It’s official—Diabolical Whimsy is being revived.
For those of you who have been following me for a while, I’m sure you noticed that my posts have decreased dramatically over the last five years (my last website blog post was in November 2018!!) My focus during that time shifted to my day job and art creation/promotion took a back burner. To be honest, I started to view my art as a hobby. At first this was nice—it took the pressure off of having to sell my work, and allowed me to just make art for me. However, the combination of a highly demanding job and the pandemic caused me to have a pretty low creativity rate, so in recent years I barely was creating art, even just as a hobby.
This all changed when I got separated (i.e. fired) from my job. I want to talk about this, because I think there is a lot of stigma around being let go from your place of employment. I remember thinking being fired was something that would never happen to me—people only get fired if they do something seriously wrong, like steal or harass someone. I am a rule follower and goody-two-shoes. I never even got detention in high school, so there is no way separation could happen to me…right?
Turns out, there are a lot of reasons one can be let go from a job. While, of course, doing those reprehensible things mentioned above are reasons to be let go, sometimes it happens because you make a mistake, the company needs to downsize, or maybe your boss just doesn’t like how you do things. In my case, I believe it was a combination of an honest mistake and a leader who no longer saw potential in me for some reason.
The mistake I made was failing to enforce a sign-in sheet that the employees I was responsible for should have been using. I knew this sign-in sheet was a gap in my store, but coming off a really tough month (in which, among other obstacles, I had COVID) I chose to prioritize other things and let it slide. When my leader noted the mistake, I owned it. I immediately had my team correct this error, and everyone began using it after that date, but the fact that it was consistently not filled out was grounds for my dismissal. I was so shocked at this conclusion of my employment, partly because I had never even had a write up. While I understood that there needed to be consequences for my actions (or really lack of action), I honestly feel that my leader had lost confidence in my abilities, and pushed to have me separated instead of just being given a write-up.
In some ways, I am still struggling to come to terms with this outcome. I loved this job so much, and although it was not perfect (it came with a lot of stress and ate up a lot of my time) there were many aspects that I loved and believed in completely. I always struggled with certain aspects—namely planning/prioritizing—but I devoted so much energy into doing the very best job I could. Over the last few years in my role, I had improved significantly. I am honestly still shocked that this one error led to my separation.
Over the last month and half, I have let myself grieve. This job was a huge part of my life over the last 7 years. There were many months where I spent more time at my job than at home or with my family. This job saw me through several family deaths (including both my parents), my marriage to my wife, the purchase of our home, and many more life events. I devoted so much of my life to this job; I truly struggled to see myself as separate from it. I was this job. I found myself thinking, "Who am I if I don’t work there any more?"
This question led me to do some deep reflecting. Luckily, my wife supported me to take a trip up North to visit with some family in my hometown of Potsdam, NY. This escape helped give me the space I needed to not only come to terms with the loss of my job, but also for me to determine what I want to do next...
So what is next, you ask?
I debated several options, but the one that kept calling to me again and again was simply to be an artist again. To work for myself, do freelance work, and sell my art. I know this will come with many challenges, but I am certain that it will make me happier overall. While I really did love my job, and I don't regret trying it out, I can see now that it wasn't the best fit for me. Yes, it had lots of great benefits, including a lot of financial stability, but it also cost me a lot in terms of time and energy to create art and spend with my family, both of which are very important to me.
The exact plan for art as my main profession is still evolving (and probably will be for some time) but I do know I am going to focus on my personal mission in life: to transform the mundane into the magical! This mission encompasses my artistic pursuit of fantastical imagery in both mixed media photography and mixed media drawing.
