Blog| Brown Girl

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I have brown skin.

Specifically I’m Hispanic. When I was born, I was dark, hairy, and chubby with dark brown eyes and brown-black hair versus my sister who was light skinned and light haired and who looked almost Asian.

I’ve always been dark. If I’m in the sun for longer than half an hour, I turn 10 shades darker. I tan rather than sun burn and I have jokingly referred to myself as the color of a burnt cookie.

I do not know Spanish and growing up, my family didn’t have a lot of cultural ties. My parents didn’t cook a lot of Mexican food, we didn’t go to church that often, never celebrated Cindo de Mayo or Dia de los Muertos and we only went to Mexico once for like a day and came back.

My grandmothers were the ones that cooked a lot of Mexican food and made fresh tortillas and made me menudo. My parents had us young so my grandma on my dad’s side essentially raised my parents and us and my aunt and uncle all at once on her own. She named me Samantha and taught my parents how to take care of us while working full time and helping my aunt with her kids and my teenage uncle.

All in all, I didn’t realize that being brown was any different than being white when I was young. Until I started consuming media.

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I never really had representation in the media growing up. It was hard enough to find women role models much less Latina role models so I grew up with a skewed beauty standard.

I remember seeing all these beautiful women and thinking I wasn’t pretty because I was too dark. Being into the “goth” aesthetic didn’t help that any. Everyone was pale white with sharp black hair and blue eyes. I was a preteen the first time I heard about bleaching cream and wondered if there was a home brew version or if I could sneakily buy some without my mom knowing.

Growing up, I avoided the sun to be pale. When I learned makeup, the first shades I got were too light. I didn’t like the way bright colors looked on me because I was darker than they were and it looked weird to me.

Being curvy and top heavy did not help at all to fit the thin, willowy, pale ideal that had formed in my head.

I was about 20 when I finally gave up and just accepted that this was how I looked, but it’s still stuck in my head. I don’t like the sun and I still don’t wear bright colors. I went “blonde” for a year and hated that the coppery color was the same shade as my skin.

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I think about this often, this warped idea of beauty I’ve developed. It’s not my fault and I know it. Years of being shown skinny, pale skinned women with little to no representation have cemented the idea in my head. But instead of discarding it all, I’ve used it to show the problem.

I’ve been arguing and talking about representation in comics and the media for years now and I think it’s because of this brown shame I have. Seeing superheroes like Miss America Chavez, Ghost Rider Robbie Reyes, and characters like Sombra from Overwatch shouldn’t be so rare that it gets made to be a big deal. We should have more than a handful of fictional characters that we claw to our chests because it’s all we have.

If I had had that representation when I was younger, things could have been different. I wouldn’t have had to know what bleaching cream is and worry that I couldn’t dress up as my favorite character because I wouldn’t look right.

But it’s still a problem. I remember hearing Tim Burton’s lame excuse for why he only really casts white people and feeling hurt because my skin color didn’t match his visual aesthetics enough. Then there was Marvel’s excuse that the reason their sales had dropped was because they had too much diversity and female lead titles. Like having a brown character is so distracting to the status quo.

We have work to do. I don’t want a little girl growing up and thinking she doesn’t matter because she doesn’t see herself in the faces on TV or in the comics she reads. This kind of stuff does have lasting effects and even now, I’m fighting to not be ashamed of who I am.

I’m brown. Deal with it.

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-Sam <3

Blog| One Month of Natural Hair

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I’ve talked before about how my hair is naturally curly. My mom has really tight curls and my sister, at most, has slight waves. I landed more on my mom’s side with half-wavy curls and coils. I’ve never been able to figure out how to deal with them and of course, coloring and bleaching my hair doesn’t help.

But I want to try. I figured that straightening and hot ironing my hair every day isn’t exactly the best for it and if I want to move to Seattle I’m going to have to learn to deal with it. There will be no escape from moisture there.

So I’m going to keep my hair naturally curly for a whole month.

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Right now it’s in the extreme frizz phase and I hate it. It doesn’t look good and I can’t shower in the evening like I normally do or else I’ll look like medusa in the morning. My morning routine takes 30 minutes in the morning and I like it that way. Now it’s going to take longer.

I think that’s a big reason why I straighten it. My curly hair just never looked tidy and put together. I always looked like I was crazy. I think there are ways I can make it look better but I’m going to need to get some things. Like mousse and probably a hair diffuser. Who knows.

No, seriously, who knows? I need help.

I’ll keep everyone updated through my hair journey and hopefully at the end of the month, I’ll have learned to love my curls.  Hopefully.

