I made my own font, and I’m thrilled!

Picture 1964 me. Actually, a few years after this picture, in another house, but not yet 10 for sure.

As part of my acute sensitivity to my family’s dilemmas, I understood that my Mom was unhappy, in part because she wanted to start her own business. Lots of reasons why the little sewing shop she had closed. One of those reasons being my Dad not being comfortable with her being by herself in the neighborhood. I don’t know if things were getting boisterous at that time, but Daddy would have been worried, regardless. He was hours away, upstate New York, being a butcher. If anything untoward happened, he couldn’t protect her.

And yet, protecting her mental and emotional health was most likely relegated to the hands of Jesus. So, yeah: her shop had to close down. And my memory of that time is that the lack of independence, freedom, etc, sent my Mom deeper into darkness. But, like many poor people, there was no choice but to persevere. So, she trained to become a nurses’ aide.

Sigh.

Anyway, here I was, not yet 10, realizing that money was too tight to mention and the source of enormous pain and nonsense in my family. It occurred to me that perhaps I could help. I vaguely remember making little notes in childish overloopy script, making stories in my little diary, and just basically really loving seeing my own handwriting on the page.

Then I got the idea to start a greeting card business. How hard could it be? I’d use paper and make little drawings and make up little quotes, then sell them to my elementary school friends.

I can remember the feel of the construction paper and crayons and the box I kept my intellectual property in and the whole sense of excitement that I was going to change our lives for the better through creating a business, something my Mom wanted so desperately to do.

I made enough to fill a shoebox. I took them to school. I don’t remember one sale. And since my memory is a sieve, you might say: “but you must have sold one!”. I think not.

Fast forward (so dang fast) to my hippier days. I loved making my loopy script. It mattered less whether anyone else liked it. It was for me. This tendency, this love of the loopy font, continues to this day. I have been starting my art practice with my face and my sayings (yes, I have a little narcissist in me, probably. but I’m hermit enough not to hurt anyone). What was I saying? Oh right. My art practice is illustrations of my face with various emotions and a saying that goes with it. The saying was always in the loopiest script imaginable – barely legible without a lot of time, and not what I wanted in the end, although I published anyway.

Then the thought hit me: what if I could create my own font? Slurp it into my devices and apps and use it as my go to? I did a little digging and found this:

https://fontsinuse.com/sets/5244/african-american-designers

And then digging around further I found this:

http://2ttf.com/

And after a very small learning curve, which will of course not be the same as the many experts who study this stuff, and you should hire them or buy their fonts post haste, because mine doesn’t adhere to design principles, just what looked good to me, I present:

Which I used in today’s piece:

Someday I will get behind the mic again

illustration of Terri behind a imc

I love love love being behind a mic. Seriously. It’s liminal space, a place where I can feel celebrated and be more of my full self. Unfortunately, I’ve been letting my podcast and musical partners down. all 2020 and 2021, and I’m still mired in a combination of shame and disinclination to get started again.

It’s crazy, because I was so proud to get my gear set up, all on my own: my Shure Mic and my Focusrite Scarlett Interface. Now of course, for my pro audio friends, this is like before breakfast – pre baby steps. But I was very proud of myself anyway!

But I do keep writing lyrics, and singing songs, sometimes all in one go while washing dishes or walking under trees. I’m still recording them. So, there’s nothing to stop me from figuring out a beat and singing a polished-up version.

Nothing to stop me, except me.

I’ve been thinking deeply about how I hate taking one creative step. If I don’t get to the destination immediately, my dopey brain says the effort isn’t worth it and I stop myself in my tracks.

One of main reasons is that nothing I make is even close to the thing I have in my mind, and I wallow in the disappointment.

I don’t have a great big pronouncement here like: I’m fed up with myself and not going to let Resistance win anymore!

Because come on, be real: it’ll happen again. In fact, my ever-present Resistance isn’t mine. Here’s one of my most important invisible mentors (meaning he has no idea I exist, and it doesn’t even matter, lol) Steven Pressfield:

So yeah, my dream, which I find hard to articulate, is getting a little bit clearer. And my motivation, while wibbly-wobbly still, is asserting itself more often. That’s why there are multiple posts on this blog. My focus now is to go, and keep going!

Some days I think art is just around the corner

sketch of Terri smiling saying 'Creativity Counts!

I just finished listening to Daily Rituals: Women at Work by Mason Curry. This excerpt of the book description says it best:

“…exploring the daily obstacles and rituals of women who are artists–painters, composers, sculptors, scientists, filmmakers, and performers. We see how these brilliant minds get to work, the choices they have to make: rebuffing convention, stealing (or secreting away) time from the pull of husbands, wives, children, obligations, in order to create their creations.…”

So many of these women struggled with balancing the needs of family, lovers, etc etc…and yet they were pulled along, by something internal, to create. To express. To make their singular mark on the universe.

I think that is utterly cool. And it’s what I want to do as well. Not so much for the universe or posterity, when I won’t be around to see it. But I want to create for now, right now, and the near future, and whatever future comes after that. I want to make way for the surfacing of joy.

So much of my writing on this blog has been about rage, American rage at horrific people in power and the complicit citizens who elect them. This morning, I was looking back at my posts and thinking: but, what about creativity, which is my first love and likely to be my last? What about the fact that, when people ask me what my purpose is in life, I tell them: joy bringer. I’m here to bring joy. In all its random, unexpected forms.

So, I’m taking gentle steps to dial back on the rage (which is completely justified) and refocus on joy. That means that you, dear reader, will get to enjoy my attempts at all kinds of things, from art to music, to writing to video. It’s actually so liberating! I still care deeply about my wounded, dopey, oblivious country. But, I can support great efforts to change things in progressive directions, and I can fulfill my own joyous ambitions as well.

I believe that making art is both a blessing to yourself, maybe to others and a blow against the Empire. They don’t want a world in which there is an internet we can use to learn and grow and create. The generosity of that is anathema to them. I like the idea of being that powerful and doing what I want to do anyway, lol!

So, make something you’ve been putting off. Get it out there. Don’t get too caught up in the tools. So much of the time I’m more focused on what tools to set up to publish…what? To publish nothing because I had it the process backward. Make it first. Share it next. Onward!