To help ground myself in my mission, I’m going to try to adopt Neil Gaiman’s advice from Make Good Art moving forward:
To celebrate my return to art, I am hosting a sale on my website! All items in my newly updated store are 30% off now through November 6! Just use code REVIVE22. As an additional THANK YOU to anyone who makes a purchase, I'll be including a mini original artwork in all orders as well. <3
FaerieCon is arguably my favorite event that Diabolical Whimsy attends. I have always felt at home at there—felt accepted for the weirdo I am, no apologies needed. It is hard to pin point what I enjoy most about the event. Is it the writers, musicians, artists, and spiritual people who share their work and passions each year? Or the creativity of the attendees with their gorgeously constructed costumes? Or perhaps it is the shenanigans that my cousins and I always seem to get into during the masquerades? Whatever it is, I always leave the Realm feeling refreshed and artistically invigorated.
This year’s FaerieCon did not disappoint: It was filled with magic, friends and family, some jamming music, fantastic costumes, and the best part—some actual art making!
About a month before the event, I planned a Facebook event to see if I could find some people interested in volunteering to model for me. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to connect with anyone interested in it, but the online response far surpassed what I anticipated. By the end of the con, I had fit in a total of 5 shoots with new models! I am super excited to start working on them. Here are a few sneak peaks:
In addition to taking photos, I also sold some! That being said, attendance this year seemed low. Apparently, another big convention was happening in Baltimore the same weekend this year. The event coordinators announced that next year the event will be moving into the Inner Harbor area of Baltimore. I hope this will be a good move for the event. It should generate more shoppers with increased foot traffic, plus transit to the airport. I immediately signed up for next year, as I am optimistic about these changes. I think the change in venue will also add a new spark to the event. I look forward to returning next November.
Although I did not spend much time planning a costume this year, I did manage to accidentally make this sparkly cape! I purchased the base garment from a consignment shop, with the intention of adding to it so that I could wear it (it was originally a size 6). It sat in my costume closet for several years before I pulled it out this fall and decided I was finally going to do something to it. I began by ripping out the stitches and then I pinned it in a few places and slipped it over my head to figure out how exactly to alter it. Upon glancing in the mirror, I stopped and thought, never mind altering it into a dress that fits me—I’m just going to wear this as a cape! Sometimes the best things happen by accident.
The masquerades are often a lot of fun for us. We usually don’t listen to much of the music, but instead gallivant around, faerie watching and doing photoshoots in nooks and crannies of the hotel. This Good Faeries Ball, we actually ended up staying for the entire performance of Abney Park. They were amazing! After the concert, we spent a lot of time taking photos. We even took some of Bessy and the Hulkster! The Bad Faeries Ball went just as well, although we spend the majority of the time in the Garden Room taking photos. This time we had an audience—Timothy Lantz and friend (forgive me, I forget her name!) showed up and claimed we were more entertaining than the band. >.<
During the day, when I got a chance to walk around and talk to vendors, I was lucky enough to meet (and get a hug from) Iris Compiet! I supported her kickstarter project, Faeries of the Faultlines. Getting to see her work in person was a real treat. I only wish I could have made it to one of her panels, but the timing didn’t work out. I also chatted with several other artists, many of whom used mixed media which I found fascinating.
Coming home and going back to my day job was especially difficult this year. Everything seemed so mundane after the glittery world of FaerieCon. However, as a few weeks have passed I am finally readjusting to the muggle world again.
My next (and ongoing) challenge is to keep some of the magic of FaerieCon alive by setting aside time for my art. I recently got a promotion at my day job, and the holiday season is in full swing. I always find working on art hard during this time of year as much of my time is spent with family. However, this year I am striving to set aside time each day and week to create and promote my work. Having some new images to work on should make that easier. Plus I still have an unopened box of new art papers to use in my mixed media work!
First, I should send another huge shout out to my anonymous gofundme sponsor who made it possible for me to attend FaerieCon this year. It was a wonderful gesture of support for me and my artistic vision. I truly couldn't have attended this year if it wasn't for her/him. So thank you!!
