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Studio Updates

Looking Backward To Go Forward: 2019 in Review

Looking Backward To Go Forward: 2019 in Review

by Callie Garp

January 01, 2020

I woke up this morning with the song Grown Ocean by Fleet Foxes playing in my head. Maybe that's not super strange, or maybe I have a brain tumor. Ok, yeah, I know it's not super strange. Fleet Foxes, especially their album, Helplessness Blues, performed the soundtrack of my final semester in college. I listened to that album for hours painting in the studio, driving half an hour from campus to the house my girlfriend (now wife) and I were living in / house-sitting in, while I was doing homework and when I was working in the social-justice org on campus. So, it was kind of funny to wake up with that song in my head, today, the first day of 2020. 

2019: The Hightlights Reel

I'm not going to lie. I have to refer back to my Instagram posts to remember the shit that happened this year. So many really, really big things happened in the last quarter of the year that it kind of blocks out the rest.

In January I decided that I would offer a limited number of custom illustrated portraits each month at a very low price in an effort to make my work as accessible as possible. This is just one example of the ways I am trying to make my work practice more intersectional, and it's something I am continuing to work on and think about.


February was a month dedicated to saying, "No". And also, "Fuck you". A large company reached out wanting to wholesale mugs with me. After a bit of run around, they switched their request to a licensing agreement, which I would certainly consider, since I've had successful & happy agreements with other companies. This company, which claims to be ethical and in support of indie artists/designers made me the most insulting licensing offer I think I've ever seen, and I am proud of myself for saying exactly that, without any hesitation. Interestingly, they never responded to my dissent. Shrug. At least I know their true politics and will never purchase anything from their website. 


In March, I did three custom portraits for the Veer Queer podcast (a Spectrum South production).


April was a pretty solid month for me: In April two of Ariana Grande's backup dancers picked my illustrations to show off on Instagram, thanks to my partnership with Self Care Is For Everyone.



So did Hannah Aylward


AND I announced that I would now be working with another company to produce most of my textiles, freeing up my time in the studio to focus on what I love most -- making feminist illustrations, and also giving me more time to just live my life. [read more about that here if you feel so inclined]

In May & June my wife and I kicked ass and took some serious names while we worked on our organic backyard garden. We planted three apple trees, created 6 new raised beds from scratch, planted an ecologically-focused flower bed running the full length of our yard, mulched like our lives depended on it, installed an entire drip line irrigation system and assembled (plus filled with plants) a large poly tunnel greenhouse.

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It’s Sunday. And I decided I’d show off my garden, in all it’s mess and chaos and early morning glory🌿 there’s still so much left to do, but my goodness it doesn’t remotely look like the same yard we found ourselves in just over a year ago. I spend all my spare moments out here, amongst the flowers, and yes, the rubble pile from tearing out the old sidewalk, and the dirt/weed slope where we still need to build that retaining wall. My garden makes me uncompromisingly happy to my core, even when I’m sore and sweating more than I have in my entire life 💦 here’s to everyone finding the small things that make them happy and following that feeling❤️ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . #weekendvibes #gardentour #backyardgarden #frontyardgarden #permaculturegarden #gardeningismytherapy #thisisselfcare #followyournature #growyourfood #growyourownveg #gardensofinstagram #foodnotlawns #ecofeminist #organicgardener #urbangardener #plantsmakepeoplehappy #plantsaremagic #plantsarelife .

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We went on vacation in July, visiting my family and just generally enjoying life in New Hampshire.


In August I started my new Fab Feminist Fav subscription box! So far I have featured: Caroline Ervin & Crisen Conger, Autumn Peltier, Megan Rapinoe, Jameela Jamil, and Greta Thunberg.

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Eeeek! I am so glad I can finally announce the conception of my secret project, the Fab Feminist Fav Subscription!!! (Due date quite soon, late August) This unique and fun subscription will celebrate folks who are kicking ass and taking names in the fight against patriarchy! Each month subscribers will get a 5x7” print, a 3” waterproof sticker, a fact sheet about the badass of the month and a personalized note from me because you’re awesome. . The first month is dedicated to celebrating the ladies of @unladylikemedia (and creators of Stuff Mom Never Told You) @cristenconger & @thecaroerv If you want to know more about the subscription, hop over to my studio blog, link in bio ❤️❤️❤️ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . #unladylike #stuffmomnevertoldyou #cristenconger #carolineervin #feministfaves #fabfeminist #subscriptionbox #stickersubscription #feministart #supportwomenartists #feministartists #badasswomen #subscriptionservice #feministquotes #feministaf #portraitdrawing #womenwhodraw #womenillustrators #womenofillustration #feminismart #feminismquotes #feministauthors #feministbooks #feministpride #feministwriters #feministandproud

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We also adopted our foster dog, Margot, in August, and scheduled a surgery for a painful growth on her leg to be removed. She was a major handful, but she has drastically improved since then.

