I actually had to buy a sketchbook!

If you’ve read the post about my new sketchbook system you may recall me mentioning one of my “travel” category sketchbooks being bigger than I’d like. Recently I came to realize that it’s too big to fit in my cargo pants or fanny pack! I had two options: move that sketchbook to the “medium to large white paper” category, or let it go. Using a bigger bag wasn’t an option for me, due to my disabilities I need to carry as little weight as possible, and I have a tendency to fill all the space in any bag I use!

A few weeks ago I met my friend’s 4 year old daughter and we had a blast drawing together, and since I’d learned she didn’t have a sketchbook of her own, yesterday I decided to ask her mom if it was okay to give that sketchbook to her. They were both thrilled by the present!

With that taken care of, I was left without any excess travel sketchbooks in the overflow cabinet! My No Buy rules allow for replacements and refills as necessary, so I was allowed to buy one. I knew I wanted one of the exact size I’ve been using since it fits perfectly in both my cargo pants and my fanny pack, but isn’t ridiculously small either!

In order to not torture or tempt myself I actually sent my partner into the craft store for me! With her help we picked out a recycled paper sketchbook by Artist Loft. (Not sponsored!!) They were out of the exact sketchbook I had been using, but this one has the same page count, weight, is the same width and is only .5″ longer. I am excited about trying recycled paper- I think the little speckles in the pages might help me fight against the fear of the blank page!

(Image from the Michael’s website)

Well that’s all for now. I’ll make a sketchbook highlights post when I finish up this current travel sketchbook, which will be soon! I’ll see you then, take care in the meantime!

90 days free from the hardest addiction I’ve ever battled.

Content warning: self-injury; mentions of child abuse and substance use.

To commemorate the occasion, I made myself a little laminated keytag, which is being displayed on my fanny pack.

I’ve battled many addictions, from shopping and hoarding to drugs and alcohol, all just different symptoms of the same disorder. But the first and hardest addiction to quit has been self-injury.

When I was 12 I started cutting myself. Even before that though, I don’t even remember when exactly it started, I began hitting myself. Because my father beat me, I learned to beat myself when I was angry. Now it’s been a few years since I last cut myself, but it’s only been 90 days since the last time I hit myself.

I am truly amazed that I was able to get this far. I am being completely honest when I say this has been more difficult than kicking drugs. My fists are always attached to my body, I have to go out and buy drugs to use them.

Unfortunately I could relapse at a moment’s notice, but I won’t dwell on that fact. If I relapse I will pick myself up, dust myself off, and keep going. Just because my clean time counter resets doesn’t mean all that work suddenly just disappears, these 90 days will ALWAYS count for something. Nothing will ever take away the fact that for these last 3 months I have not cut, hit, scratched, or bit myself.

I truly believe that if I could do this, you can break any bad habit too. Sometimes it’s a matter of gritting your teeth and sitting on your hands, but it’s well worth the effort.

Thank you for reading, please be kind to yourself, and I’ll see you in the next post!

Portfolio!

If you’ve visited my site before, you may have seen my “Folders Index” page, which contains all of my public Google Drive Folders filled with art. That page has a new name now: “Portfolio and Folders” which I think is more straightforward and less confusing.

A portfolio is a very useful resource for any artist, and since I was lacking in one I figured now is as good a time as any to create one.

Something I regret is that many of the photos were taken with older camera phones in less than ideal lighting, in the future I would like to rephotograph as many of these pieces as possible. A few commissioned works I no longer have access to, such as “Fight Club Punchy”, so the photos I currently have are the best I’m going to get.

Other than that though, I’m quite happy with it, I think it properly showcases my current skill set and art styles. I will continue to update it as I make more art and find new favorite pieces of mine!

That’s all for now! I have a few different projects I’m currently working on and I’m very excited to show them to you all when they’re done, so I’ll see you again soon!

Make Bad Art Collective

Established July 28 2022

Our mission:
To rebel against pretentiousness and elitism in the art community. We want to encourage all people to embrace their creativity, because we believe art is for everyone. We are explicitly and inherently anti-bigotry.