This year's FaerieCon rekindled the magic of the event for me. In part, I believe this was due to my attitude going into it this year. Last year, I got very discouraged by the lack of financial success my artist table received (you can read about it here). The experience was a lesson well learned. I came to FaerieCon this year with a completely different outlook. I came to enjoy the convention--to meet people, to view new art, to buy something shiny, to attend a panel, to take photos, and to be inspired. Secondarily, I came to display my own work and to share it with the Realm. If I sold something, wonderful! That would simply be icing on the cake. (Of course maintaining this positive attitude was possible in large part because my gofundme sponsor paid for my table so that financial burden was nonexistent). I could feel the difference this attitude made right away. I was more relaxed and more open to absorbing all the creativity that surrounds this event.
Unfortunately, the panel was set for early Friday afternoon, and since the event had just begun, no one actually showed up. Even so, I do not count this as a negative--the other panelists and I just sat around and chatted for a good half hour. It was almost surreal to get to speak so casually with Renae, Jenny and Donovan. It was a landmark event in my career because even though no one actually came, being given that recognition and being put in the same category as some wonderfully skilled artists was really affirming. It felt like the creators of the event were validating my success. The whole experience set an incredibly positive tone for the remainder of the con.
Friday night, as always, was the Good Faeries Ball. My crew had a good time wandering, faerie watching and even taking a few photos. Sadly, they did not have the Garden Room open during the Balls this year. In past years, the Garden Room proved the perfect place to steal away for an impromptu photo session. this year we had be a bit more creative--but more on this later.
As we wandered Friday night, I noticed an artist's work that I had never seen before, Timothy Lantz. I couldn't quite tell what medium he used. Were they paintings? Photographs? Digital paintings? Or some combination? I think that mystery is what first drew me in. The work was phenomenal and I made a mental note to check it out when the artist was there so I could learn more about it.
On late Saturday, I got a chance to escape my table again and finally venture upstairs. I stopped at Tim's table and took a closer look at his portfolio. As I looked, I asked him a bunch of questions. The more we talked, the more enamored I became with his work. We have so many correlations between our artwork, it is kind of bizarre. He explained how his process involves photography, hand paintings and then digital manipulation--which is very similar to how I create my images. His work is also bold, with bright colors and rich darks. There were even some subject matter similarities. How could I have gone this long without seeing his work before this?
Unfortunately, Tim had to cut our conversations short as we was about to speak at a panel--so like an obsessed fangirl, I followed him. The panel (on illustrating for books) proved to be very interesting and encouraging, since their advice included strategies I have already been using.
As if all that wasn't enough, Tim Lantz stopped by to look at my work too! He even picked out a piece to take home with him. (I tell you--I was such a fangirl, it's a little embarrassing. I even got a photo of us together!)
*PS: Sorry this is so utterly late...life has been getting in my way of art making, but I think I'm getting some balance back! Look for more updates coming soon!
Here are some highlights:
The masquerades were, as always, fantastic! Not just because of all the live music (including the performance by Omnia which literally brought the ceiling down!) or because of all the fantastic costumes, but because yet again my crew stole away to do mini photo shoots. FaerieCon is such a wealth of inspiration for me (what with all the masks, costumes, music, artwork and like-minded people) that I've found a few of my most popular images are the ones I took literally during the convention. Both Friday and Saturday I was able to capture some great shots of my assistants in their costumes. Plus, I also shot some amazing light painting--including some of a dancer using a lit-hula hoop. I can't wait to use them!
If I measure my success at FaerieCon by the conversations I had, the connections I made with artisans, writers and con-goers, then it was fantastic! I met several people who were interested in modeling for me or getting commissioned portraits. I also met this fantastic metal mask maker, Kest Schwartzman. I wanted all of her masks--they were beautiful! Check out her work here. The booth across from us had these awesome sculpted dragons and the lady who made them, Mindy Safire Morea was wonderful! She had so much energy and was so bubbly.
Plus, I met a couple of authors (including Patrick Thomas) who were down the hall from me. They were awesomely chatty and offered plenty of helpful advice. Even more excitingly, I got them interested in helping with my next art book project, which I will feature flash fiction and poetry by a variety of writers.
