Here are some things I've been appreciating now that I'm done traveling for the year: I get to hear the familiar harmonizing whistle of my teakettle every morning. I'm learning where the squirrels bury their chestnuts for winter. I run into people I know on the street. One of the owners at the shipping center around the corner from my house comps a padded envelope I’m trying to buy, and when I protest he says “You’re a regular!” It brings unexpected tears to my eyes.
I walk around the city with the x-ray vision of a ten-year resident. There’s the coffee shop where I drew my first comic. This is the fountain where we busked after an all-night dance event. Remember how intimidating you found this bar as a freshman in college? How can it be happening so fast? The longer I’m here the more I see the fabric of the city revealing itself to me, even as I warp its threads to match my own patchwork of experience.
Seeing the narrative of work for what it is rather than what we imagine it to be is the true difference between expert and novice. According to the novice, experts work beyond the boundary of confusing work, where all the work makes sense to those that know enough about it. The expert, however, knows that they will continually lose sight of the work as it evolves, and they have the skills and attitudes that let them move back and forth across that boundary of understanding.
- The above paragraph comes from The Theory of Conceptual Labor by Ním Wunnan. I met Ním at XOXO this year, where we chatted briefly about painting and Scotland, exchanged business cards, and then lost each other in the throng. I found the card while combing through drifts of paper in my room and immediately got lost in this incredible essay. It feels like the document I would’ve written had I gone to grad school and kept building on the work I did for my undergrad thesis. I love discovering things like this—products of kindred minds. If you engage in any kind of practice, or struggle to define the nature of your job, take some time to read it. (And if you want to check out the comic portion of my thesis, you can download it for free here. I'm still toying with the idea of turning the written part into a series of blog posts someday.)
- Speaking of XOXO, Demi Adejuyigbe’s talk was my favorite of this year’s bunch—a disarming blend of vulnerability, skill, and humor. I adored it. It’s now up on the Festival's YouTube channel, along with excellent offerings from Natalie Wynn, Jonny Sun, and others.
- I devoured The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley in a single sitting and immediately wanted to start it over again. An incandescent reimagining of Beowolf that explores monstrosity, femininity, queerness, and heredity. Paired extremely well with Madeline Miller’s Circe, which I read the following week with similar intensity.
- For film enthusiasts and lovers of the absurd: And Introducing: A Journey to the End of the Cast List, in which writer and designer Jez Burrows catalogues over 2,500 bizarre bit parts from the history of film. (Only a couple days left to snag this one, so move quick if you want it.)
- I chatted with Joe Streckert on the Weird History Podcast about sailors' tattoos, internet fame, and Cutthroat Island, of course.
In a 2011 TEDx talk, Call described how she must convince people “intentionally and repeatedly” to pay for what she calls art’s spiritual value. In a landscape in which audiences expect to consume media for free, she explains, “The current market value of my product is zero dollars…I’m basically on an educational mission in order to get paid.”
- Indie musician Marian Call breaks down the chimera of creative independence. I stumbled across this interview while paging through a copy of The Magazine, my pal Glenn’s old publication, when I stopped to visit him earlier this year. I didn’t know Marian or Glenn when this issue came out in 2014, but Glenn interviewed me for his podcast just a couple months later and now we're all pals. It's funny how these rivers carry us inexorably toward each other. It confirms a feeling I’ve been having more and more lately that it’s only a matter of time before we all befriend everyone we’ve ever admired.
Until then I remain,
P.S. With the holidays approaching, I'm obligated to mention that there are, at this very moment
, many purchasable delights available in my shop. You can browse the whole bunch (but especially these shiny new sets of watercolor postcards
. See you in December!