Instagram Inspirations: Diary Doodles ft. Frannerd, squarefetish, and Sharon Sordo

On my @atypicalnarrative Instagram account I tend to only follow creators. There’s something just so motivating about opening my feed and scrolling through the artwork of so many inspirational creators – it makes me want to keep learning and improving my work.

While the artists I follow create a diverse range of content, I thought it would be fun to highlight what I’ve noticed as the posts that excite me the most: diary doodles. 

My Instagram Inspirations: @squarefetish, @sharonsordo, @frannerd and their diary doodles
Note: The three characters above belong to their respective creators (@squarefetish, @sharonsordo, and @frannerd). I pulled the character designs, styles, and color choices from their Instagram to create this image. All credit goes to them.

The thing about diary doodles…

I absolutely love artists that create illustrations reflecting their own lives. While I definitely have an appreciation for imaginative work, I find that I’m much more likely to slow down and admire illustrations capturing everyday moments and observations in my feed. Why?

The autobiographical illustrations help “humanize” the artist. I think at times it’s easy to look at your Instagram feed (no matter what the content) and feel totally disconnected with the other contributors because they’re so creative or have great success or whatever. They can seem somewhat untouchable.

I don’t tend to have that issue with artists who create images reflecting their personal lives.

They may have hundreds of thousands of followers and my comment may get lost in the sea of others who are interacting with the post, but I still feel like I’m getting to know that artist as a person. Their personal illustrations feel like them telling me what’s been going on with their life lately.

I also find such content much more relatable and therefore conversation-inducing. I feel bad admitting this but when an artist does something like only post illustrations of sassy girls on their feed, I quickly run out of things to say. Yes, I love their style (why else would I be following them?) and admire their work, but I’m not one to be okay with just commenting “I love your work!” on every post. I want my comments to be meaningful, but I can find I don’t have much to say if a prompt isn’t provided.

When it comes to personal art, there’s usually a lot there that one can meaningfully connect with. Whether it’s the emotions expressed, moment captured, people involved, etc – one is bound to have something to say either about the artist’s illustration or how their personal experience connects to it.

Plus, I admire the ability of these artists to take everyday experiences and transform them into art. I tend to get wrapped up in the mindset sometimes that I have nothing to say because I’m not really doing much with my life. Thanks to artists like these those, I’ve realized that even the most simplest of things can be fun to draw and talk about, and it makes me appreciate everyday moments all the more.

The autobiographical artists I currently enjoy.

I think most people on the internet are aware of Fran and her work, but if you’re one of the few who haven’t stumbled across her artwork yet I highly recommend checking it out. Her content, whether it’s her Instagram illustrations or Youtube videos, have such a sense of authenticity to them that even though she’s never acknowledged my presence I feel like she’s a friend.

Ferne X is one of my favorite Instagram artists because not only does she produce content I love but she also responds to my comments (for some reason I feel like Instagram comments are really hit or miss compared to blogs). I love how a lot of her illustrations capture moments from her relationship as they’re definitely relatable and her sweet and fun personality makes up for her love of cats. (I’ve just realized all three artists I’ve featured love cats. Oh no.)

Sharon Sordo is an artist I found recently on Instagram. While she hasn’t consistently posted a lot of illustrations about her life like Fran and Ferne, I do love the ones she’s posted. Her style is really cute and the personality expressed through her illustrations is a lot of fun.

While the three mentioned above are my recent favorites, I do follow a lot of other artists on Instagram who either create comics about their lives or occasionally share doodles of themselves. Feel free to check them out as well: @__ubicilembu__, @zoesees, @cassandracalin, @angry_girlz_comics, @eledraws, @marloesdevee, @murrzstudio, @katnippillustration, @mrs.frollein, @sarahgraley, @_bigail, @margadraws, @karacandraw, @ana_oncina, @jamiesquire_, @planetprudence, @lorynbrantz@juliabernhardcomics, @bethdrawsthings, @sarahandersencomics, @cisforfrenchfry, @hannahhillam

How this work is inspiring me.

While I haven’t yet shared on them on the blog, I have started attempting to create more artwork based off of my everyday life. (If you’re following me on my various social media accounts you’re likely to have seen them there.)  It’s been a lot of fun reflecting on my days and using my experiences as inspiration, but I still feel like I have a long way to go.

For one, I’m not great at storytelling in my art. Sure, I can draw some images reflecting what went down, but finding the right moment to display and balancing my art with commentary is something I struggle with. Looking at my favorites above, I actually think I should encourage myself to write more with my personal drawings, but I do tend to find that my writing often annoys me in my work so meh, we’ll see what happens. It’s something I am continually trying to improve.