It's hard to think about getting another book started when The Ringleader has only been out for a few weeks, but that's the life of an artist! There will always be a new projects, new artwork, new shows. Speaking of new shows, I've already started lining up events for 2015, including RyuCon, IthaCon and more. As always, stay tuned for updates--especially on my facebook page (and now I have a twitter account, too. Follow me @kendramatott). 'Til next time!
One of the greatest things that happened at the con was how all of my neighboring vendors banded together to spread the word about Artist Alley. The way this con was set up, there was the main vending hall and then in the two hallways on either side, there were separate vendors (one side was a "VHS fest" with vendors selling movies and collectibles, and the other side was Artist Alley). Since we were separate from the other vendors, many con-goers didn't even know there WAS an Artist Alley. I actually talked to a Staff member of the convention on Sunday who admitted he didn't know the Artist Alley was there either! However, instead of just complaining about the situation, a group of AA vendors decided to do something about it.
Plus, I did sell a preorder of The Ringleader! Speaking of which--you can preorder this art book through my website for $10 off retail price now til October 9!
After Scare-a-Con, I am even more excited for FaerieCon! I can't believe it is still 2 months away-I don't know if I can wait that long!
Ed made this great zombie with a speech bubble sign to try to direct more traffic our way. Plus, Ed moved his zombie cardboard cutout to the front of the vending hall. This was a great gimmick that got a lot of people's attention--he designed it so you could put your head through and take a picture as if the zombie had decapitated you! One of the vendors toward the end of the hallway went out and stood by the cutout to direct everyone taking pictures with it to Artist Alley. Remarkably, all that effort really did help increase traffic, at least on Saturday.
Unfortunately, the overall attendance was just kind of low this year. Jessica told me they had been vendors the year before and had at least broke even, but this year they didn't even do that. It being my first year there, I was just pleased with how many people did stop by to look through my work.
I have been visiting family here in West Virginia for the past week. We had our family reunion here. It was a small gathering this year but it was still a lot of fun. We planned some cool crafts for the kids, including a "firework" painting and glitter wands. Us adults had fun playing Apples to Apples and Cranium. I'm excited to use some of the photos I took while I've been here in some new images, especially the ones I took around our camp fire.
I am also super excited to announce that my Kickstarter campaign to fund the self-publication of The Ringleader has officially started! I worked for weeks working out all the kinks in my rewards, description, and my video and it is finally ready. You can check it out here:
Want to know more about The Ringleader? Be sure to visit my new page about the book here. There you will find a PDF preview of the first couple pages. As the campaign progresses, I will be adding updates here and on Kickstarter.
Never heard of Kickstarter? Well, it's basically a crowd-funding website that specializes in creative projects. What happens is the creator of a project (in this case, me) sets a monetary goal that he/she needs to meet in order to produce a specific project. If someone likes said project, they can "back" it for as little as $1. For each monetary level, the creator of the project offers rewards or incentives that vary by project. The rewards often include copies of the final project. The cool part is that money only exchanges hands if the project gets funded in full:
All-or-nothing funding protects creators from being stuck with a fraction of the funds they need and an audience expecting fully funded results.
Probably my favorite project was an illustrated novel for adults called Caelum Sky by authorstrator Andrea Radeck. She has these awesome illustrations of this little red dinosaur character who is super cute. Sadly, I missed the chance to be backer for her project, but I plan on watching for the release of her book so I can buy a copy.
Once I got a feel for how other people had outlined their projects, I was able to start brainstorming how to set up my own. I believe I am going to set my goal at around $5,000 which would be enough to cover the rewards and a publishing run of 150+ copies of The Ringleader in hardcover (and with a dust jacket). For rewards, I am offering bookmarks, Limited Edition mini prints, as well as copies of The Ringleader, when it gets published.
My goal is to finish it up by the end of next week so I can launch my Kickstarter project. Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Tumblr for updates!
