Pixar film and it’s the perfect example of how I wish all cultures are treated in fiction.

(This may be a little jumbled, but my thoughts are scattered right now.)

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A little background.

I’m a woman of color. My family has lived in the south pretty much forever, mainly Texas, so we’re pretty Hispanic. That being said, I didn’t grow up heavily in my culture. When we were babies, my parents moved away to Lubbock and away from the small town they grew up in. Charlotte is tiny and mainly consists of my family from both sides. It has one grocery store (that my grandparents started), one gas station, a library, and one main road. It’s a “driving through on your way to San Antonio” town.

11807567_10203646150394808_5512592928468078294_oLubbock and Charlotte are very different. My life in Lubbock was always more modern where we played video games, went to the mall, ran around with our bikes, and watched TV on the weekends. In Charlotte, you can barely get cell phone reception.

During the summer, we’d visit my grandparents and my sister would work in their store and I’d walk down the dirt road to the library. My grandpa taught us how to catch Tarantulas for fun (you fill their hole with water until they pop up. I didn’t say it was a humane way) and we would eat Watermelons from his giant garden or run across the street to the snowcone stand my uncle started. There were always a ton of stray cats or chickens running around in the road and I would play with them all the time.

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One of my most prominent memories was playing in the kiddie pool with my cousin and sister and my family skinning rabbits on the porch. The skin comes off entirely in tact so they looked deflated. For holidays, they would make menudo and barbacoa and I would walk into the kitchen and there’d be a giant, skinless cow head with it’s tongue sticking out. They would dare me to poke it’s big creepy eye.

But we didn’t really celebrate a lot of Mexican traditions. There wasn’t a Dia de los Muertos celebration (that I knew of) and even though my older relatives like my grandmother and some of my uncles and aunts knew Spanish, no one taught us. It felt like a divide between the old and the new. The kids only cared about their friends and new games. The older we got, the more the divide grew, especially with the kids from out of town.

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I would visit as a teen and I would just sit with my laptop and edit videos and write stories. I didn’t interact much with anyone. My grandpa had passed away, who I was closest too, and my favorite Uncle that I would hang out with had moved away to be an air marshal. The disconnect grew.

I haven’t been back in years. The older I’ve gotten, the more I realize the loss of that culture. I’ve talked previously about being ashamed of being brown skin colored and how when I was younger I wanted to be lighter. That need to fit in, to be like everyone else had already started. I didn’t want to be Hispanic. I was stuck in between. I got called a “coconut” which is basically the equivalent to “Oreo” for African Americans. Basically it’s someone who doesn’t fit into the mold of how you should act. It’s a bullshit term but most people of color have heard it enough to know what it means.

Getting involved with comics and fiction and Feminism, I’ve fought for representation without realizing I’ve never really embraced my own culture. I wanted their to be Hispanic, African American, Muslim, Asian characters but I still felt like an outsider in the Hispanic community. So we started trying.

Rony’s been learning Spanish so he can talk to his Grandmother without a translator there. We’ve been trying to learn our family’s recipes and traditional food. When we lost family members and animals, we started celebrating Dia de los Meurtos to help us cope. I learned more about the women and figures in our history. I learned not to be hesitant about accepting my Latina roots and how I look.

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When the trailer came out for Coco, we got excited. A major film was featuring our Hispanic culture with a Latin cast and actual Latin music AND it looked like they were actually going to be respectful. It was amazing. Then we started hearing the complaints. It’s a rip off of Book of Life, we already had a Day of the Dead movie, etc.

We saw Book of Life. I liked it, but it didn’t give me the same feeling Coco did and honestly, they’re COMPLETELY different. Rony and I discussed it on the way back home. Yes, they both have Day of the Dead settings, but complaining they’re too similar based on just that is like saying being moves are set during Christmas or Halloween then they’re all the same. Dia de los Muertos is a holiday. Why can’t we have more than one movie set during it?

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This past October, we went to Disneyland and they turned the Plaza into a Coco themed area. They had a female mariachi band play along with dancers and they would sing songs from the film. The crowd was majority Latin of all different types. Young and old, it was amazing to see them all enjoy this at Disney of all places.