I also have to admit I’m not great with facial expressions. Part of the reason I love the artists mentioned above is their ability to capture multiple expressions that communicate the story they’re telling. I feel like for myself, my expressions either all end up the same or I draw a complete blank as to what a certain expression should even look like. (As of now, each of my diary doodles on Instagram are pretty much just me smiling, haha.) At some point in the next year I’d like to focus on capturing various expressions on my characters, so stay tuned for that.

And I think that’s it! What do you think about autobiographical artwork? Do you enjoy artists who create content about their lives, or do you prefer fantastical kind of work? What kind of Instagram content inspires you? Let me know in the comments below.

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The Stenning Wedding Ceremony | A reflection of our intimate backyard wedding

As mentioned in my latest recap, part of the reason I took a couple of months off the blog this summer was so that I could focus on getting married. That’s right – after five-and-a-half years of navigating a long-distance relationship and questioning if we could ever make this relationship work, Dave and I finally took the plunge and tied the knot. Yay!

Since I put so much time and effort into the planning of this wedding and it is undoubtedly one of the best days of my life, I thought it would be nice to highlight some of my favorite details and memorable moments.

Starting with the ceremony, here is a reflection of Dave and I’s intimate backyard wedding:

Being the control freak I am, I wrote plaigarised the entire ceremony. 

One of the best things about the officiant we hired was that he was pretty much open to anything and everything. He provided us with an outline of how ceremonies tend to go along with sample wordings we could pull from, but ultimately it was up to us to decide what was said and what order things happened in.

Now, I don’t know if most people realize this prior to planning their weddings, but ceremonies can be complicated things. I didn’t want to just use the generic samples provided for us but also didn’t want to create it from scratch so ended up spending hours googling and stealing all the things I liked from others. (I would’ve failed so bad if this were a paper for university.)

But hey, I did tailor everything to our specific relationship! I added elements here and there that made me smile (such as continuing to go on adventures together – both real and virtual) and created a theme that I feel is important to the future success of our marriage (not getting complacent just because we’re finally together).

We got married in my parent’s backyard under their beautiful giant tree.

Originally I wanted Dave and I to run off somewhere by ourselves to get married, but financially we decided it’d be better to have it at home so that’s what we did (which is a bit funny because I still managed to spend a lot of money on our wedding, I’m not sure it was that much cheaper).

We had the entire wedding in my parent’s backyard and it was actually pretty perfect. Their backyard is huge so we had plenty of space for everything we needed and the sole tree in the backyard ended up being a beautiful backdrop for our ceremony. All I did was add some ribbon streamers and an aisle runner and it was pretty much good to go. (Well, I did add like eight hundred other things too, but really, the streamers were my favorite. So colorful and fun!)

Our dads played “Concerning Hobbits” on acoustic guitars as I walked down the aisle.

Okay, I’m not going to lie, this was one of the things I was most excited for during our wedding ceremony (after marrying Dave, of course). As we were having an intimate wedding, there was no need for a huge wedding party; we decided it’d just be me walking down the aisle. And while I could’ve played some sweet song on my iPhone and had my dad accompany me like most brides do, I decided to go with something a bit different.

I had my dad and Dave’s dad learn “Concerning Hobbits” on their acoustic guitars and play it as a duet while I walked down the aisle. (And “Concerning Hobbits”, for those who might not know, is a song from Lord of the Rings which is a series that Dave and I both love, being the nerds we are.) For only being able to practice it once together before the big day (since, you know, they live in different countries), they played it beautifully on the big day and I absolutely loved it.

(Seriously, if you’re ever planning your wedding, don’t be afraid to make changes to reflect your relationship or what makes you happy. It’s so worth it.)

Dave was nervous about messing up the ceremony, but it was everyone else who failed.

One of the funniest things to me was the amount of pre-wedding stress Dave put upon himself out of fear that he’d mess everything up when he was the only one who did everything right!

The officiant made the biggest mistake and it’s one that anyone who knows me would facepalm at – he said my name wrong. That’s right. I always make a big deal about the proper way to pronounce my name, our officiant was no different, and yet our wedding started with him calling me “Ass-tea.” Of course I was quick to correct him. I didn’t care if everyone else knew the right way to say my name or if it created an awkward moment in the ceremony, there was no way I was going to continue letting him say my name wrong on my special day. So yeah, that was fun!

And yes, I made a slight fumble as well. Even though I put together the script and read it 800 times over before the big day, when it came to the “repeat after me” bit I ended up mixing up some words. But unlike Dave, I wasn’t bothered by the mistake. I’m not perfect and that’s okay.

Our moms acted as ring bearers and handed us the rings during the ceremony.

