Returning to the Internet and Public Life as a Disabled Artist, Part Two: Renewal.
Welcome to Part Two!
Today, I wanna talk about renewal, rebuilding, growth, change, goals, hopes, dreams, all of that– all the things that make me excited to be back here! If you haven’t already read it, I’d recommend reading Ghosting and Returning to the Internet and Public Life as a Disabled Artist, Part One before continuing reading this post.
This post is also on the longer side, so feel free to grab a drink and get cozy to read! It’s less linear today, so feel free to skip around the different sections.
IV. Bits + Bobs
Let’s first talk shop– literally.
I. Shop Updates + Patreon
One of the biggest changes moving forward is how I’ll be approaching the shop. I used to keep it open all the time, but that just isn’t sustainable for me for multiple reasons, so moving forward, I’ll be switching to doing shop updates!
I’m actually really excited about this!
My goal is to have the shop open for a few weeks at a time and only a few times throughout the year. I’d like to keep it fairly curated in nature: sticking to one print size per illustration, only offering a few kinds of items, and limiting how much inventory I keep on hand.
Eventually, I’d like to turn over the production portion to a local company that specializes in art prints and other products so that I can spend more time focusing on making art than on the manufacturing part, but that’ll be for a day when orders are in high enough numbers to justify that cost, so for now, the prints and things I make will be made in-studio.
While I was away, I saved up for a Cricut and a nicer printer that I’m excited to use for these updates. I’m hoping to offer stickers, bookplates, and art prints to begin with, as well as some digital comic PDFs and maybe some smaller print comics or zines. I’d also like to explore offering some digital products, too, like maybe some digital planner stickers, SVG files, printable items, and so on. But that’ll be later on down the road, I think. What would you be interested in seeing me offer? Tag me on social media, leave a comment, or send me an email at hellojbeoin [at] gmail [dot] com!
In addition to the shop updates, I’ve also launched a Patreon account! I wanted a way to invest in my work that would also help finance that work and connect with my audience in a regular and direct way, and I settled on using Patreon. Writing a newsletter, comic reviews, and behind the scenes posts and making comics is fun, but it’s also a lot of work, and I’d… like to get paid for my work 😅
If this is your first time hearing about Patreon, let me tell you a little about it; if you’re familiar with it, feel free to skip to the Tiers description. Patreon is a monthly subscription service that you sign up for that enables you to support my work on a regular basis. It helps a lot by providing me a source of steady income to rely upon and use for experimenting with new ideas. It lets me focus more on creating art and building a community of like minded people interested in comics and art that celebrates fat, queer, and disabled people! 😃
Now to tell you about the tiers!
The first two options are Wisps and Fae, and these are tip tiers. These are a way for you to show appreciation for and support my work with a small amount each month and to get access to a bit of exclusive bonus material that won’t be available anywhere else online!
⟡ Wisp: monthly newsletter, behind the scenes content, monthly Q+A, and a 5% discount for every shop update
⟡ Fae: monthly newsletter, behind the scenes content, monthly Q+A, and a 10% discount for every shop update
The other two tiers are Dragons and Unicorns, and I think these are extra fun because they offer you monthly and annual tangible rewards!
⟡ Dragon: monthly newsletter, behind the scenes content, monthly Q+A, a 20% discount for every shop update, occasional downloads throughout the year, a monthly comic exclusive to Patrons for a month, an annual vote on favorite comic of the year, and also (my favorite part!) an annual Thank You package in December for Dragons who have supported me for 3-6 months or more that includes some tangible goodies just for you!
⟡ Unicorn: monthly newsletter, behind the scenes content, monthly Q+A, a 20% discount for every shop update, occasional downloads throughout the year, a monthly comic exclusive to Patrons for a month, an annual vote on favorite comic of the year, and also (my favorite part again!) an annual Thank You package in December for Unicorns who have supported me for 3 months or more that includes some tangible goodies just for you! Unicorns who support me for 12 consecutive months also receive one commissioned original per year!
