Dear SEPTA Train Passengers,
QR Code Link to This Post
Hi there. You may have seen me: I'm the chick with the sketchbook that sometimes sits next to you, or near you, on the train to and from work every day. You may notice me wrestling my sketchbook out of my backpack, earnestly trying to get some work done on the bumpy ride into or out of the city. You may have even politely craned your neck to see what it was I was drawing. How you doin'.
Because we live in a polite society populated by less than polite people, I'm going to share a few things with you, of which you may not already be aware. These items may or may not apply to other artists, under other circumstances, so I can't say for sure. You may find these insights helpful. Feel free to take notes, or print them out, but whatever course of action you decide to take, please do try to follow them from this point forward.
1. It's OK to talk to me.
I'm a nice person, but I'm also pretty quiet. You're more than welcome to say hello to me, ask me if I'm a professional artist or art student (I'm not, but thank you for thinking I might be!) or comment on my work. I can even take criticism, as long as you're not being a jerk. If I don't continue the conversation, it's probably because I'm really shy, or because I'm trying to draw.
2. It's not OK to talk to me TOO MUCH.
I have a 30 minute commute each way. In that we've already covered the "I'm not a professional artist or art student" portion of this post, you can assume that I do not spend the entirety of my day drawing. In fact, those precious 60 minutes of commute time are the only time that I have to actually get in some drawing, and improve my skills.
I am usually happy to answer your polite questions, and even joke with you in a friendly manner, but it becomes very frustrating to me when your "talking" time infringes upon my sketching time.
3. Don't be offended if I don't make eye contact
See #2. Sometimes, no matter how often I say, "I really only have enough time to draw on the train", people just can't take the hint, and launch into lengthy, detailed, often horrifyingly revealing conversations with me. As yet, I have not been able to find a polite way to excuse myself from these conversations, except to resume my drawing, and hope that they will not want to converse too much with the top of someone's head.
4. Do not ask too many questions about what I'm drawing.
This often becomes embarrassing for both of us, and tiring for me. You don't know how many times I've heard, "Is that a guy? Are you drawing a guy? Is that someone you know? Is that your boyfriend? What is he holding? Is that a golf club? Is he a golfer? Are you drawing Tiger Woods? This one time, my Dad met Tiger Woods..."
Please stop. If you want to know what I'm drawing, you can ask me once, and end it. If you want to know what I'm GOING to draw, just shut up and let me fucking finish it, or I will beat you with my sketchbook.
I am a decent artist, so if you try to guess TWICE what I'm drawing, and get it wrong both times, you're either being an asshole, trying to embarrass me, or are a complete fucking moron, and I'm really regretting having chosen the seat next to you.
5. I am not holding a turd
The lumpy gray thing that I have in one hand is called a Kneaded Eraser. When you buy it, it starts out like a 2" x 1" gray square, and you have to work it and knead it with your hands. It's much more gentle on paper than a hard rubber eraser, and when it gets dirty you just knead it until you get to a clean part.
It is not a piece of turd. When I take it out, you don't have to gasp in horror and inch away from me like I'm going to rub gray feces all over you.
6. Do not take my polite replies to your questions as an invitation to convert me to any given religion.
It's alarming how many conversations go like this:
"You're a very good artist."
"Thank you very much."
"It's really a talent."
"It's really a blessing to have that kind of talent."
"Have you welcomed Jesus Christ into your heart for blessing you with such talent?"
You know what religion I am? I'm the religion that doesn't discuss God with freaky people on the train who can't identify what conversations are inappropriate for complete strangers. I regularly attend the church of Please Leave Me The Fuck Alone Already, Lady.
7. I am not a babysitter
I don't always draw from "real life", sometimes I draw illustrations and cartoons. Just because you see a cute, fuzzy animal emerging from my pad, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do not use it as a way to distract your child from climbing all over you, the seats, and other passengers, like a shrieking primate.
"Look Billy! Look what she's doing! Billy, get off that man's lap and come here -- see what she's doing? Isn't that pretty, Billy? Why don't you ask her what she's drawing? Maybe if you ask nicely she'll draw something for you. Just sit still and watch her for awhile so Mommy can sob quietly into her hands."
As uncomfortable as it is for me to have to talk to people while I'm drawing, it's DOUBLY SO to have to do it while your little hellion is bouncing up and down on the seat next to me or -- worse yet -- sticking his face three inches away from the paper while I'm drawing. I am not a babysitter. I don't even like children. Seriously -- go Google the world "Childfree", and I promise that you'll never want your child anywhere near me, ever again.
If you insist on using me as a ready-made distraction so you can get two minutes of not wanting to shoot yourself in the uterus, I'm going to turn the page and immediately start drawing the nastiest, most explicitly pornographic picture I can think of, all for your little snotmonkey's entertainment.
8. No, I'm not drawing Simba / Lady / Tramp / Nemo OR ANY OTHER CHARACTER.
I know who you are. You're the guy who takes his kids to the zoo, points at the lion, and goes, "Look, honey, it's SIMBA AND NALA."
This is going to come as a shock to you, but Disney is not the end-all be-all of all entertainment. Just because I'm drawing a lion does not mean that I'm drawing "The Lion King." Just because I'm drawing a dog does not mean it's "Lady and the Tramp."
I am by no means a great artist, but I am GOOD, and certainly good enough to draw easily recognizable animals and figures (my biggest problem is anatomical perspective, not drawing things that are easily identifiable. I got that down quite awhile ago.) If I'm drawing a collie, or a poodle, or a whippet, it looks like a collie, a poodle or a whippet, it does not look like a cocker spaniel. Just because I'm drawing ANY BREED OF DOG does not mean I must be drawing "Lady."
And if I tell you no, it's not "Lady", it's just a dog, it's not OK to pause for five seconds, and then ask, "...Is it Tramp?"
It is also not OK to wait an additional five seconds and ask, "Can you draw me a picture of Lady and the Tramp?"
I swear I will stab you in the face with my pencil.
9. I am neither a priest nor a psychiatrist.
If you start talking to me, and insist on dragging it out into an entire, excrutiating conversation, please try to keep it topical. Please do not start telling me about your last ObGyn appointment, body hair problems that you have, or the condition of your last bowel movement. Seriously. I'm talking to you because I'm really trying to be nice, not because the grotesque details of your life actually fascinate me.
I think that about covers it! I don't know if any of this will actually help any other artists out there, but it's certainly gone a long way towards help me not want to kill people anymore.
Thank you, Philadelphia!