Since I involved our dads in the wedding ceremony by having them play their acoustic guitars, I wanted to find a way to incorporate our mothers as well. Since we didn’t have a wedding party, I decided to have the mothers responsible for the rings and to pass them off to us during the ceremony. It was slightly nerve-wracking as if there was anyone who would be likely to drop our rings in the rocks and lose them, it’d be one of our moms, but they passed them off with no worries. (I also had them sign our wedding license as our witnesses.)

For our unity ceremony, we decided to burn our ships.

Prior to meeting our wedding officiant, I had no idea what a “burning our ships” unity ceremony was. And, according to Google, it looks like barely anyone else knows of it either. But after hearing our officiant describe it and noticing the connections to our relationship, we decided it was the perfect unity ceremony for us.

According to our wedding officiant, the burning of the ships relates to Cortes. In 1519, he and his men arrived in Veracruz and he ordered them to burn their ships so they would continue their quest without any means of retreat. In the sense of our relationship then, the burning of our boats symbolized the everlasting commitment we were making to each other. We were, in a sense, burning any opportunities for leaving each other and assuring one another that we would fight together past whatever obstacles our relationship faced until the every end.

We also liked this unity ceremony because we felt it reflected our relationship in a couple of other ways. For one, Dave and I met on an online game where our characters were pirates. Burning our boats felt like a perfect tribute to our virtual beginnings (and yes, I even printed pictures of our pirates from the game and placed in them in boats to burn). Being able to set fire to our ships also helped symbolize the end of our long-distance journey. Though we never traveled by boats to visit one another as planes are much more convenient, the necessity of travel as played a huge part in our relationship up until now and with this wedding we are finally moving into a place where we will no longer need to rely on it.

 

Of course, burning our ships was a lot easier said than done.

Dave and I actually practiced lighting our ships the day before and had no problem, but of course things don’t always work out on the big day. The first big issue with burning our boats during the ceremony was that we forgot our lighters.

Now, don’t get me wrong, we had like six lighters purchased solely for that reason – we just forgot to set them up for the ceremony. So while our pastor was sharing the significance of our unity ceremony, I had to signal for my mom to run inside and grab the lighters. (Sorry for making you miss part of the ceremony, mom.)

Then, once we got the lighters and started attempting to light our boats, they would not catch on fire! The wind was a bit stronger the day of our ceremony and Dave and I probably spent five minutes awkwardly trying to light our fire while everyone watched. I mean, really, what does it mean when you create a unity ceremony which such significance and then your boats don’t burn? Haha.

But don’t worry, we got it mostly going before we continued on with our vows and by the end of the ceremony our boats were mostly burnt away.

And for some reason I decided to wave like royalty while exiting down the aisle.

One of the last things I want to mention, which is also one of the things I didn’t notice until we received our pictures back from our photographer, was that I decided to do some sort of princess wave while walking back down the aisle with Dave at the end of our ceremony. Seriously, if you had any doubt that I’m an awkward fool…

I think that’s it! Those are my favorite details and most memorable moments from the ceremony. What do you think? Are there any parts of our ceremony that took you by surprise or made you laugh? Please share in the comments below! And if you want to see some photographs from our wedding instead of my little illustrations, follow me on Twitter. I’ll share some from our photographer throughout the week. 🙂

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Loving a dog, boogers and all | A celebration of Mad

As I mentioned in my catch up post, over the summer I had to unexpectedly say goodbye to my thirteen-year-old dog, Mad. (Because, you know, losing one dog this year wasn’t hard enough, I had to lose two.) In honor of his memory, today I wanted to share a bit about the dog Mad was. Not because it’s interesting content that you’ll want to read, but because I don’t want to forget all the things that made him special – and believe me, there were many things.

Mad wasn’t afraid to tell you when he was mad. Okay, yes, let’s first talk about this name. If I remember correctly (it’s been over a decade), Mad received his name after adopted because he never held back his grumbles when we were trying to get him to do something he didn’t want to do.

I was actually somewhat terrified he was going to bite me or something when I first heard his low, grumpy growl, but I quickly learned he was all talk and no walk. He would tell you he was mad, but then he’d just deal with it. (And honestly, thanks Mad for that. I’m glad you never bit my face off.)

What were some of the things he got mad about? Well…

Mad hated non-carpeted floors. You know that game you play as a kid where you pretend the ground is lava and hop from one piece of furniture to the next? That was life for Mad. He wouldn’t go into a room unless there was some piece of carpet to run on to, and even then it took him a lot of courage. It was so bad that one time the vet even had to rearrange all the carpets in the lobby in a row to create a path for him to the examination room because he refused to walk on the tile.

He also really disliked car rides. That whole image of the dog happily sticking its head out the window with the wind blowing through its hair? Definitely not Mad. Any time we had to take him somewhere, he would lay down in the backseat with his head hanging towards the ground and just cry. It was absolutely pathetic. I would do my best to comfort him but the silence would never last more than a minute. He hated it.