I decided to start an art collective! Nothing too serious, but it exists now! It only has 2 members at the time of writing this, myself and Jasper Rae, but perhaps in the future it may grow into something awesome. Or not, but it’s all for the sake of fun and trying to spread positivity, so it certainly doesn’t hurt to try!

There are no fees or dues, no responsibilities, and no expectations besides aligning with the mission statement. Again, if this actually ever grows into something notable there might be optional responsibilities, but for now there are none.

If you’re interested in being a part of this I’d be super happy to hear from you! Just send me an email at ari.october.art@gmail.com with your name / art alias / pen name, a little bit about yourself, and why you’re interested in joining! You’re not required to send in a portfolio or anything, but I’d love to see your work if you’d like to share it.

Just wanted to get this information out into the world. I hope you’re all having a wonderful day and I will see you in the next post!

My sketchbook system: 4 is the magic number!

(If you take a sip of water every time I use the word “sketchbook” in this post, you should be quite hydrated by the time you’re done reading!)

Like many artists, I have suffered from constantly craving a shiny new sketchbook. I would often buy a new one before finishing the one I was working in, leaving the old one to collect dust. This is why one of my New Year’s Resolutions for 2022 was to finish filling 3 of those partially-filled sketchbooks, and at the beginning of July I was able to achieve that goal! Yesterday I went above and beyond, completing a fourth!

Through my Art Supply No Buy I have come to accept that I am not a “sketchbook monogamist” and that variety of materials is important to me. Tidiness and a minimalistic lifestyle are also important to me though, so I have come up with a system: I may have 4 sketchbooks active at any one time, but they each have their own use. These four categories of sketchbook are as follows:

  • One medium to large, white paper, dry or mixed media sketchbook.
  • One medium to large, black paper, mixed media sketchbook.
  • One watercolor paper sketchbook, of any size or color.
  • One pocket size sketchbook, of any media or color.

These categories allow me to have just enough variety for all the mediums and sizes I want to work with, while also giving me a hard limit on sketchbooks to prevent over-purchasing. When I run out of sketchbooks in one category at that point I may purchase one new one for the same category. So for example: if I fill up my black paper sketchbook I may buy a new black paper sketchbook, but not a new sketchbook of any other category… No matter how tempting the options may be!

My No Buy rules allow for replacements and refills when necessary. Because of this, depending on just how much I create this year, I could possibly find myself purchasing a new sketchbook before the year is over. Black paper is the category I am most likely to actually go all the way through, because I only have one small pad of black paper in surplus besides the sketchbook I am currently working in. We will just have to see what happens, but that could be quite exciting!

I decided to take an inventory of all the sketchbooks I have left that are waiting to be filled:

  • 2 in the medium to large white paper category, the larger one is about half-full and the other is completely empty.
  • 2 in the black mixed media category, one is about half-full and the other is a pad of removable paper I have only used one sheet from.
  • 2 in the travel size category, although they are a bit bigger than I’d prefer. In the future sketchbooks of this size will be in the medium to large category, I just don’t want to buy anything right now so they will stay put. The smaller one is about half-full, the other is completely empty.
  • 1 in the watercolor category, with a few pages full. You would think I might find myself needing another before the end of the year, but with a crazy almost-9-month-old it is hard to find time to watercolor.

Between filling up 4 sketchbooks and donating a few others, I have dropped my surplus numbers into the single digits! This is very exciting for me. I now see a number of sketchbooks I could imagine myself filling in the next 12 months, maybe even less, especially if I keep drawing as often as I have been lately.

I have to attribute a lot of this success to my change in lifestyle choices. I have not been playing video games for 42 days now, and over the last several years I have been working on cutting down on my internet consumption and overall screen time. Forcing oneself to allow for a healthy dose of boredom works wonders for increasing creativity and productivity, at least in my personal experience! Now I find drawing to be fun, a time for play and exploration, when previously it mostly felt like work and a chore compared to the instant gratification of the digital world.

Obviously technology still serves me, as I am currently writing this blog post on my smart phone. It has just become more of a tool than an entertainment device! I am currently very satisfied with my relationship to my tech and my art. It’s such a pleasure to be able to deliver such news!