Do you have curly hair? How do you manage it? Let me know below!

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Blog| June Goals

 

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I’m just going to admit it right here. I failed on like most of my goals. And I would say that it’s because I got busy but really I got busy and lazy at the same time. No excuses. I straight up dropped the ball.

So a goal for my goals this month is to actually stick to them!

Let’s recap last month’s goals and see where I bombed hard.

May Goals

Personal:

  • Cut junk food down to only twice a week Yeah, this didn’t work. I think we actually ate out more this month than previous months because of how busy we got. But somehow I lost two pounds from my last doctor’s visit??? That like never happens but maybe it’s the medication.
  • Clean the house for at least 30 minutes a day and put away at least 20 things The garage sale and con prepping destroyed the house. It is not fit for human and animal habitation. Please send help and flame throwers.
  • Read 2-3 comics/or a few chapters in a book every weekend at least I finished two books! But they were audio books… I haven’t touched my comics.
  • Work out once a week (home or gym) lol no
  • Get up earlier and leave the house by 7:50 am   I’m going to give myself this one because I am getting up earlier and I’m leaving the house by 7:53-55. Which is a lot better than leaving at 8 am when I’m supposed to get there at 8 am.

Bonus: Take puppies somewhere once a week nope. Almond got sick and hurt and we got too busy dog sitting to take them anywhere. But a puppy day is in order before Leon gets fixed and then he’ll be stuck in solitaire.

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Work:

  • One sketchbook painting a week I did do this a couple of weeks but got too busy con prepping to keep up.
  • Blog once a week at least Not only did I do this, but I’ve been blogging at least 3-4 times a week! Yay for me!
  • Re-Open the Etsy Shop by the end of the month I cut it real close but I’m happy to announce that the Etsy Shop is open again as of last night and I’ve listed most of my new art and prints and sketchbooks!
  • Finish printed Inktober Sketchbook Boom. Got that done, had it available at the convention, and now you can get it online here
  • Upload two videos this month I really tried, but I got distracted and editing the house tour is a pain in the ass.
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Post-con. I fell asleep in my Batwoman cosplay while hugging my new Pikachu

So 4/10 of the goals were done. Not the best but not the worst. Most of the ones I completed were for work so that’s something, but it pretty much proves that I need to get better focusing on myself and not only the business.

Luckily things will be slower this month. The Wonder Woman gallery is tomorrow, there’s only a few events but nothing big, and I have to work on only one new piece for the July gallery. That leaves me wiggle room to paint whatever I want and manage the shop and work on my personal goals.

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June Goals

Personal:

  • Rearrange bedroom
  • Clean a bit of the house every day
  • Drink at least a bottle of water every day
  • Yoga/workout once a week
  • Get Leon fixed

Work:

  • A pic a day on Instagram
  • Sketch or paint a non-gallery piece once a week
  • Restock jewelry
  • Order 6×9 & 8×10 prints
  • Scan and make print copies of all paintings

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I don’t think any of the goals for June are too far reaching. Like I said, this month is far less busy and I do want to get everything back in order. The house is a wreck and we’re getting a new mattress soon and Leon is getting a bigger kennel so I want to make sure the bedroom will fit everything (Almond’s kennel is huge and takes up most of the room.

The business is getting back into shape but still needs some cleaning up. I want to make sure everything is in stock that way I’m not scrambling to fill orders and I want to get back into the rhythm of making and posting art regularly. If anything, the hardest goals may be the drinking water and working out ones. I’m AWFUL at remembering to drink water during the day.

June should be a good month. I’m excited to kick myself back into gear and tackle new projects!

What goals do you have for June?

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-Sam <3

Blog| 2017 Reading Challenge

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I love books. I wanted to be a writer so it’s a given that I’m an avid reader. When I was little, before I had a lot of friends, I’d read constantly to escape into other worlds and forget how lonely ours could be. Stories haven’t stopped being my escape, but the way I consume them have.

Time is precious now. I am always busy which makes sitting down and reading hard. So I mostly listen to audio books at work during the day and will read a bit at night or on the weekends. I give a lot of money to Audible.

Every year I try to make myself a Reading Challenge. I usually start it at 12 books a year and then will extend it once I reach the goal. I’ve already hit 12 books for this year so I thought I’d break down my reading list!