I’m genuinely so excited about this! I love the idea of staying in touch with people who are interested in my work and having a way to communicate with you that also enables me to provide you more of the work you enjoy. 🥰
Also, the thing I find most enticing as a Patron myself is having access to all the archived content, meaning all of the content that’s been previously published is available to you as soon as you become a Patron. As of today (early March 2023), I’ve already got a few months’ worth of content on there, and it’ll only continue to grow from there, so I’d love for you to consider becoming a Patron! 😃
And if you’d like to support me but can’t sign up as a Patron, you’re more than welcome to sign up for my newsletter Into the Bramble where there’s plenty of fun stuff in store for you! If you would like the newsletter but prefer to receive it by Patreon, you can follow me for free on there and receive the Into the Bramble newsletter each month that way. I deeply appreciate any support you can offer me and my work, so please don’t feel bad if you can only subscribe to the free options for now. It still really makes a difference and means so much to me! 💕
And that leads me to my next plan for the future– comics!
While disability and health management took over my life for a period of time, I’ve been wanting to be involved in comics creation in some way since I was a teenager, and the time has come that I feel I can finally take on that challenge!
I have three main goals in mind for the next few years:
⟡ continue to practice and improve my skills in storytelling, art, and writing
⟡ create short comics to share, sell, and submit for publishing projects and comic festivals
⟡ create and hopefully publish a graphic novel I’ve been working on behind the scenes
I’m very excited about this!! (And yes, I know I say that about a lot of things, but I can’t help it; I’m just a very excitable person! 😂)
I think finding a balance between making comics and continuing to run an online shop with all the admin work that entails will continue to be a challenge for me, but it’s one I’m excited to try. I’ll do my best!
So moving forward, in addition to my regular illustration work, you can expect to see a lot more comics- and sequential art-related content here and on social media, including:
⟡ Comics I’m working on: WIPs, short comics, story snippets, character designs, background and environmental studies, sketches and brainstorming, experimental pieces, prop design, and much more!
⟡ Comic reviews: library borrowed, physical comics, and digital comics
⟡ Comic-adjacent topics: animation, nerd news, comic book shops and bookshops
⟡ Artists and comic creators I appreciate: features, crowdfunding projects, and hopefully one day interviews!
This is where my Patreon will come into play a lot, particularly with the Dragon and Unicorn tiers, as I’ll be experimenting with a lot of techniques and ideas in that space. I’m also using that as my primary area of discussing my process and little details about my work in ways that I don’t always talk about on social media. It feels like a space where I can really dive into this kind of discussion, ya know?
Speaking of social media, that brings me to my next topic for the future:
III. Community + Connecting
If you read my last post, you’ll have an idea of how isolating the last few years have been for me during the really stressful last few years as my partner Corg* and I had to deal with a lot of difficult things on our own. One of the things that I’m focusing on moving forward is really intentionally connecting with people in new ways.
*Corg is the name my partner has chosen for me to refer to him as online since he loves Corgis 😂
One of the ways I plan to do that is, of course, through social media, but also through writers groups, volunteering, and maybe even some art groups if I can find a good fit! Eventually, my hope is to start making youtube videos, too. Social media has proven to be a bit difficult for me to keep up with, given its preference for a constant stream of short form videos and relentless dedication to the almighty algorithm of each individual platform. I hope that things like writing blog posts and making youtube videos will help me open up more.
The biggest challenges for me in staying connected with people include a combination of being restricted largely to online methods and the limited amount of energy and time that I have as a disabled person. As I mentioned in the last post, I’ve been trying to find ways to live more in the gray, trying to find balance in my life, and letting go of the need to be perfect or not do the thing at all. And as we know, practice makes better!
I’ve found a few nice places that I enjoy so far. OCLS (Orange County Library System) of Florida has some really wonderful writing programs, thanks in no small part to Sarah N. Fisk, and the Gotham Writers weekly Write-In has also become a welcome regular in my life. If you’re into storytelling and writing, I’d also recommend checking out the Mid-Continent Public Library where they have some excellent workshops, as well as a dedicated Storytelling Certification program! I’ve also been trying to keep abreast of the recently formed Disability in Publishing group, as well as working on getting involved as a volunteer with Callen-Lorde here in NYC (hoping that will be confirmed shortly after this post comes out!).