It’s nice to get another post out again so soon, last night’s achievement has given me some momentum! My next post may take a while longer, but I will see you all there when it’s done. Stay safe and healthy!

New Year’s Resolution: Complete!

(My tiny travel sketchbook started falling apart! A whole clump of pages fell out, which was very disappointing. So I decided to fill up the remaining 16 sheets as quickly as possible, which took 2 days. I had 3 more exactly like it, but unfortunately I will be donating them since they do not suit my needs. I hope they will serve their new owners well, they are very cute but they just aren’t durable enough for me.)


Included in my list of intentions for 2022 was a goal to finish up 3 of my partially filled sketchbooks, and near midnight of June 30th 2022 I accomplished exactly that!

My partner actually made it possible to finish before July, because she took on the job of filling the last 4 pages in my tiny travel sketchbook, much to my relief! I had been worried an hour and a half left in the day wouldn’t be enough time, as I am a chronic over-thinker! I set the deadline of midnight for myself because I heard it helps to set deadlines, especially if you’re prone to procrastinating. She really saved the day, I was feeling exhausted from the long day we had, and I’d already filled so many pages in such a short time!

My sketchbooks aren’t only for me, I love to invite others to draw in them and leave their mark. I cherish the drawings provided by others, they are the most special to me, far more important to me than anything I draw. I’m aware many artists may find me crazy for this, as for them their sketchbook is a sacred place for only them. I’m just not like that though, I enjoy art-making so much more when it’s with friends. My sketchbooks are like journals for me, which is why I also write in them and paste things in, they are books filled with memories. In my eyes, the doodle of a friend is a treasure.

I am so relieved to have, with plenty of help from my lovely partner, succeeded at finishing up 3 sketchbooks in a year. While it’s not quite as impressive as filling 3 brand-new sketchbooks from front to back in a year, I couldn’t be happier to have less clutter in my art cabinet! In the future I need to be diligent about not buying new sketchbooks if I don’t have a genuine need for one. I could write a whole post about my sketchbook categories and how I plan to handle purchasing new sketchbooks in the future, and I probably will honestly.

I would love to finish up even more sketchbooks this year, but either way this marks 7 sketchbooks filled, I am very satisfied with my progress! It took me twenty-something years to finally fill even just one, when I was younger I never would have imagined I’d actually fill seven entire books filled with intimidating blank paper.

That’s it for now, just wanted to share the celebration with you all! Have a wonderful day and I will see you in the next post!

Confusion of Love

I made this piece in February of 2009, when I was in the 7th grade and questioning my sexuality for the first time. By the time I created this I knew for certain I liked girls, but couldn’t decide if I also liked boys. That struggle continues to this day.

In a previous post I had labeled myself as pansexual, but that was a very recent decision. I had concluded I would probably love and stay with my partner regardless of how she identifies, therefore being attracted to her regardless of gender. However, today I decided to change the wording of that post and revert back to the Nonbinary Lesbian lable I have been so comfortable with for the past 5+ years.

Although it may sound contradictory to someone unfamiliar with the terms, yes I do identify as both Nonbinary and a Lesbian. This is because our language lacks words that would better describe how I feel. Sex, as in one’s body parts and chromosomes, is not a factor in who I am attracted to. Gender on the other hand, a personal identity and social performance, does for some reason. I am attracted to people that, for lack of better words, have “feminine energy”. This isn’t to say I am not attracted to masculine women though, and I’m not sure how to explain better what I mean by it.

I am also “woman-aligned”. My relationship to gender is so tumultuous I can no longer return to the label and identity of “cisgender woman”, but when forced to “pick a side” between man and woman I always choose woman. This unfortunately happens quite often, an example is when filling out forms that only have two options for gender and there is no way to write anything else. When I can discuss my gender more at length as I am doing here, I am able to convey that I reject the binary and don’t want to be forced into a box. I also continue to struggle with gender dysphoria that once had me identifying as a trans man for a few years, but I no longer feel comfortable identifying as and behaving as a man.