2017 Reading Challenge: First 12

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1. Heartless by Marissa Meyer

I am a huge fan of The Lunar Chronicles so when I found out she was doing an Alice in Wonderland inspired book I pretty much instantly pre-ordered. I’m a sucker for retellings and fairy tale based books. This one kept me hooked and took me on a whirlwind of a ride. Sometimes I was frustrated with the main character but other times I was completely entranced by the world. The characters are completely engrossing and I was in love with Jest. It did not disappoint, even when it broke my heart sometimes. It was a great book to start the year on.

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2. Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews

Besides fairy tales, I love Urban Fantasy. It’s the genre I love writing. This is the latest in the Kate Daniels series and though I really liked the story, it felt like the series hit the climax a few books back before even getting to fighting the big boss. The conflicts are still interesting and I love Kate and Curran, but it doesn’t feel as tense as it previously did.

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3. Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige

I have mixed feelings about this book. In one aspect, I liked the world and lore behind everything. But it all felt very messy, hopping from region to region and feeling more like world building than a build towards the climax. The main characters love for her childhood best friend annoyed me because at no point was I told why she loved him enough to go through everything in the book for him. And there’s like a love square thing going on. I may read the sequel because I did like the magic and world.

 

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4. The Big Life by Ann Shoket

I like reading memoirs and motivational books. It’s a good boost for me to get off my ass and get work done. The Big Life is the book that told me about the Badass Babes Dinners and the struggles other ambitious women go through and how to balance it all. Ann Shoket goes through different topics that she’s discussed at these dinners and tells you about the experience of the women that attend to hopefully help you pursue your own side hustle. It was more self-help than I usually go for, but did the job of motivating me to do more.

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5. Sex Object by Jessica Valenti

I went on a memoir trend and found this book. It’s a darker, more depressing memoir than the others but I related with a lot of the experiences Jessica Valenti talks about and it was engrossing hearing her talk about her struggles. If you didn’t know, Jessica Valenti is a feminist blogger and writer and founded Feministing. She talks about dealing with awful comments and her sexual experiences and a lot of hard moments, but it’s worth the read.

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6. You’ll Grow Out Of It by Jessi Klein

A much lighter memoir, You’ll Grow Out of It is essentially the struggle of trying to find yourself and navigate being a woman without having all the instructions. I related to it a lot. My teenage years were spent living with my dad who knew nothing about dressing a teenage girl or teaching her about makeup. There were a lot of bad style choices. This book is hilarious and takes me back to those awkward confusing moments in my life and definitely a good read!

 

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7. You’re Better than me by Bonnie McFarlane

Bonnie McFarlane is a comedian and talks a lot about her pursuit of writing and touring and being on Last Comic Standing while also sprinkling in stories about the people she’s met. She’s not always the good party in the stories, but she tells them well and there are more than a few laughs.

 

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8. A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Real talk, I’ve been waiting for this book for like a year. I LOVE the Court of Thorns and Roses series. Like I’ve listened and read them more than a dozen times, literally. When I can’t think of what to listen to, I put on Court of Mist and Fury on. This is the last book in the trilogy and I was dyyyyying to find out what happened. If you listen on audiobook, a heads up though. The narrator changed. Yeah, I know, what the hell. If you look at the reviews, a LOT of people are pissed but apparently the previous narrator didn’t want to do the 3rd. BUT if you give the new one a chance, she actually ends up sounding really similar. The voices are almost the same and she does a really good job. You just have to give her a chance.

Some parts of the book were a little slow and of all three, it’s the most dispair-filled and emotionally draining. The big battle constantly is tugging your heart and emotions around and it feels chaotic. But there are so many good moments and I love the characters so much. Not everything gets tied up nicely, but apparently there are going to be 3 more books following a different character. In the end, I was happy but still craving more from the world. I wasn’t disappointed and it’s definitely my favorite series.

 

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9. Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

If you love the movie The Labyrinth, this book is for you. Like, really, the author talks heavily about how David Bowie and that movie inspired the book. It features a Goblin King and Labyrinth and all that good stuff, but the world she builds is much more detailed and interesting. There’s so much lore and when you think the story is going one way, it goes another. There’s very much a Hades/Persephone vibe going on mixed in with heavy influences of music and folklore. Sometimes dark, sometimes playful, it kept me interested even when the story flow felt a little off. I’m definitely going to pick up the sequel!

 

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10. Depravity by M.J. Haag

So the last set of books are actually all in a series, but I kinda feel they should have been put altogether into one book. They’re pretty short and the story is almost like it was chopped into three parts. The series is like an adult version of Beauty and the Beast with more sex and for some reason, a lot of the men are pretty brutal and dark. It doesn’t shy away from the problems a small, poor family in a small, poor village face and Benella’s sisters will drive you nuts with irritation. But it’s an interesting world and this one is a good set up for what’s to come.