They even had an area where you could write messages to your loved ones or memories about them and hang them on a marigold chain. I was amazed at how respectful everything was of MY culture. Because it was mine. The whole area was beautiful and the food was amazing. I almost started crying because it was something I didn’t think I’d get to experience. Representation and acceptance.

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When Rony saw Coco on Sunday with his family, he told me that sitting in front of him was an older Hispanic lady watching the movie by herself. She cheered and cried and sang along. There are a lot of jokes in Spanish and nods to the little things that almost all Latin families do. Tiny little things that make a character dimensional. He said that he would catch her crying and laughing and completely enraptured by the film.

We went the following day on a Monday night so the crowd was thin (because, you know, it’s a Monday night), but I could hear everyone’s enjoyment. The characters and family felt real and whole and not like stupid stereotypes. There was no Cholo or Chola or drunk uncle or sassy aunt causing drama. Their family was hardworking and together and despite the main conflict of them not allowing musicians in the family, they all supported one another and took care of each other. The importance of family was emphasized throughout the movie.

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My great grandmother passed away last week. She held the family together and was strong, much like the women in the movie. My Grandma Romo, her daughter, is pretty similar to the abuelita in the film, but not as crazy strict. She’s strong and tough and fierce. I saw my family in these characters. I saw myself in Miguel. Different from the rest, but still loved. On a different path, but still having support.

The story takes you somewhere different than most. It’s about sacrifice and acceptance and dealing with the consequences of your actions. It doesn’t hold your hand through the cultural references, but also does a wonderful job of explaining certain things without seeming handfisted. The characters are multi-dimensional and complex. There are a few moments that are heartbreaking and some wonderful laughs.

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It was also refreshing to see side characters actually willing to help rather than showing a cynical, “you’re on your own” world. In one scene, Miguel is in a competition because the winner gets to play at De La Cruz’ party. Stuff happens and he doesn’t get to accept or win but the actual winners are more than willing to help him later because they loved his music. They easily could have done the whole, “No, you lost, go away” situation and then have him like steal a costume but I like the direction they took. You help one another.

And as an artist, this film is gorgeous. It’s saturated in blue and oranges and color because that’s what the Day of the Dead is. It’s traditional to wear a ton of colors instead of black because you’re not mourning your loved ones but celebrating. You want to be happy and joyous and remember all the wonderful things about them and the memories. They talk about death and some dark subjects, but it’s never perceived that way. Death is just a part of the circle of things. We live and we die and it’s nothing to be sad about. The only sad thing is being forgotten.

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They don’t dumb down our culture in this movie. The family loves each other even when they’re different and any disagreements are always showcased in a protective or loving way. The abuelitas in the film are strict, but loving. If you’ve ever been in a Latin household, you know that though the dad is looked up to, the families tend to be Matriarchal. My own families on both sides are run by amazing, strong women. I do wish it was explained a bit why they are as they are, but it’s a tiny tiny complaint.

The movie presents our culture in all it’s wonderful, gorgeous splendor and I’ve never been more appreciative of that. Coco is a marvel and a gift to Latin culture. The music is a love letter and the little details are icing on the cake. Please see this film. It’s a work of art and I could not stop crying at the end of it.

Also fun fact, the soundtrack has all the tracks in Spanish included on it. So you can bet your ass it’s playing on repeat in our house.

Rony and I are going to be working harder to embrace our cultures. A lot like Miguel, I ran away from it in search for my passions, but by choosing one or the other you’re always going to be missing something. You have to find the in between. I’m a Hispanic female artist from a family of strong women that’s full of love. It’s time I accepted and embraced that.

And you can bet that we’re going to be putting more love into our Day of the Dead alters next year and making sure our ancestors and loved ones are remembered properly.

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Thank you, Disney and everyone involved in Coco. I’ve never been more happy with a film.

-Sam <3

PS. I didn’t mind the Frozen short. Don’t murder me.

 

#FindLeon and What to Do When You’re Puppy Goes Missing

It’s been quiet on here for a reason.