That being said, he did pass away in the car while we were rushing him to the vet so maybe he spoke to a fortune-teller dog and knew a trip in the car would lead to his goodbye. Either way, his tragicness in the car always broke my heart (and drove me a little crazy).

But when he wasn’t being mad, Mad loved everyone. I think between the name and his size people were automatically hesitant around Mad, but they had absolutely nothing to worry about. Mad loved anyone and everyone. He let the grandkids walk all over him, he enjoyed when we had company around, and we always joked he would have no problem just getting up and joining a new family because he didn’t care who loved him he just wanted to be loved.

He especially wanted your attention if you were loving Tasha. Really, Mad wanted anything Tasha had. If I gave them both bones, he would stare at Tasha until she gave up her bone instead of eating his. And if someone was petting her? He would use his larger size to push her aside and burrow under your arm instead. It’s no wonder Tasha didn’t always love having him around.

(Oh, and that burrowing thing? I’m pretty sure he was part ostrich. He really shoved his face into whatever crevice he could… couch cushions, armpits, etc. Sometimes you had to save yourself from the inappropriateness.)

As far as I’m concerned, Mad was one of the most handsome dogs around. I never necessarily set out for a husky-type dog, but whatever Alaskan-Malamute mix Mad was absolutely gorgeous. I loved that he was like a giant stuffed animal and that his markings framed his face. He was just so handsome!

Well, he was mostly handsome… apart from the boogers. You see, when we adopted Mad he was mostly fine. But at some point in the first couple of years I took him for a walk, he shoved his head into a bush, and he became broken. I don’t know if he got a stick lodged into his head or suddenly developed allergies (we spent SO much money trying to sort it out before we finally just accepted it as part of our lives), but after that walk Mad became a booger dog. If the weather would drastically change or he’d get too excited, out would appear a booger.

And you know the best part about a dog with boogers hanging out of his nose? Those boogers would have to end up somewhere. I would try to get them with a napkin when I could, of course, but that didn’t always work out. Sometimes he would sneeze them on to walls, trail them across clothes, or, especially in the end, would lick them out of his nostril. They say you love your kids no matter what and I guess that’s true because I saw that dog eat so many boogers in his life but still somehow loved him unconditionally.

Oh, and let’s not talk about his other struggles. Poor Mad. There was always something. Not only did he have boogers, but his arthritis bothered him a bit the last few years (watching/hearing him struggle to lay down was absolutely heartbreaking) and he also went through a toe cancer scare. (We actually sent him into get his toe decapitated as that was recommended but they then decided it was a false alarm. Talk about an emotional rollercoaster.)

He also wasn’t the brightest dog ever. Honestly, sometimes you couldn’t help but look at him and wonder if there was absolutely anything going on in that doofy head of his. Compared to the sneakiness of his sister, he was always just so… aimless. When we’d go on walks, he would plow straight ahead without actually taking in the environment, like his brain power was consumed entirely by walking forward. When he’d have to poop on his walks, he would choose to do it in the middle of the road because doing so in the grass would just be too logical. And when he’d get caught having an accident in the house, he would continue to relieve himself while walking towards the door, leaving a lovely trail of pee, instead of stopping and continuing outside.

But hey, he had his moments of intelligence! Honestly, one of my proudest moments as a mom was teaching him to shake his paw in the last few years of his life. I am pretty sure I had tried teaching him to do it when he was younger but gave up on him because he seemed so hopeless at times. It took a while to get there in his senior years, but we eventually got it and I was so proud. You can teach an old dog new trick! Even doofy ones like my Mad boy!

And let’s not forget, he was also a beautiful singer. Mad loved to sing to one song in particular: The Two and a Half Men theme song. I don’t know what it was about the song, but every time he’d hear it his ears would perk up and he’d start howling along with the tune. (It probably didn’t help we’d sing “Mad, Mad, Mad” instead of “men, men, men”.) To this day, every time I hear that song of TV I automatically start singing the Mad version in my head which both makes me smile and breaks my heart at the same time.

Honestly, Mad was pretty much the opposite of Tasha in every way. He wasn’t super loyal, he wasn’t sneaky, he didn’t want to eat anyone… but I think all those differences in personality made me love him even more. He wasn’t the perfect dog, but he was my dog, and I came to love every little thing about him.

I wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye to him, but I’m glad I was able to hold him in my arms and tell him how much I loved him as he passed away. I’m glad he won’t have to struggle anymore with all the issues he had in life and I’m happy for his sake that he gets to be reunited with Tasha (though I’m not convinced she’d be quite as thrilled about their quick reunion).

To some people dogs are just dogs, but to me they’re so much more than that. They’re family members with unique personalities, a huge capacity for love, and a great source of happiness and comfort. My life would’ve been much less without them.

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