I’m not only attracted to women, but also to fellow nonbinary people. If more people understood that “bisexual” doesn’t just mean “attracted to both binary genders” but often means “two or more genders” perhaps I would use that instead. Unfortunately in our current world many people do not know that, and therefore lesbian is the best word I have to convey my sexuality in simple terms.

If you would like to read more on the topic of nonbinary lesbianism, I found an article that I would highly recommend to anyone wanting to understand the lable better. I am aware that it can be very confusing to people both in and outside of the LGBT+ community, but I urge you to approach the subject with sympathy and compassion, we are all just people trying to navigate this very complicated world.

At the end of the day it really doesn’t matter what my sexuality is, because as I’ve said before I am happily partnered (hopefully for life) to my favorite (also nonbinary!) lady in the entire world. I continue to question the labels I use for the sake of understanding myself better, as well as being understood better by others, not because I need other women to know I might find them attractive. Anyway, at this point in my life I think I would choose solitude over another relationship if the one I am in happens to end for any reason.

My relationship to sexuality and gender has always influenced my creations, as all other aspects of my identity and life experience do. So today I publish this very old artwork on this blog to pay homage to the very long journey I’ve had questioning my labels, and to thank my younger self for making this piece that I still resonate with so deeply.

Thank you for reading this and for keeping any unkind thoughts to yourself (wink!), I hope you have a wonderful day and I will see you in the next post!

Art Supply No Buy: Mid-year check in!

Last week I let you all know that I had made a mistake and broke my No Buy rules. I never really laid my rules out in a list, so I’ll give that a go now:

  • No purchasing new art supplies, duh!
  • Replacements and refills ONLY and only when genuinely necessary.
  • Borrowing is only okay occasionally, prioritize using owned supplies.
  • Buying things that aren’t necessarily art supplies with the intention to use them as art supplies is NOT allowed.
  • Upcycling trash is allowed, but buying something you wouldn’t have bought with the intention of upcycling the packaging is NOT allowed.
  • Trying free digital art programs is okay, taking free traditional art supplies is not.
  • Organizational items (such as pencil pouches, desk organizers) don’t count as art supplies and are okay to buy if there is a genuine need.
  • Art supply gifts should be discouraged, but if given by someone ignorant of the No Buy may still be accepted. Don’t use gifted items until 2023 unless they would become unusable by then.
  • Buying art merch from fellow small artists, such as stickers, prints, or pin buttons, is ok and actually encouraged.
  • Don’t look for loopholes, if it feels like it would violate the rules then it would.
  • If you stumble or fall just pick yourself back up and keep going. You haven’t failed unless you give up entirely.

(All instances of the word “you” in that list are referring to myself, but feel free to follow my rules if you like them and think they would apply to your own No Buy!)

Now that I’ve laid down the rules, we can see that I have violated the first rule once by buying a phone stylus that doubles as a ballpoint pen. Since this is my first and only slip-up this entire year so far I am actually quite proud of myself! This whole thing is turning out to be a lot easier than I expected.

Since I am not buying any art supplies until 2023 I started a shopping list for when the No Buy is finally over. Only items I think would truly benefit me made this list, there have been many temptations but these all feel like logical purchases!

  • Pentel pocket brush pen
  • Magnetic drawing board toy
  • Top coat for acrylic painting
  • Base coat for acrylic painting
  • Button press machine

The Pentel pocket brush pen is something I’ve only heard good things about and definitely suits my art style. I love using brushes, I love refillable things, and I love things that are very portable. It would definitely be great for limiting my supplies for my travel sketchbook. I have had black brush pens before, such as the Sakura Pigma brush pen, but never ones with bristles and never refillable. This may actually be the item I look forward to most, though it is small and simple I think it will be a game changer.

The magnetic drawing board will be perfect for my daughter and I to get creative together as she will be just the right age to start doodling when the No Buy is over. I also just want one for myself to revisit childhood memories and make some low-effort art without the guilt of “wasting” paper!

Painting rocks is something I’ve really wanted to get into for a while now, especially because a local park we go to actually requests you paint rocks and leave them there! It doesn’t feel right to start now though, as I have so much paper to get through, and it really is advised to use a top coat to seal the rocks so they will last longer outside.