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Saturday, August 26th at 8am our dogs got loose. I noticed within 10-15 minutes of it happening and raced into the backyard, calling for Rony as I did so. They dug a hole in the corner of the yard and pried off a couple of boards off the fence, escaping into the alley. Almond is a runner and has escaped a few times, giving us heart attacks as we chase her down and she plays keep away, but this was Leon’s first time being gone. He follows Almond wherever she goes and would have followed her out that hole.

Almond was found crossing one of the major, busy streets by Marisa and was brought home safe. We didn’t find Leon.

For 6 days/144 hours, he was missing.

We hardly slept at all. We ate whenever we had a chance to pause, scarfing down chips or snack bars, or whatever people would bring us and go back out. We’ve searched almost non-stop, from 7am in the morning to 1am at night. My bones and muscles ached from walking, my fingertips were raw and peeling from posting flyers, and any ground I had made on getting over being sick was shot to the wind and I felt awful. I couldn’t breathe from congestion and my eyes were swelling shut and I kept having migraines. We couldn’t stop though.

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Saturday was not only going to be my first Pride after coming out but it was also National Dog Day. It felt like being stabbed every time I saw people post pictures of their dogs while I had no clue where Leon was. Was he safe, hurt, taken, hiding, scared? We’ve checked the shelter every day and nothing. They have a binder of deceased dogs and it was nauseating to flip through, hoping we didn’t see him every day.

That first day, we walked 6 miles looking for him. Sunday we walked 10-11 miles and then Monday 3 miles. All together, we walked 32 miles looking for Leon. We visited every shelter and pet store and groomers, giving flyers. Asked people on the street. Checked every tip, no matter how crazy. I’ve made hundreds of lost pet posts online and taken out ads and have done everything. He had his tags and collar on when he went missing and was micro-chipped, but no one had found him or called or brought him in to a vet or shelter.

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On top of it, we also adopted 3 kittens that are about 4-5 weeks old. Mae Mae took a while, but she’s adopted them and is feeding them and watching over them. We think they belong to one of our strays that passed away last week. Our neighbor heard them crying in her backyard. They’re cute and distracting and kept me busy, which was good because I was so near falling apart.

We have literally posted over a thousand flyers. That’s not hyperbole either. We literally have printed and posted around 1300 flyers. We’ve put them everywhere. Every time we found a blank area, we put them all over. We asked businesses, put them in high populated areas, shopping centers, the university.

This is what hell feels like. Being in pain, exhausted, but not being able to stop or else the hopelessness crushes you because your loved one is out there and you don’t know if they’re hurt or scared or being taken care of by a good family.

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We got so many tips that ended up being different dogs or dead ends. Our most promising ones were a girl that said she saw him with a kid and a mom less than 10 blocks from us, in the direction he was seen running. She said she tried to see him and the mom cussed her out, saying she doesn’t care where he came from and that he was theirs now. The location wasn’t far from our house and we staked it out for 2 days, but when we finally saw the dog it wasn’t ours.

An older man called and thought he saw Leon by the park by his house. I raced over at lunch and he ran to the park to show me, but it was also the wrong dog. Two different ladies in our neighborhood said they saw him with a dog gang. We woke up early at 6am, and scouted the streets looking for them. We found them in 15 minutes. It was 3 Chihuahua looking dogs and a white/brown pit. They were sweet and ran up to the car and gave kisses. Not much of a gang, but also not Leon.

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At the same time, we had a lady say she thought she saw him by his house and was trying to track him down. I was texting her when I got a call at about 630. A guy said he may have Leon ten blocks from our house. I described Leon’s tail and figure and he said he was almost sure it was him. We turned around and drove there, looking for a corner house and a guy with a dog sitting on the porch.

When we found the house, we burst into tears because it was finally Leon. I ran out the car before it was even fully stopped and ran to him. He jumped and wagged his tail and licked my face while I sobbed my heart out. This whole week it hadn’t sunken in that he was gone, like at any time I’d wake up and he’d be home. I couldn’t see how we could do so much for everyone else. Events, charities, promo-ing, dog sitting, fostering, helping other people find their animals. While searching we helped like 3 people and took in the kittens. We needed luck on our side and I refused to let go that our dog was gone forever, but it was starting to feel so hopeless.

