Arte Soleil

Snark to Spark

by Robin Casey

In one of my previous blog posts, I spoke about my feelings of being lost and directionless. I’ve been feeling both artistically restless and blocked lately. I have projects on hold, it’s the end of the year, and I don’t feel like making the same art I used to. I feel like I’ve lost my snark.

I don’t know if it’s the depression, the anxiety, the feelings of displacement, or just going through period of growing pains – but something is different. The block I’ve had about making art lately seems to have a lot to do with a change of attitude, and the soft-snark bites I put into my usual fare haven’t been what wants to happen. The problem? I don’t really know what else to do. I’m not into the types of things most lettering artists put on places like Instagram. I’m not a shiny, perpetually optimistic, or peppy-positivity queen. I letter/draw what I feel – and a lot of how I feel gets translated into song lyrics that I letter, or snippy little soundbites. I’ve been lettering my feelings for years, but I wonder how that effects the continuation of some of what I feel, rather than allowing me to work through it and past it and move on.

Since I started with Arte Soleil a year ago, I’ve met a lot of other creatives in our circle that have very similar motivations. They feel, therefore they make. I’ve gotten to see how that manifests in others who have very different lives from my own, and obviously different feelings. I see how their experiences effect them, and how they manifest that into something that gives them something to carry around in the present. I’ve also seen a difference in the way we interact with each other as creatives based around our shared creative spectrum.

Two of the best things about Arte Soleil: The freedom to come in and try different media in the studio,and links to other creatives (and even our visitors!) that have different skill sets, interests, and viewpoints. I’ve had so many conversations with people here that I otherwise may have overlooked. These interactions and the freedom of the studio inspire a level of confidence between people that really builds a wonderful little community around us.

I’m trying something new – well, maybe only a little. I’m losing the snark, and trying to be a little more upbeat in my art. But honestly? It is SO. HARD. It’s hard to get out of the habit of being snarky and defensive – and it actually feels a little fake on the surface… but moving on from the place I was in before, I feel like I need to shed the skin of that person before we both drown.

I started some of this particular thing I’m doing while I was handling some of that anger before, but I’m trying to redirect it. Using this medium was incredibly cathartic before, but I wonder if redirecting it to something that inspires growth instead of despondent heel-digging might help loosen something up. In a way, it’s advice I wish I could have given myself about art a long time ago.

While I was working on my thesis in college, I read cultural anthropology texts about the study of Liminality (or the spaces between defined places), and the impact of the ritual (which specifically has a beginning, middle, and end). I’ve always concerned myself with the middle – the doing part. But I wonder if implementing this concept to future aspects of my art might keep me more aligned. Start where you are, do what you will, and move on when you’re done. I’ve feared for a long time about closing doors on past things. Probably for fear that a window won’t open and I’ll suffocate (artistically speaking)… but maybe that door needs to be closed in order for me to open the window myself, and let myself out.