August 25, 2014

Growth spurt.

When I was busy blinking, the fourteen-year-old boy grew. Again.

Looks like we're going to have to go shopping for some back-to-school clothes. Should I get two sizes larger than he needs?

August 23, 2014

The Great Ice Bucket Challenge Dilemma.

Everyone's deep in discussion about whether or not viral fundraising is cool or uncool. Well, it's been weeks and no one has nominated me to dump ice-water on my head for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

Am I so unpopular? Do I smell funny? Am I...invisible? I sit and watch all the epic Ice Bucketeers getting doused and I feel somewhat left out.

To wait or not to wait...? That's the real dilemma.

Animated ice is c-c-c-c-cold.

I don't have a lot of extra right now, but hey, I'm doing fine without wine, so I can probably live without a few other things. Here's where my money went:
ALS Canada
MS Society Of Canada

If you have something to give, however small, remember that every little bit helps. You never know when you, or someone you love very much will be struck by a debilitating illness such as ALS or MS.


August 21, 2014

"I'm not a racist, but..."

I've noticed in real life, and on the net, that many people, white people, have no idea how to call out racism. I even hear them asking for help on this.

So I drew a little exercise to help folks explore the possibilities of what you might say to someone who is saying racist things.

Is it offensive to call white people 'whities'? There you go.

I invented the above situation. But most people have heard something similar said by someone they know.

What do you say to racism?

Note: Racism comes in all colours; I'm addressing white people who freeze in the face of it. 

August 15, 2014

Visual Storytelling - 6 reasons why stories with pictures are awesome.

I spoke in a panel at BlogHer14, called "Developing Your Visual Voice". My segment was about eighteen minutes pulled from my workshop on Visual Storytelling. The response was positive enough to follow up with a more in-depth "how to" series here on my blog. I am nice.

Let's get started.

Why should we tell stories with pictures?

1. Welp. The world is full of noise.

If you're doing business, if you're an educator, or an independent artist, writer or blogger; if you're content marketing in any way, images will help you stick out of the pile.

There's a lot of bloggers out there - not a lot of them draw. And NO ONE draws like you (whether you think you can draw or not).

2. Stories will pictures have sticky-power. People have short attention spans - they often skim rather than read.

I'll bet you're reading this.

So putting your message into pictures is a perfect way to be instantly seen...

...and remembered. And shared.

Hurrah for sticky-power!

3. Be instantly recognizable. Use certain colours and styles consistently to establish your visual voice. Remember that visuals add your personal touch to any kind of media. Some folks call this 'branding', but it really means you being 'you'. Know who you are.

Your "look" should be visible on all your social media platforms, your audio-visuals, PowerPoint presentations and your print media.

4. Pictures are empathy triggers. They grab people and make them feel something. The more personal your drawing is the better, i.e. if you draw it yourself, then you're using your own authentic visual voice.

And if you can engage on an emotional level, it becomes a two way conversation.

You talk to them and they talk back - people like to be heard, it makes them feel good. We all want to feel that we are a part of the story.

You can capture the hearts and minds of your audience with visual storytelling.

But that's not all. These four points contribute to one great result:

5. Drawing is good for your brain. Whether you draw it yourself or hire someone else to draw it for you, being able to think and express yourself visually will make you a better communicator and a better storyteller.

6. Duh. Stories with pictures are fun. You can put things in drawings that enhance a story and add layers of meaning. Visual storytelling is value-added.

I mean, which book would you go for?

Next up in this series: simple digital tools. 

August 7, 2014

Epic #toonswag at #BlogHer14.

I started toonswagging at my first BlogHer in 2012, and in the past two years, have collected nearly 100 souls, no other way to describe it. I probably have enough for a book.

There is nothing quite like plucking a face from the crowd and drawing them right there on the spot. True, the drawings are simple, but I do try my best to gather the features that sparkle and infuse them into a nuance of line. People don't sit still for long at a conference, so I have to be quick.

And so it was with Teneshia Jackson-Warner, the Morning Keynote for BlogHer's Pathfinder Day. What an extra-ordinary woman. Her path from volunteer to Hip-Hop mogul Russell Simmons to founding the award-winning marketing firm Egami is truly remarkable. She's got the focus of a laser.
Tenacious with a capital T-E-N-E-S-H-I-A-S.

I was lucky enough to be thrust in front of her by my friend Alexandra (scroll down) and someone named Isabel, who turned out to be AlphaMom (I had no idea, holy fark-a-doodle, I am so ignorant). Anyways, thanks to them I was able to show Teneshia the toonswag and she said she'd send it to her mom. I only send my mom drawings of me that I like, so I guess that's all good.

This is Linda Roy, who won a Voice Of The Year (VOTY). She's a friend from the Aiming Low NonCon, blogger at Elleroy Was Here and co-founder of the burgeoning Lefty Pop site for smart people. She's also the magical embodiment of rock and roll, when it settles down and has a family. I've been wanting to draw Linda's face forever, so it was like my hand already knew what to do.
Instant Rock: just add ukulele.

Jenny Lawson really needs no introduction. She was the Opening Keynote for the conference itself, and even though she's super famous, she comes across as refreshingly real. The Bloggess is one of the few speakers I've seen who can monologue without plummeting into the abyss of ego and conceit. Here she is, corpse hair in place, and also, slightly on fire. Because why not?
"Don't be mean." Wise words from Jenny.

Normally I ask people's permission to post their toonswag, but in this case I was just too shy to line up and see her at the book signing. Shy and embarrassed about those times I wrote to her asking her to write a blurb for my books. SORRY, THE BLOGGESS! Public figures get toonswagged sometimes! (I will totally take this down if you hate it though. Please don't sue me.)

