(or, why following your dreams is bloody terrifying)

Maybe you’ve seen some of the lovely weird images I’ve been sharing on social media? smeary black and white oil paintings of Princess Diana, ghostly mushrooms, bleak storms at sea and other blurred visions from the edge of purgatory?

queer freelance illustrator LGBT

They’re possible illustrations for this project. It’s the final major work for my Master’s in Illustration: Authorial Practice at Falmouth University.

(go back to academia! follow your dreams!)

I’ve written a book of 33 passages of 333 words focused on gender, queerness, being outcast, depression, breakdown, death, magic and cats. I’m thinking about the inconsistent nature of the self, the unreliability of memory, of irony and earnestness and the definition of queer.

Once I have finished the book it will be printed and made-up and bound (book binding is one of the many very useful things they are teaching us on this course) and I will crowd-fund to publish it in a limited edition press. This will be around September/October 2018.

The sales pitch (don’t worry, I’ll move onto The Terror shortly, because I know we’re both more comfortable with that state of affairs)

If you’d like to support the creation of the project I’d recommend signing up to my patreon

(you would say that, you say)
(ah but have you seen the rewards? you get many and varied lovely things in return, say I. It is a win-win deal, say I)

You’ll get to read excerpts, see illustrations as they progress and, depending on the amount you subscribe for (up to $10 USD a month) you’ll get lots of art and maybe a copy of the book. There’ll also be little essays – thought responses – to the theory I’m reading and the art I’m looking at.

I’m working part-time to do this MA – I couldn’t afford to take the time off to work on it full-time, so your support of my patreon really does keep me going.

I’m creating this book because of the dire need for a diversity of trans voices.

I’ve read egregious well-meaning cisgendered people’s writing about the trans experience that are deeply harmful and it makes me want to sick up my lungs.

There are good trans writers out there and they are getting published – hooray! – but this work is different from what I’ve seen so far, straddling image and text, fiction and biography, and if I can do it right, it will lead you somewhere else. I’m very proud of it and I’m only halfway through. I can’t wait to share it with you.

That’s the sales pitch done – and now onto the terror

the terror is this: that I should be working on a cute kids’ book aimed at big publishers

the terror is that I am being self-indulgent, that no-one wants to read about trans experience, and that I should stick to drawing dinosaurs

the terror is that I have taken out a £10,000 student loan for these two years during which I should be Doing Something For My Career

And the protestant work ethic and conditioning of late capitalism is such that though I am exploring all sorts of wonderful things, though I am communicating just what I want to in these images, in this writing, though I know that this work is needed, and that it will set me off towards what I want to be doing, the voices (and ah, they are in the tone of my dear departed mother) the voices are concerned that This Work Will Not Be Profitable

this is the terror

and quite frankly, the terror can get fucked.

I have done a children’s book, and very popular it was too, and perhaps I will do another one one day. But now – now is the time of the queerdo. Now is the time for portraits honouring Marsha P Johnson, of fear and queer lust, of dark intentions and bright bones. Now is the time to other heteronormativity, to centre the weird, the obscure, the frayed-at-the-edges.

I hope you will join me on my journey, and I hope that we will both enjoy ourselves beyond and above the bite of terror.

And all shall be well
and all manner of thing shall be well
when the tongues of flame are in-folded
into the crowned knot of fire
and the fire and the rose are one

-T S Eliot