Sunday, January 06, 2013

Behind the Cute Art curtain

I have always been into cute stuff.. Forever. But, as time has gone by, I've realized there's WAY more to it than just an attraction to cuteness. I feel 'at one' with cute art. Cute art is my native language. Even in phases when my art has had darker themes, there was always something sort of sweet and hopeful lurking underneath everything I've made. Cuteness permeated. It's always been part of the fabric.

So lately I've been working hard to uncover my truth in life, business, and my mission, and how everything intersects. Who I truly am (to my core) , what I truly care about (big picture, small picture... every picture), what I want to share with the world (what I am compelled to share).

And, of course, the biggest question is WHY.  Why I am driven to share this stuff. The toughest question is always WHY. Why, why WHY.

Instinct can tell you the
WHAT. It can even tell you the HOW. But the WHY is a riddle. To get to the genuine core of why takes conscious, clear, focused, hard work. 

A big, huge honkin' dose of the BRAVE. (Hey, you gotta go there to figure it out. You know what I mean?)

Well, guess what? I'm there. Delving in, sorting out, taking inventory, filling in blanks, turning over rocks... galoshes, with soil up to my shins.

So...The side effect of being ruthlessly brave for the purpose of moving forward (in brand, business, art... and human evolution in general, right?) is that, ultimately, the dots are going to get connected on a much deeper level. The themes that have permeated my entire life have somehow aligned themselves pretty organically and pretty flawlessly with my creative + entrepreneurial goals NOW. Everything, it turns out, is inextricably entwined. (Yup. Wow.)

It's like a jigsaw puzzle that has magnetically linked itself together on it's own.

So I've been living in this "magnetic puzzle" moment for awhile.. But have been stumped with how to best share this effectively, in a positive way, and without getting all gooped up in the details. It's sort of been this riddle that I haven't been able to solve. I am an optimist, but I also can't help but keep it real... And, let's be honest here, my early life was not all sunshine and tulips and rainbows. So... a little tricky, a little sticky.

But then, I had a lightbulb moment. My actual story itself  (GASP!) isn't really all that important. What IS important is what the outcome was. How I handled things. How I handled myself. How I handled situations. How I grew and became a stronger person.

And WHAT helped me to do that.

So, I asked myself: "When I was a really young kid, WHAT were my biggest comforts? WHAT transported me and supported me when I needed it? What made me feel safe when in an unstable environment? What felt like friendship when I most needed it? What kept me hopeful? What kept me ME?"

The answer is, was and has always been cute art.

It was 
my own cute art that I drew. I drew all the time, and drawing pictures with little flowers and doodles and my own characters and pretty dresses... that was my universe.

It was 
the cute art on all of the little cute things I had. Not only did I cherish these things because they were so cute and entertaining, but because they were, really, truly and completely a HUGE source of comfort. 

Drawing and getting lost in my own cute art was always my favorite thing to do.  In hindsight, it also allowed me to tune out that which needed to be tuned out. (And, it turned out to be an amazingly effective coping mechanism!) But it also trained mini-me on some really grown-up lessons that served me well later on. I learned to maintain a singular focus on a singular task for a long period of time. I trained with tenacity, patience and stubbornness to complete that single task. There's more to this, but you get the gist...

As for my cute stuff: it kept me company, entertained, comforted, inspired. Stuffed animals, Sanrio goodness. Books. Toys. A Saturday night would turn into a full-on happy thrill-fest when my mom would shuttle us all to the Sav-On drug store for a shopping trip. We'd all roam the store and choose our own candy and toys. It was THE BEST. One of my favorite childhood memories is actually set in Sav-On, I'm comparing the possible contenders with my sister and laboring over exactly what to get. (...And, for my treat dollar, nothing beat the Hello Kitty mini-stationery, notebooks, pencils and puffy stickers.)

Another one of my All-Star Life Savers was my Winnie The Pooh. When I first got him, he was even bigger than me! I dragged that hearty bear everywhere, for a long time. Then one day, we up and moved coasts on the quick. My sisters and I were allowed to pack only our barest-minimum, most-important items. Well, there was NO WAY I goin' anywhere without my Winnie. He even made the trek with his two best buds in tow, Dolly and Penguiny. The three amigos are still with me today.

What I'm trying to say is... the personality, heart and spirit that was present in the product art and characters lifted me. WAY lifted me. EonsThey lifted me then. They lift me today.

 In fact they might be even more important to me now, if that's possible— because I know now that they truly saved me then.

So, my saying "Cute Art Saves Lives" is light-hearted, silly, goofy, a little kooky and a lot tongue-in-cheek.. But, the truth is that it's my truth. Remembering how my cute art helped me so much THEN has turned out to completely inform and directly connect my art, my heart, and my mission NOW.. And NOW, it's all wrapped up in my happy place... :)

So that's the story, complete with overturned rocks and my Cute Art WHY's. (Now tell me... is it any wonder that WHY's and WISE sound exactly the same?)


Ronnie said...

Wow, beautiful. Thanks for that, Kathy.

Kathy Weller said...

Thanks so much Ronnie.

Diane Hoeptner (hep-ner) said...

Very thought provoking, good post!!

Kathy Weller said...

Thanks Diane :D Appreciate!

Carmen b. said...

Oh my...that was deep! :)But I enjoyed every sentence! And of course I identify with the Sanrio Goodness! XoXo!

Kathy Weller said...

Carmen Yes I wore my galoshes to write that one! But I am proud of it. That's been something I've wanted to write for awhile now.

Do you remember the mini-stuff too? I was completely mesmerized. (I have a good story coming up about it sometime soon)

Carmen b. said...

Oh Yes! everything in the Sanrio family, I had it all...the sticker books, the tiny erasers, the mini pads and of course the mini marker set for doodling!! I STILL just drool over that stuff when I see it in a store. I honestly think if my stocking were filled with it on Christmas morning I would have a field day! Such memories! It is amazing it is still popular. My daughter me her Hello Kitty figurine out of her Happy meal last Christmas and I just had to put her on my Christmas tree this year! I know... I will NEVER grow up!

Carmen b. said...

OoPsy! "My daughter GAVE me" typo!