 

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11. Deceit by M.J. Haag

Book 2 in the series takes a weird turn. The “rose” is actually a witch who cursed the beast and the spell is weird. The beast has to spend the whole night “pleasing” the witch to break the curse. She’s old and it’s been 50 years. Yeah, that’s the premise. It turns weirdly sexual (like the curse is heavily based on sex) and the Beast is an ass, but I applaud Benella on taking on everything in stride. In spite of all that weird stuff, I still really like the world and a lot of the characters. Benella is interesting and the world is intriguing. But yeah, there’s some sexual assault in this book and in general, awful people.

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12. Devastation by M.J. Haag

And then there’s book 3. I don’t know what happened, but book 3 took a weird turn and ended up feeling extremely long and drawn out and I wasn’t even sure what the problem was besides “emotions are fickle”. The beast is still an ass but getting better and there’s a lot of angst. Her sisters are the woooooooorst, but there’s a good supporting cast and more character development. A lot of it could have been cut out and there’s not as much sex stuff, but the end isn’t bad. It’s just not as interesting as what was presented in book 2. Not a bad series, but it’s got a lot of weird moments and in the search for something fresh in a fairy tale retelling, they went for a weird sex adult version.


 

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There’s my first 12 books of the year. I moved the goal to 24 so whenever I finish the next 12, I’ll do another reading list! I’ve already got a couple under my belt. Let me know if you liked this type of post! My Goodreads Currently Reading is at the bottom of the Home page if you want to follow along!.

What books are you reading?

-Sam <3

Blog| 27 Before 27

As much as I love my birthday, I do not like getting older.

I was a kid who had big, lofty goals which then morphed into an adult with serious perfectionist issues. By 13, I was going to be a writer, cook, and full time artist. I am none of those things. But things are getting better and though some of those goals I’m still aiming for (the writer and artist part, not the cooking part), I’m a bit more reasonable and understand there are small stepping stones.

Next year I will be turning 27 years old. I will be 3 years away from 30. We will be moving to Seattle, across the country, on our own and I don’t know if I will be ready. It feels like I’m going to be an actual adult and it’s strange. Leaving everything behind, I want to get done as much as possible here because who knows how life will be once I move.

I read Write Like a Girl‘s 27 before 27 Birthday Bucket List and thought it was such a neat idea! I’m a few month’s behind, but I’m excited to get started!

Here are 27 things I want to do before I turn 27!

  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 naps
  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 cosplays
  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 nails
  24. Go roller skating again
  25. Start meditating
  26. Finish a short story and submit for publishing
  27. Learn to go running

My birthday is next January and being a bit behind, I’m giving myself some leeway. Some of these things have been on my list for a while and some I think would just be neat to try. But I’m willing to try new things and I want to make the time I have left here in my home town worth while.

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Do you have a birthday bucket list? Let me know!

-Sam <3

Blog| May Goals

I’ll start by saying that April sucked.

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It seems like every time I get my act together and start actually being productive and healthy, something throws a wrench in my plans. That happened early in April and even though it’s been almost a month since I got mugged, dealing with the aftermath has taken a while.

In February, I started making myself a small goals list for each month to feel productive. I was in an art funk, still trying to come back from the heavy damage and exhaustion event after event caused at the end of 2016, and needed to get things in order. The goals helped. I started small, things I knew were easy but good for me. I didn’t always meet all five every month, but I tried and that was okay.

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April Goals

  • Deep clean the office and declutter the house  I actually did get this one done and ended up selling quite a bit of the paintings laying around and re-organized. We redid the entryway, dining room, and I threw out a lot of broken furniture in the living room that had seen too much wear and tear.
  • Meal prep Sundays Yeah, this one kinda dropped off. I didn’t have any willingness to even eat, much less cook for three hours for a whole week
  • 1 Painting  I finally, FINALLY, finished a commission I’ve had on my To-Do list for moooonths and boy did turning that in feel good
  • Set up the Bedroom For some reason, even though we’ve lived in our house an entire year and the rest of the house is decorated, we haven’t done the bedroom. The walls are bare except one tiny wall with our family photos and my Sandman collection. I still haven’t set it up
  • Go to the Gym 2x a Week Life happened with this one and when you can’t leave the house without having panic attacks, you definitely can’t pull yourself together to go to the gym by yourself at night

2 out of 5 isn’t wonderful, but I had a hard month. I’ll give myself some slack. I think the best thing was getting that painting done and de-cluttering. I get anxiety when there’s a mess and that painting had been on my mind, stressing me out or months.