The button press machine is a big pricey investment, especially since I don’t plan on selling pins for profit, but it is something I have wanted for over 5 years. The first time I got to use one was at a pride festival and since then I have always thought it would be awesome to make my own pins and help others make some too!

The shopping list definitely soothes my anxiety about things I think I “Need To Have” because I know I can survive another 6 months without them and I won’t forget anything important. I can always add or remove items as my needs change as well. It gives me lots of time to think about the item and I won’t make any impulse purchases. I really think this shopping list is probably the thing helping me the most through this challenge so far, otherwise I may have slipped up (in a more serious way) by now!

I don’t really consider buying that stylus pen a true slip up because it was a genuine accident. I was rushing to get in and out of the Dollar Tree as fast as possible, I didn’t take time to look at the item thoroughly, and honestly my No Buy was the furthest thing from my mind that night. Accidents happen and there’s no point in dwelling on something so silly. Nonetheless I still found it important to hold myself accountable, I can learn from my mistake and avoid doing the same thing again in the future.

Recently I have decluttered even more art supplies that I haven’t touched the entire first half of this year, many of which suited my mom’s needs so they went to her. Anything else went to the local charity that will give them away for free to families in need. I started my minimalism journey in 2019 and since then I have come to believe if I am not using something it is selfish of me to hold on to it when someone else could be using it. I still tend to hold onto things for quite a while before deciding to get rid of them, because sometimes things do come in handy later on.

I find it incredibly rewarding to pass an item on to someone who will value it so much more than I do, especially because I understand exactly how it feels to be on the receiving end, I grew up very poor and the same charity I donate to now served me and my family back then. The markers I regretted buying probably made a huge difference in a child’s life, and because of that I no longer regret buying them. When I end up donating something I regret purchasing. I just keep in mind that it’s like buying a gift for someone else, and that puts my mind at ease. I won’t let the sunk cost fallacy keep me prisoner any longer!

In summary, so far so good. I look forward to finishing this year out strong, hopefully with no more accidents! I will not let one tiny mistake ruin all the progress I have made over these last 6 months. I hope the lessons I learn from this No Buy will stay with me through the rest of my life, and maybe I won’t have the need to do No Buys in the future. I already feel that I have learned a lot about myself, my art, and my shopping habits through the first 6 months of this challenge.

My next No Buy check-in will be in a few months, probably around the beginning of Autumn. There should be plenty of new posts between now and then, so I’ll see you in the next one. I hope you have a wonderful day!

I accidentally violated my No Buy rules… Oops!!

Today I bought a pack of two stylus pens from The Dollar Tree to use with my phone. Unfortunately, I overlooked the fact that they are actual pens as well. Since they actually work surprisingly well I am certain I will end up using them as pens too, making this the first and only art supply I have bought in 2022.

Hopefully I can avoid making any more mistakes like this for the rest of the year, but what is done is done so I will just keep on going! Might as well just enjoy the new shiny toys since I have them now, the only alternative is to donate them and that feels silly since they do what I needed them to do.

Just wanted to make a quick post to hold myself accountable. See you in the next one!

A summer without video games 🚫🎮

Starting today, June 1st, I will not be playing any video games until at least September 1st.

What’s this got to do with art? Quite a bit actually! This will free up more of my time and force me out of my comfort zone. I have done these “video game detoxes” three times before, and each time I made significantly more art during the “detox”.

Previously I did this because I found myself addicted to video games, I would play compulsively and neglect my real life responsibilities. This time is different, I have reevaluated my relationship to games and been playing much more responsibly for some time now.

However, I find myself bored and longing for different activities to fill my time. I would often reach for my phone to play Roller Coaster Tycoon Classic because it was the easiest thing to do, even though there were things I wanted to do more. I wouldn’t play for too long at a time and I would easily drop it to do something more important, I think I’ve just become burnt out on it and I haven’t been playing any other games lately anyway.

I’m writing this post to hold myself accountable, the more people I tell the less likely I’ll back out, just like with my Art Supply No Buy. Which come to think of it, I need to do a mid-year check-in soon! Stay tuned!

See you in the next one. I’ve got a fun post in my drafts that will be coming up soon 😊