Now that it’s the end of the year, many people have been posting their “best nine” - their nine most “liked” Instagram photos from 2017. As I reflect on the year, some of my “best nine” could also fit under “worst nine” because life is funny like that. In that spirit, here are some of the many things that shaped 2017 for both Kwohtations and me personally. They’ve blended together a bit, kind of like when you spend too much time with someone that you really like. Here goes:
You and all of your support - thank you for listening and bearing witness; for sharing your ideas and life experiences; for dropping by to say hi during markets or through social media; for supporting the business and keeping it up and running; for sending / wearing / using art out in the world, as it is meant to be; and for making the world a more interesting, vibrant place just by being in it.
Kept Kwohtations alive, because sometimes it’s harder to continue working on something than to start something new. Kwohtations has been my side hustle for six years to the day - I opened my Etsy shop on December 31, 2011 ( which tells you what a wild, raucous life I lead). Running even a small creative business on the side of a full-time job is hard. Running a business while just trying to do life is hard.
Spending Saturday nights ironing tote bags, or sitting outside for 10 hours trying to sell paper goods in the rain, or trying to figure out expense categories from the IRS website is not particularly fun or inspiring. And yet, for reasons still inexplicable to me, Kwohtations continues to be an outlet; a platform; a reason to get out of bed; a source of purpose and pride; and a way to get to know people, places, and myself in ways I don’t think I would otherwise.
The letterpress studio continues to be sanctuary, where there is nothing to do except spend time with two of my favorite humans (who are also amazing artists) and crank out little cards on a big press.
Made new things that I hadn’t planned to - like a unicorn wearing a strap-on. I’ve long felt like I stumbled into making cards - sure, I could carve and paint small people out of linoleum and letterpress simple words onto square cards, but it felt like that was the limit of what I could do as an artist. This year, I gave myself permission to do and share something different, even if I didn’t know what or how.
The result has been liberating, and opened up so many more ways to play with and present ideas and sentiments that I couldn’t within the constraint of a greeting card, and the opportunity to put art on everything from bandanas (I swear they’re coming back into style) to bus stops.
Moved to Brooklyn to be closer to my chosen family, who are pretty much the only reason I’ve made it through anything in life. It took me six years to finally make the move, but I did it so I decided that’s what counts. One of the things I miss most about Somerville is the community of store owners, makers, and supporters there that Kwohtations has introduced me to, who have made the journey of building up a creative business a little less confusing and far less lonely. I’m both excited and daunted by the prospect of being and growing in a new city, as both a person and a business.
Continued to grieve in a tangle of rage and regrets, but mostly just sadness that runs underneath all of the art and activities and food put on top of it, which every so often erupts to overwhelm everything else. But I’m learning how to live and change with it, and am trying to become a better, rather than worse, person for it.
Had many feelings, among which, I realized that though it feels like it has been put through a meat grinder, wrung out, and then pummeled into an unrecognizable state, my heart has retained the capacity to love - and love deeply - and in some ways, it can’t help but. I’ll have to think of a card for that.
Also, I just finished a month-long, outdoor holiday pop-up shop that is chock-full of experiences and learnings that I’m still digesting (and thawing out from). And I bought myself a label maker.
Cheers to 2018.