Having him in my arms was heaven. The guy had been walking his dog near the high school and had grabbed one of our flyers. He saw Leon and managed to grab him and called us, waiting on the porch until we showed up. Him and his partner had lost their dog a year ago and knew how it felt and were so happy to find him for us, they didn’t want the reward. We’re going to donate it to the Humane Society and aid or Hurricane Harvey.

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Leon was skinnier, but uninjured and happy and still had his collar on even. We have no clue what he had been doing for almost a week and had patrolled that area so many times that we don’t know how we didn’t find him.

I sat in the trunk area with him while Rony talked to the guys and just cried and hugged him and called everyone. Almond was excited when we got home and Leon drank all the water and ate 4 cups of food. They ran around and played and it was like he hadn’t left.

It took all morning to call and let everyone know and just relax and know he was okay. It still feels surreal but he’s home and I can’t thank enough people for helping us search for him. We literally painted the town in his flyers and we have him back.

It’s been an exhausting process but it paid off.

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So, if you are missing your dog, all I can do is write down some tips that we learned. No one can say we weren’t dedicated to finding him and he’s probably the most famous lost pup in town now but it got results:

Tips for Finding your Puppy

  1. Immediately search the entirety of your neighborhood as fast as you can after they go missing
  2. Find all the Lost and Found Facebook pages/group and post to them all daily
  3. Post on Pawboost
  4. Post on your neighborhood app (NextDoor is the one we have)
  5. Check the shelters every day, don’t just call. If you do it an hour or so before they close, most of their trucks should be in from picking up animals.
  6. After a few days, email or check the shelters of nearby towns. Dogs can travel a lot at night
  7. Put some of your dirty clothes or their toys outside so if they’re lost, they may try to find their way home. Don’t put food because you’ll just attract other dogs.
  8. Post flyers on all major intersections, busy areas, and stores that will let you
  9. Give flyers to every vets office and groomers/boarders that you can
  10. Put flyers on your car and put a big sign in your yard so that if someone finds them, they know where to return them
  11. Check with neighbors, anyone outside, or joggers in your area.
  12. Follow all tips, no matter how far they are from your home.
  13. As soon as you can, see if you can get your friends to do a search party
  14. If your dog has a microchip, register it as Lost and make sure to tell your vets office
  15. If someone has seen him in your neighborhood, try to walk from your house to the tip spot and see where they could have gone from there
  16. If you can afford it, do a Facebook and Instagram ad.
  17. Post on Craigslist
  18. Ask your mail carrier when you see them, police officers, or city services if you come across them. They drive around constantly!
  19. It’s weird, but don’t be afraid to ask homeless people and give them flyers. A lot of times they’re very happy to help (especially if there is a reward)
  20. Don’t give up hope.

And when you get them home, make sure your fence is secure! Nail any loose boards, pour concrete along the bottom, or if you can’t then chicken wire it down so they cant dig to get under it! You can bend it along the base and stake it down!

I can only hope this helps someone else looking for their baby. Our animals are our children and it felt like my heart had died while he was gone. We couldn’t go on with our lives until he was home and I’m so glad he is. I’m never letting him go.

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-Sam <3

 

Blog| I went Vegan for a Week

My sister and I like to give each other challenges to do. One, it’s a way for us to bond and do fun things and two, we like to brag when the other starts losing.

I challenged her to do the 365 Project and she challenged me to do a week of being vegan.

Guess what I’m doing now?

Goal: Eat vegan from July 24th to Ladies Night on July 29th and see what the effects are on my body and if I won’t die of hunger.


Day 1:

I was not prepared. At all. We got back from Ruidoso Sunday evening and I went straight to a dinner party then passed out. In the morning, I was tired and exhausted and went to grab something for breakfast only to find nothing I could eat.

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I drink my coffee with cream and sugar so I couldn’t have it and had to drink sweet tea instead. I was starving. Went home for lunch. Finally found some rice and a bag of steam-able veggies to eat. It was the saddest little meal I’ve had. After desperately searching the house some more, I realized the garden veggie Pringles chips we just bought were vegan.