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For May, I decided to make two separate set of goals. One personal and one for work. I think this way I can feel productive and feel like I’m bettering myself.

May Goals

Personal:

  • Cut junk food down to only twice a week
  • Clean the house for at least 30 minutes a day and put away at least 20 things
  • Read 2-3 comics/or a few chapters in a book every weekend at least
  • Work out once a week (home or gym)
  • Get up earlier and leave the house by 7:50 am

Bonus: Take puppies somewhere once a week

Work:

  • One sketchbook painting a week
  • Blog once a week at least
  • Re-Open the Etsy Shop by the end of the month
  • Finish printed Inktober Sketchbook
  • Upload two videos this month

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None of my goals are huge, but they are things that have been on my list. Since early April, I’ve dropped the ball on my health and I want to refocus on that. Eating healthier, working out again, and relaxing are all good for me and my mental health. I also need to get better in the morning. I tend to go to bed at midnight, sleep in way too long and am rushing out the door not to be late every day. It’s hard tending to the animals and forcing myself to get out of my warm bed each morning, but sometimes you have to adult.

I’ve let my business slack a bit. I would blame it on the holiday season but I know better. With Lubbock-con at the end of the month and Ladies Night having just passed, this is a good time for me to get my brand out there and draw in new readers and customers. It’ll be the only convention I do this year so I need to be on my A game.

The Etsy shop has been closed for a few months while I redo everything and I’ll be listing the discontinued product as well as my sketchbook and some new prints and originals. I think the move away from mainly jewelry will be good. I liked making them but replicating the necklaces over and over isn’t as fun as I originally thought.

That said, I have a lot of things in the pipe shoot planned blog-wise from photo series, a breakdown of the Cosplays I’m going to do for Lubbock-Con, to what I’m reading and watching.

What would you like to see and what are your goals for the month?

Here’s to May and hoping for a better, fresh start!

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-Sam <3

New Website! New Directions!

In case you haven’t noticed, the website got a new look!

I’d been meaning to redo the site for the longest time and finally sat down and worked on it all day. It’s been a while since it first launched and my limited knowledge showed, but I think now it’s fresh and reflects my current tastes a lot more.

Growth! It’s a thing!

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Photo by my sister, Amanda Raylee Photography

The business has been going through a lot of growth lately as I move everything more towards what I want it to be now that I’ve got experience. So what does that mean?

  • I will be phasing out certain jewelry and product. 
  • Switching from 11×17 prints to 8×10
  • Not as many conventions
  • More galleries
  • More sketchbook art
  • Splitting the blog into two categories: News and personal blogs. 

I loved making jewelry but the effort to make everything was exhausting and I was starting to feel like I had too much product all over the place. So I’m cutting it down to just the ones that do well or that I really like (If there’s a certain piece you like, let me know!)

It’s more of a cost thing with the prints. 11×17 prints are expensive to buy unless you buy a bunch in bulk and I have too many designs to do that. It’s cheaper and easier for me to do 8×10 which means more will be available and I can actually sell them online!

With conventions, I happened to start at a weird time. Suddenly everyone was getting flooded with conventions so I had a lot of options but now it’s too saturated and I’m realizing that I’m not getting the return I want to for the stress that I’m experiencing. I love them, but I think I like attending them more. So I’m sticking to only a few I know I can do well at and isn’t out of the way for me.

Galleries were always my main goal and with the art scene growing in town, I got very lucky. I get to do exhibits and galleries with Lubbock-Con and now I’m organizing Star Comics galleries. I even have a few other group exhibits I am participating in outside of that. That’s also what pushed me away from conventions. I have to be focusing on all the galleries I’m in!

Sketchbook art is kinda a given. I need to practice more and I like experimenting at a smaller size than I’m use to. The more I do it, the better I’m getting.

And last, the blog. I stopped doing as many Vlogs on Youtube because of the time it took to edit, but I still want to share my personal life and experiences and thoughts. I also left Tumblr because I got tired of the format and the fight for Likes and Reblogs. So since this is my website and in part, what I’m selling is myself, I decided to host my own blog here. Posts that are just news and events and updates of that sort will be on the News page and personal posts will be on the Blog page.

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We’re planning on moving to Seattle next year so I wanted to log our time prepping for that, some of my personal struggles and thoughts, rants, and things I love, but didn’t want to bog down the actual business news so this works best!

Lots of changes but I think this will be good. I need a routine and this helps my art and business further.

Thanks again everyone for sticking around and supporting me!

-Sam <3