Aliza Worthington, from The Worthington Post and other publications. She accosted me I bumped into her on an escalator last year and we just clicked. Then we spent a year clicking on the Internet and became Friendlies. She's got a very powerful Red Pen and won't hesitate to use it on your writings if you are an ignoramus.

Hilarious, intelligent and insightful, a writer (and vlogger - see Don't Take Viagra) to watch for; Aliza I love your face.
I met, and hugged, Roxanne Piskel from Unintentionally Brilliant. She's one of the people I talk with regularly on social media, but when you find that person standing in front of you in the realzies, the relationship changes and becomes something new. I was looking into her lovely face, all shy giggles and enormous brown eyes and I was thinking, there's a lot of layers of sensitivity here. I recommend you read her take on BlogHer14; it's pretty raw, and very well written.
She may try to steal your shoes.
Every time I turned a corner at the conference, I would see Christine Harkin (of Napttime Writing). She and I were gravitating to the same tables at all the keynotes. Either that or she was stalking me. 
When I bumped into her last year, we had apparently already spent some hours together hitting on entertaining unsuspecting sponsors at the Expo Hall the previous day. But I remember none of it because I had The Drunkies, which she was kind enough to point out, by saying, "You were really drunk last night". Yes folks, I was that blogger. Christine had unknowingly tripped over my 'secret' elephant, and in so doing, shifted me a little closer to this side of the line. I owe her a debt of gratitude for it.
"I'm sorry but women apologize too much." 
I love that. Her no-bullshit style is so cool...and smart. And there we were on a really big bed at Deb Rox's Queerosphere party. How could I not draw Christine? She is part Elf. 

Arianna Huffington, media-maven...interviewed by Guy Kawasaki, tech-evangelist, for the lunchtime Keynote....could you not find two more social-media-savvy personalities BlogHer? Seriously. Guy asked questions knowing full well that Arianna wasn't going to answer them. It was extremely amusing.
Sleep is easily recommended from a point of privilege.
So she talked about her new book, Thrive, insisting that the key to a happy and successful life is simply to get more sleep. TELL ME SOMETHING I DON'T KNOW ARIANNA.

Canadian (like moi) Julie Nowell blogs at Three Chickens And A Boat. She is much taller than I am. We know this because she bent down and smiled at me at Blissdom in Toronto last autumn. She said, 
"I think you are lovely". 
And I believed her. You see how easy it is to make people happy? 

Julie sat cross-legged on the floor in the hallway so I could draw her. She is so nice.
Two chicks and a house.
She has a baby chick and it is the cutest thing ever. Baby animal videos rule. Animators figured that out a long time ago, thanks to Mr. Disney. 

Sometimes people message me privately and ask me to illustrate their book. Tammy Soong, from World's Worst Moms, was one of these people. I told her, "No way Tammy. You can illustrate your own book".  To which she replied, "You've got to be fucking kidding me," or something along those lines. 

To cut a long story short, I gave her a little push and the next thing you know she's illustrating her blogposts and winning VOTY's. It was a proud moment to see my mentee on stage and reading her illustrated post "First Reason Not To Get A Tattoo: Your Mom Probably Has One" in front of several thousand people. I teared up! Even when her images came out of order (I live in fear of this), Tammy shone, rescuing the funny out of a very stressful moment by clicking furiously through all the drawings. Can you say "animation"? Read about it here.
Plotting world domination, obviously.
Tammy is one third of my favourite podcast, The Blogging Betties - you can see more of her hilarious art flourishings over on their blog. (WARNING: If you ever meet Poppy Marler, make sure you're wearing steel-toe boots. She's an uninhibited toe-cracker. *shakes tiny fist at Poppy*).

You can go anywhere in the world and find an #UsGuys. Marla Schulman and I met online through this great group of mostly-social-media-marketers. After missing a conference in Arkansas last year due to a...uh, visa malfunction, it seemed like Marla and I might never meetup IRL.  
I turned around and saw her running towards me. Hurrah for BlogHer! 
The Divine Ms. M.
Marla is an Idea Generator. Drawing her in person, I couldn't help but be impressed with her confidence - we are really similar in that we both have creative minds and producer skills. And we are also both extremely sexy, but you guys knew that.

Here's a surprize: it's Lucy Ball, from My Life As Lucille! We finally met at BlogHer but I didn't have a chance to draw her because my iPad kept dying. So this is a Latertoonswag. Which is just like a Latergram on Instagram, only toonswagged. I'm making this up as I go along. Hurrah!
"The Bloggess signed my boob."
Oh yes she did.
I am pretty sure Lucy looked just like this when she saw this drawing. #animated
And finally, Alexandra Rosas of Good Day, Regular People. Super-fricken talented writer. VOTY Winner and 10X10 Speaker. All the feels and so much heart. She's a blogger's blogger...and she's my friend. 

Following her around the Expo Hall like a baby sister, we stopped in front of The Mrs mirror-thingie. I put the headphones on and stared at my reflection as Alexandra whispered to me from inside the booth. She said wonderful things. Things that she'd gleaned from reading between the lines of my blog. Things that are difficult to listen to, because for some reason it's hard to take a compliment. I had to blink a lot.
The Empress.
She would not let me reciprocate, insisting that it was a one-way-deal. But I would like to say this to you now, if you're reading this Alexandra: you make me want to give. Making people want to give is a gift. Thank-you. And thank-you for saying "terror shits" on stage at the VOTY 10X10. That was awesome.

*     *     *     *     *
There's one waiting for you.
Is it feasible to sell a toonswag book? There's gotta be a way to harness #toonswag for a good cause... I'm thinking of hooking up with a sponsor and a charity and doing a three way cross-promo: Postpartum progress? Cancer research? Multiple sclerosis? Your input please.