I think I downed half the can.

After work I went to the grocery store and got some fruit, salad stuff, fake vegan meat, chips and salsa, and almond milk so I could eat cereal. I forgot pasta sauce since the sauce we had already was four cheese, to my dismay.

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I ate a salad for dinner, snacked on chips and salsa, ate a cup of Special K cereal with almond milk, and drank V8 fruit blend. I had a headache, was tired, cranky, and couldn’t seem to feel full. Day 1 was awful.


Day 2:

I was exhausted! Seriously, I slept through my alarm then had to run and throw on clothes and eat some more Special K for breakfast. My stomach felt like a black void and I had the worst headache. It’s the kind that feels like your head is split open and makes you nauseous.

For lunch I went crazy because I was starving. Tomato soup, slices of bread, chips and salsa, and the veggie Pringle chips. I gorged myself because I was so hungry and just wanted everything in sight to get into my stomach.

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After work, I was still starving. I snacked on baby tomatoes and homemade pickles. Ate another cup of cereal. I was also exhausted and the headaches were persisting. I spent a good amount of time just laying on the couch with my phone, trying not to take a whole bottle of pain medicine.

For dinner, I wanted to try something beyond rice and veggies. I had bought some meatless vegan chicken strips and googled how to make your own teriyaki sauce. With some modifications (because I didn’t have everything and I was too lazy to go to the store), I made the sauce with some steamed stir-fry veggies and added the chicken. All of it went on top of some white rice and boom, dinner.

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Surprisingly, it was very delicious. The chicken didn’t taste just like chicken, but close enough and the texture was kinda similar. But the sauce was good and I even ate the vegetables I usually hate.

I passed out early for bed and dreamed of cakes and cream cheese and everything I couldn’t eat.


Day 3:

I was less tired in the morning but did wake up starving again. I realized the food I was eating just wasn’t lasting that long. I made the effort to get up, fix my hair, eat a big bowl of cereal, and take some fruit to work. Since I’ve had to forgo coffee and I forgot to make more sweet tea, I drank water at work.

The headaches were still ongoing but I looked it up and it’s apparently my body detoxing from dairy and meat. I chewed some gummy vitamins for good measure and drank more water.

I started to dislike Almond milk less, though I wouldn’t drink it straight. It was a weird tan color I just couldn’t get passed. In cereal it wasn’t bad, I’ll give it that.

Lunch was tomato soup again since we ate all the leftovers and I didn’t feel like salad. After lunch I was fading fast. I could not. stop. yawning. I drank even more water and finished off my Pringles to keep myself awake.

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Marisa was supposed to make a vegan dinner, but ended up losing her debit card (RIP debit card) so I settled for a spinach and tomato salad with Italian dressing. I’m starting to notice that certain flavors are starting to be overpowering. Certain things are too sweet, the Italian dressing was overpowering and too much. It’s strange.


Day 4:

Today was the first day that I didn’t get awful headaches and didn’t feel like I needed a nap every other hour. I ran out of cereal but found out the “butter” we had was actually vegetable oil spread and I could eat it. So I made toast with jam.

I’m drinking more water and more fruit. A lot of bananas and peaches from the store, snacking on tomatoes. Vegetables I hated and would pick out of my food I’m just shoving into my mouth because I’m hungry and don’t wanna hassle myself with picking them out.

Lunch was a dull affair of leftover tomato soup with bread and veggies. Most of my lunch break was spent cleaning up the dogs’ kennels since Almond had an accident due to an upset tummy.

I snacked on salsa and chips, finished my tomatoes, cried over my forbidden donuts and Lunchables.

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For dinner I decided to cook again. There was some gnocchi in the cabinets and we had another bag of meatless chicken. I cooked them up, threw some steam-able veggies into the microwave and then mixed it all together and made vegetable and chicken gnocchi with plain pasta sauce. It was pretty good and very filling! I actually liked it a lot and say of all the vegan stuff I bought, I liked the meatless chicken the most.


Day 5:

No headaches! It was a miracle! I ate toast again for breakfast and had some tea and found I was less tired for once. My sleep schedule was still all crazy and I ended up staying up too late coloring my coloring book, but I wasn’t dead on my feet so that was good.