There are some other groups that I’m still checking out, too, and once I’ve gotten a feel for them, I’ll try to remember to share them here in the future.
One thing I would love to find is an artists’ group, similar in concept to the writing programs I’ve been attending, where we get together for an hour or two, working on a prompt, then sharing with the group with the goal of being connected with community, sharing feedback, and improving our skills by just showing up regularly to practice our craft. If you know of any groups like that, let me know! You can email me at hellojbeoin [at] gmail [dot] com. I’d love to check it out. (I did try the Artists Studios Community Series with NYPL, but it didn’t quite click for me, but maybe it will for you!)
It’s been really nice to resume writing regularly, too. I’ve always enjoyed writing and really missed the group setting I first experienced in college, so this has been a pleasant addition to my life, and I look forward to using the practice to further my comic making skills!
IV. Bits + Bobs
There are some other things I’m looking forward to in life that aren’t necessarily work but that are definitely going to be a big influence in my life and work in the next few years and that I’ll likely share here and there as they happen.
One of the biggest is that Corg and I are planning to move out of state as soon as it becomes financially possible for us, which we’re hoping will be by no later than summer of 2024. Corg grew up here in the city (minus one year out of state as a child), and I’ve spent the last 17 years of my life here (13 on the same block alone!), so it’s going to be a huge transition for us both. But it’s definitely something we both agree is needed.
Some things we’re hoping to get out of the move are:
⟡ improved accessibility
⟡ lower cost of living
⟡ more time at home, less time on commuting
⟡ more fresh air and access to the outdoors
⟡ more in-person community
⟡ more space and better, safer living conditions
⟡ having pets
⟡ having our washing machine and dryer in the building or even, dare I hope, in our own space
⟡ central a/c
⟡ if I’m dreaming big Adult Dreams™, maybe even a dishwasher! lol
NYC was never my final stop in mind when I first moved here at 18, so I’m grateful that we’re finally almost able to move out to a quieter, more affordable location with trees and a horizon lol
Corg was a bit reluctant to leave the city for a long time, but since the pandemic came, his feelings have changed significantly, and I think he also is looking forward to trying the smaller city life (I haven’t yet convinced him to live in a forest with me 😂) . Even if I’m a bit nervous, I’m really glad I have him to go on this adventure with!
We’ve been scouting out some locations and have settled on a place in a state near enough NYC to visit his family and my friends for weekends from time to time. We’re planning to visit this spring to get a feeling for the place and the people and hopefully check out some of the resources in the area. We’ve tried to pick a place that’s as close to the demographics of NYC as we could; I’m queer and trans, and Corg is Asian, so it’s important for both of us to feel like we’re moving somewhere that feels safer than say, the Bible Belt lol
Another thing that’s been a big change for me is being on testosterone! As I mentioned in my last post, I started it in July of 2022, and it’s been an amazing addition to my life so far! I made a couple of little comics about it that you can check out (both of which I’m pleased to say were published!), and I’m planning to make more in the future.
There have been a lot of great queer and trans-centric comics out there, and I’d love to contribute to the comic book shelves with my experience as a fat, agender person on testosterone gel. So far I’ve been taking a photo a week of my face (I was too tired to strip and take full body photos every week to also edit later for privacy lol), and it’s been really exciting to see the slow transformation of my face in ways that I can’t always put my finger on but that are definitely there. I want to share that excitement with other trans people in comics!
There’s not a ton of info out there about transitioning, particularly on testosterone gel instead of the shot option and especially for nonbinary and fat people, so I would really like to reach out to my fellow medical transitioners and share with them the beauty and reality of this experience. I also think it would be amazing to team up with fat, nonbinary people medically transitioning with estrogen, too, as well as fat, nonbinary people who aren’t medically transitioning for us all to share our various experiences! I would love to see more collaborations among the nonbinary community in general (makes me cry happy tears every time 🥲), and this could be a fun place to do that, I think.