It is more exhilarating than I can express to be getting so close to self-publishing this art book. Ever since I encountered art books like Brian Froud’s Good Faeries/Bad Faeries and Suza Scalora’s The Faeries I have dreamed of publishing my own artwork into a book. To have that lifetime goal almost complete is amazing.
While organizing all the new photos into folders, I also discovered that I have several images that are basically done but have not been shared on the website or on my social media pages. When I edit my photos, the final stage is very tedious. I enlarge the image and go through it to make sure there are no stray pixels or noise. This step takes so much time and patience that I am often guilty of postponing it. All of the mostly finished works are stuck on this step. So I guess I should stop waiting and go finish those up, shouldn’t I?
Maybe I will use some of those new images for my entries for the 6x6x2014 show at RoCo. I also have started two small mixed media drawings for the show, although finishing them may prove difficult. As always, I have a list a mile long of things that need to get done. Such is the life of an artist. At least I'll never be bored!
After doing a few other sci-fi/fantasy conventions over last summer, I became rather frustrated about the convention scene. While I always met some people who were truly interested in my work, I felt like a lot of the con-goers were only interested in fan art. At FaerieCon, there is significantly more original artwork. Plus, the attendees (while I’m sure they also would love a variety of fan art, cause who doesn’t?) always seemed to be looking for original artwork, so I feel like my work has a better chance of making an impression.
I am also really pumped because I found out that I may be able to enter work into the art show at Dragon*Con without actually having to make the trip down there. While I really want to attend Dragon*Con, financially I can’t do it this year. However, I’m excited about the prospect of sharing my artwork at that venue. I am also making plans to attend RocCon again as well as EerieCon this year.
In addition to my convention sign-ups and research, I have been spending the beginning of this new year trying to really kick up my work on my circus book. My goal is to have printed copies ready to sell at FaerieCon. Which means I need to finish editing and get the design finished. I also need to settle on a title…I think I’ve narrowed my choices down, but I’m still not positive which one I will go with.
I also have officially started shooting for a new series! I took some self-portraits last weekend and then met with a new model, Heather, yesterday. Both shoots went very well and I am excited to start the editing process. I was gonna post one of my favorites from the shoot, but I can't seem to find the cord to connect my camera, nor my card reader/USB drive...I think that means it's time to clean my studio! Wish me happy cleaning!
1. Like Diabolical Whimsy on Facebook
2. Share the contest image featured on my Facebook page with your friends (it will go live on the Facebook page at 8 pm EST)
3. Comment on your favorite Diabolical Whimsy image on Facebook
It’s that easy! The winner (which could be you!) will be drawn at random from a fancy hat (complete with feather!) on Wed, Nov 13. I will reveal the winner on the following day. :D
I’m really excited about this giveaway because I have been trying to work out a contest for several months now. I look forward to seeing how it goes. I plan to create more giveaways in the future as well…maybe even one around the holiday season. So be sure to keep an eye on my website and social networking sites!
As for what else I have been up to, I have been working on some new images and have even finished some! I can always be more productive, but I am pretty happy with all the new images I’ve turned out in the last few months. Below is just one example of a new image. You may have seen it on my Facebook page a few weeks ago.
Written and Illustrated by Kendra Matott
Plus, I am another step closer to publication since I finally have gotten back my story from my editor-in-chief, my sister Ranah. I am very grateful for her help with the story. It wouldn’t be nearly as powerful and cohesive if she hadn’t been there to help me fine-tune it. I still have some work to do on the text itself, not to mention some images that need to get finished as well. However, I am optimistic that this project (which is now into it’s second year) will wrap up pretty as a present. What can I say? I’m a glass half full kind of gal. :) Until next time…
Kendra's rantings and ramblings about various topics, including art making, events, writing, movies, music and other inspirations.
52-Week Photo Challenge
A Calendar Of Tales
All Fired Up
Art After Dark
Cny Arts Center
Fall Out Boy
S. A. McKay
Taylor's Maid Designs