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I ate leftover gnocchi for lunch and decided to cook meatless ground beef tacos for dinner. Honestly, it didn’t taste that much different from regular meat. I seasoned it like normal and topped it with tomatoes and spinach instead of lettuce and put a little salsa on it. Rony and I both ate them all and agreed that the meatless beef was pretty A+. 10/10 would buy again. I think next time I’ll try and incorporate it into other dishes and see how it holds up.


Day 6:

Saturday was the last day of the challenge. I had to get all the way through Ladies Night and then I could stuff myself with pizza and donuts and anything I wanted.

We were crazy busy so I ate cereal for breakfast in between running around. Around 2, it finally settled down enough that we decided to go out and eat. I wanted to try and see how easy or hard it is to order vegan food at a restaurant so we went to one of our favorite Thai restaurants. All I could think was that I was pretty sure most of the noodles are made with egg and I’d have to suck it up and get a fully vegetable plate and this was going to suck.

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I got lucky. My favorite dish, Lard Na, was made with rice noodles and they had a tofu option so it was all vegan. I’ve never had tofu but Rony recently got won over by it so I figured I would try it to.

During the whole week, I was surprised by how less picky I was getting. Usually I pick out cabbage and any weird vegetables I don’t like. Sometimes I was too hungry to care and shoved everything into my mouth, everything tasting like pure gold in my mouth from starvation. I was less anxious about the tofu at that point. And it was actually not bad. The gravy had soaked in and it didn’t really taste like anything and the texture reminded me of a less chewy version of tripe in menudo which I love. I was pleasantly surprised.

Rony got tofu as well but it was fried. I tried his and it tasted like weird egg but I’d eat it. It wasn’t bad. I ate my whole plate and felt full and happy. I was proud. It was my last vegan meal and I had expected the worst, but the whole week was better than I thought.

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Ladies Night came and I survived. I did ALMOST ate a cookie on accident though. Tabby had picked all the M&M’s off hers and I didn’t want it to go to waste and had put it in my mouth right as I realized it wasn’t vegan. So I spit it out and almost cried. I would have been so mad if I ruined my whole week in the last hour.

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We all went to my house and ordered pizza and played games and drank to celebrate Ladies Night and me ending my veganism. The taste of cheese pizza had never tasted so good. I ate chips and bread sticks and dip and hung out with my friends. I even drank the cold brew coffee that had been sitting in the fridge.

We laughed and listened to music and stayed up until almost 3am. It was a good end.


Final thoughts:

I will tell you, I threw a fit when my sister gave me the challenge. I couldn’t survive without dairy. It was gonna be awful. I was gonna die. This was too much work. Even Rony was like “hell no” and didn’t want to do it.

But I genuinely surprised. Yes, the first few days were hard as I figured out what I could or could not eat, figured out my intake, and suffered through dairy detox. I was miserable and tired and grumpy and just wanted to shove donuts into my face. After I got groceries, tried to cook and got things I could eat then it actually wasn’t bad.

I noticed I started to crave dairy and cheese less, I ate less sugar and caffeine, and cooked a lot more. I started looking at labels and taking vitamins and eating less processed food. The few times I seriously craved foods was in places like the mall and when everyone but me had junk food.

Were there downsides? Yes. I’m going to be honest. I had gas all damn week. It was crazy. Everything gave me gas and I hated it. I was also hungry all the time, ranging from “maybe I should snack” to “holy shit I’m going to eat paper if I do not get food.” I would have to eat very filling lunches to last me from breakfast until after work when I would eat fruit or something small to relieve the hunger pains before dinner.

I was tired, fast food was almost completely out of the question, and the groceries were slightly more expensive for less items. Lubbock is a small town and does not have that many vegan/vegetarian options and I hated spending so much on groceries.

But at the end of the week, I was super proud and it’s made me think a lot about my diet currently. I gave up red meat, but all of the meatless options were just as good as actual meat. So now I think I may be giving up poultry eventually and just eat fish. When we go to Seattle, we’ll be able to get fresh, local fish and that way I don’t have to feel guilty about the meat/poultry industry.

