Appraisals #2: A Series of Arbitrary Problems: CFz 2020 Talk

It's been a hot minute since the last Art Appraisal, and this one's gonna get a bit meta (go figure).

For CFz's online con in 2020, I took the plunge and did something I'd been wanting to for a very long time: I hosted a panel.

Finding a topic to talk about was a difficult task, and while I don't recall what other options I considered before settling on the one I went with, I know that my hesitation stemmed from feeling like I didn't have any "expert" insight that I could share - nothing I was especially good at that I could tap into my experience and knowledge of to impart to those attending.

So, perhaps rather appropriately, I decided instead to talk about the difficulties that I've dealt with as part of my work. I would host this talk barely half a year after I launched this site, and had also just spent a substantial amount of time grappling with Picarto, which seemed like plenty of material to go off of for an hour long show.

(Video Link) What I ended up with was a rather tell-all series of recent-at-the-time stories about something technical, something logistical, and something creative that I'd been dealing with in my career.

The video is quite long, but I strongly urge you to watch it through before reading on; especially if you're an artist yourself.

This post is effectively an appraisal of me talking about my own work.

I was reminded of this panel just last night, while talking about some closely related issues while in voice chat.

Another artist who was in the call was explaining to me how they’ve been struggling with being more open about the things they’re into, and listing off just about every single reason why I felt so repressed and was censoring myself back when I gave that talk.

My relationship with Chocolate, my first fursona, has evolved over the many years that I’ve had her. Quite frankly, it feels like she’s influenced me just as much as I have her, much as that influence led to the creation of Ruby, who then also had quite the dramatic impact on me soon after. I’d really like to make another dedicated post to delve into this in greater depth sometime, but not today.

Around the time when I first created Ruby, I felt stuck. I had been for a long time. I was grappling with a strong desire to be more open about my submissive side, which I’d been neglecting, but my only easy outlet for that was Chocolate. However, up until then I’d been trying to cultivate an image for them so that folks would see them as primarily dominant; a therapist, hypnotist, and caretaker above all else.

Unfortunately, some of my experiences (and frankly biases) led me to expect that, had I decided to show them being submissive and vulnerable, that would get undermined and people wouldn’t take me as seriously as a dom any more. I didn’t want folks to think, “Oh, It’s the character that was submissive that one time” and have that be Chocolate’s defining trait. I now realize the error in my thinking, but at the time this was a paralyzing idea.

Quite literally, Ruby happened – and helped me realize I was trans – because of my need to be more openly submissive.

Why is this relevant? Well, firstly it’s to highlight yet another creative way in which I stymied myself out of making things that made me happy – even though doing exactly that for everybody else had literally been my job for years even then.

Secondly, it’s to highlight yet another time where that was happening, a whole year prior to the one I spoke about in the panel; and it’s been happening to me again. Granted, this time it’s from a place of acknowledging my own progress and still wanting more – seeing all the ways in which I want to improve myself in my peers’ activities – but the sheer scale of possibilities and the commitment each of them would require is very intimidating from where I’m standing right now.

To put it simply, I’m still rather apprehensive of how some of the things I’d like to draw for myself might turn out, or be received, and it was quite the blow to hear myself giving advice from almost four years ago that I still don’t abide by as much as I ought to. However, over the years since that day when I realized that I genuinely couldn’t create any of my own ideas, I’ve been slowly building that confidence back up again.

The frustration I get from feeling unable to bring those ideas to fruition is mostly because I now know that I can do better.

I hope that the talk is of some use to you, or that you at least found it interesting to know a little more about what goes on backstage, at least when it comes to my own operations. My intention was to give more transparency in this way, and if you think you know someone who might find it helpful, please do pass it on to them.


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