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This bundle of fluff has officially joined our family. Yesterday we adopted our foster doggo Margot. She’s been very sick lately, and no one can know how much time she has left, but we do know we want to take care of her, love her and make her feel safe & happy. . Margot was carried into a rural PA shelter by someone who said he had found her wandering around. When she was left at the shelter she couldn’t really walk. When we met her there she had a serious flea infestation , was covered in urine and feces and was being kept in a small crate in the shelter quarantine room, which was also their stock room and medical supply closet. Twice a day they brought her outside for some sunshine. Shelters around here have very few resources and they were doing the best they could for her, but senior dogs in these environments have little hope of medical care appropriate to their age and condition and are rarely adopted. . Despite everything she has been through, Margot has the personality of a headstrong teddy bear. She’s social, sweet and loves everyone. She is also Lyme positive and has severe osteoarthritis, and has an old injury to a paw that has given her a lifetime of walking with a bad limp. . Our dog Joanna doesn’t love most dogs to be honest, but tolerates the ones we bring into our household because she’s obedient and mostly well behaved. With Margot she’s different. They hang out together in companionable silence like two ladies in straw hats taking in the sun. . All this is to say, if you think you have the ability to love and care for a senior dog, consider opening your home as a foster for your local SPCA or rescue. They deserve love and compassion after everything they’ve been through, and end of life care that’s comfortable and considerate. . . . . #gotchyaday #happyadoptionday #petadoption #adoptasenior #adoptaseniordog #fosterfail #fosterdog #fosterdogmom

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I also got to interview the badass ladies behind the Shibden After Dark podcast in August. If you haven't read this interview, do yourself a big old favor and do it NOW!

In late September my wife and I vended at the 2019 Bitchcraft Fair in Pittsburgh, which was both super duper fun and a really successful event for us.


What I didn't know at the time was that not only was I experiencing a particularly horrible period, but I also had a dangerously inflamed appendix. And so I spent all of October in and out of the hospital. More often in than out. More often drugged, in pain, and nauseous than not. The medical bills are bad enough, even with the extreme luck of circumstance that we happened to have two health insurance policies for the months of September and October. I can't imagine facing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of debt had we not had insurance. 

So, when November came around, I wasn't exactly ready to jump into my usual business-oriented Christmas fervor. I got a referral for a second opinion, changed surgeons, finally got positive results in my bloodwork and scheduled my appendectomy. Once I started to feel more like myself and a lot less like I was dying (I'm eventually going to write about my experiences, both good and bad, in the hospital and ER -- including have a JP drain inserted into my abdomen in a traumatic and painful procedure -- when some time and distance has given me the metal space to do so) I just wanted to dedicate that energy to some much needed self care.

One thing I'd been wanting to do for a long time, but hadn't been able to, was really celebrate Christmas. I'm not religious - in fact I'm an atheist, but I'm really, really into the whole winter holiday Yule/Santa Lucia Day celebration thing. I'm the kid of a Swedish immigrant, so I grew up doing lots of Swedish holiday stuff, with tons of baking and traditional Swedish holiday music galore. And this was going to be my year :) 

I won't bore you with all the details of home renovation (my wife and I moved my office upstairs, renovated our living room and dining room and finished a bunch of smaller projects in our kitchen) but when I would normally have been in full swing business holiday mode, I was instead prepping to host Christmas dinner at our house. Instead of long sleepless nights making t-shirts and drafting email advertisements, I was making garland for our deck and priming window sills.

This is not to say there wasn't stress this holiday season -- oh was there stress! But my wife and entire family agree that for this first time in five years, this Christmas, I was a whole person, engaged in living my life, not just a shadow person who only occasionally emerges from work to eat food, grunt words, and sleep in fitful naps now and again. 

This December, I gave myself permission not to vend at a holiday craft fair. Not a single one. In fact, I took an entire weekend off work (!!!) to celebrate my 30th birthday in Pittsburgh with my wife. 

In short, I gave myself permission to live my life, while still working and still meeting my responsibilities, but also being a much more well-rounded and generally happy soul. 

During this time of self-care and focus, I did start a fun collaboration with Brittany Jeltema of The Superhero Teacher, more details of which are soon to follow :)


Looking Forward To 2020

I am not one for resolutions, or for picking a word to focus on, or anything like that. But, I do like take time to reflect on where I've been and where I think I'm heading. Often those directions change, and the lessons I take from those reflections change, too. I was sitting with my wife yesterday, setting up my planner for 2020 and picking out which pages from 2019 I was going to keep. I read through my wish list for 2019, and was pleasantly surprised to see the things I had actually accomplished, and other things that I'd made a surprising amount of progress working towards.

This year I don't know that I have really big, concrete goals for my business. I think more than anything I'm taking the big lesson from the past few months in my personal life. Maybe it's because I've turned 30, or being so sick for so long made a real impact on me, but I just want to focus more on where I want to be in my life, and the kinds of experiences I want to have a human, than the dollars I want to earn each month. I want more holiday decorating and less holiday sales angsting. 



Callie Garp has a Masters of Fine Arts degree from Tufts University. Keep up with Callie here.


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