It’s weird to be making all these dietary changes but I have to admit that I did feel good at the end. I didn’t change weight, but my body felt healthier and I had to consume so much food that was plant based that I wouldn’t really have to worry about overeating. If I had worked out this week, I’m sure I would have saw some changes.

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So how have things changed almost a week later?

Monday I drank two sips of coffee and felt like my heart was going to explode from caffeine. I hate some chips and a cookie and felt sick all day. Cheese is almost unappetizing to me and I can’t go back to regular dairy milk. So far turkey meat doesn’t make me queasy but I essentially can’t go back to a regular diet without feeling nauseous and worse than I did at the beginning of the vegan challenge.

I won’t keep being a vegan, but unless I want to feel like crap for a whole week, I can’t go back to eating how I did. So I’ve cut out coffee and soda and a lot of sweets and dairy. If I do eat junk food, I can only eat a tiny bit or else I feel awful.

But I’m kinda okay with it. Yes, I would like to go back to eating whatever I wanted but in the end, I understand that it’s my body telling me it does not like it. So I’ll be like a weird lenient vegetarian.

In a month or so, I’ll let you know how it goes :)

-Sam <3

Art Process| Villains “Big Chap” Piece

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Initial layout

I’ve been wanting to do a process post about one of my art pieces and actually remembered to take pictures to do it this time!

Usually if it’s a small piece, I’ll try and do a speed video of it but this is less work and let’s me get into my process more.

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Background and highlights laid out

The Xenomorph is a very cool mix of organic and mechanical parts. It’s smooth and has a lot of rounded parts, but the pieces that make it up are very machine like. You have tubing and this oil slick look all over. I actually like that because that means you can piece it together part by part. So I started by laying out the mouth and then doing layer after layer of green and black to made the shading.

This painting was almost entirely free-handed. I didn’t do a sketch before hand and only looked at a few reference, some from the film and some close ups of toys, for shading and to see how the head pieced together.

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Color blending

 

I would see what connected to the mouth then what connected to the head and this pipe and that pipe. And then once the layout was done I started laying down the lime green everywhere as the highlights. Until the very end, I only used two colors. The whites so far are just exposed canvas or light washes.

A lot of the texture and grungy look is layered paint. I would leave it messy and while the paint was wet I would go back with darker shades to clean it up.

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Head placement adjusted

You can actually see from the past few pictures that I completely changed the shoulder and perspective on the head. Initially I had it going off canvas but it didn’t read well. Then I wanted more of a leaned over shoulder rather than straight up profile so I brought that shoulder up more and put it more in focus.

When the paint is really thick and wet, it’s easy to make these changes. The best time though is when acrylic is half dry because then it’s thick enough to move around but not blend.

 

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Black shading clean up

I rounded the back end of the head for perspective and finally started detailing the mouth. With a dry brush and only a little bit of black, I did strokes to give all the side piping on it’s head ridges and dimension.

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Clean up, Shadow work, and White highlights

Finally I added the darkest blacks, cleaned up the background, added more dramatic shadows and put a touch of white on the highlights to try and get that glossy look.

I gloss varnished it and it’s all done!

In total, I used 3 colors: black, lime green, and white. It took roughly 6 hours total over about 3 days. It’s a 18×24 canvas.

“Big Chap” (a reference to the Xenomorph in the very first Alien) was a really fun piece to work on mostly because I gave myself the freedom to just throw paint on the canvas and not worry about the outcome too much. Yes, I need it to at least resemble the creature but the Xenomorph is a creepy monster that can be interpreted in a lot of different ways. I was inspired by it’s slimy, glossy frame and wanted to use the lime green and black colors from the poster and I loved the outcome.

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Finished

If you’re in Lubbock, you can see “Big Chap” currently on display at Star Books & Comics (916 16th Street) during business hours or this Friday 6 PM- 9 PM at the Villains Artist Collective Gallery!

It and pieces from about 20 local artists will be on display and available for purchase! Go check it out before the event is over at the end of the month!

Let me know if you like this process blog!

-Sam <3