(P.S. If it you, please take this as an invitation to reach out to me! You can email me at hellojbeoin [at] gmail [dot] com, and we can get to know one another a bit and see if we’d enjoy working together on a project!)
By the way, if happy trans stories are your jam, I totally recommend checking out When I Was Me: Moments of Gender Euphoria, a comics anthology from Quindrie Press that I absolutely cherish. Another great place for queer and trans comics that aren’t necessarily strictly about being queer/trans is Power & Magic Press’s comic anthologies. I really enjoyed their Heartwood: Non-Binary Tales of Sylvan Fantasy and books one and two of their Queer Witch anthologies. Such absolute treasures, these books!
So yeah, expect more trans-centric stuff, too!
Disability + Fatness
There’s no way I could finish this post without talking about how I’ll continue to center disability and fatness in my work!
It’s become so ingrained in my process that it feels kinda weird to even have to remember to mention it when I write about my work lol Every character I illustrate is disabled in some way, and all of them have been fat, too, and that’s how it’s been for years now. It’s been so heartwarming to receive the comments from fat and disabled people over the years of feeling seen, feeling validated, feeling loved when they look at my work. It’s something I always hoped would be the feeling people would get, but I hadn’t realized how much it would mean to me to hear people express that to me, too. *sobs happily*
Lately, I’ve been toying with the idea of how to do body types in comics. My primary goal with them is to continue to represent as many fat and visibly disabled people in them as I can, but I know there will be times where I won’t always be able to do that, so I’m trying to find a good balance of representation in my comics. I’m also being really intentional about flipping the script on the mainstream narratives of fat and disabled characters often equating to villainous, undesirable, pitiable, inspiring, or the clown; my hope is that publishers will be open to these kinds of narratives when I present them, and my backup plan if they’re not is to pursue some sort of self-publishing as necessary. (The latter is just going to be much more exhausting for me, but I will try to get these comics out there one way or another!)
Also, amusing side note: It’s actually become kind of difficult for me to draw straight size bodies since I committed years ago to only drawing fat people, so I’ll need to get used to doing that again lol
But my goal remains the same with my work: represent positive, realistic, nuanced, and very human examples of fat and disabled people in my work. Fat and disabled joy, fat and disabled love, fat and disabled complexity, fat and disabled as normal, fat and disabled as human.
I hope that even as my work’s style and format continues to grow and change over the years, you’ll still find yourself feeling seen and valid and loved in it.
I make it for you, I make it for me, I make it for us.
I love you. 🥰
V. With Great Hope
And that’s all on the agenda for today, I think! This piece has become quite the long one lol If you read to the end of this or if you only read parts of it, thank you so much! I genuinely feel flabbergasted when people want to hear my thoughts on things, let alone take the time to read long pieces like this, so thank you very much! It’s very encouraging, and I really appreciate you being here.
If you are reading all the way down here, can you do me a favor and leave me a comment letting me know what you’re most interested in seeing from me? I’d love to hear from you!
In the spirit of trying new things and getting comfortable with reaching out, I’d love to ask you to share this piece with someone who might be interested or to have you subscribe to my newsletter Into the Bramble or Patreon! You can also find and tag me on Instagram, Twitter, and Hive. Every little bit of support is deeply appreciated 💕
My final hope for today is something inspired by the regular encouragement of abolitionist Mariame Kaba‘s words, “May tomorrow bring us more justice and more peace” and her frequent reminders to nurture hope:
I hope we come closer together as a community. I hope we work in solidarity across identities and interests. I hope we center those among us who are most vulnerable at the intersections of their identity. I hope we dream new ways of being and pursue them with all of our hearts. I hope we take and instill courage in ourselves and others. I hope we embrace softness and kindness over hardness and niceness. I hope we rest. I hope we make space for one another. I hope we embrace differences in ways of being. I hope we help one another. I hope we cultivate hope for our future. I hope we love and care for one another radically. I hope.
And I hope to see you again here and elsewhere!
Thanks for reading 💕 All my love,