Creating Through Complex Feelings Anti Standard #20 with Teddy Took Over

“Nowadays I still use art a coping tool, but also as a way to foster connection with others through radical vulnerability.”


T+P: Tell us a little bit (or a lot) about your journey as an artist

T:  Growing up I made art as often as possible, with just about anything I could get my hands on to be honest. Initially, art just served as an escapist technique to survive the turbulence I was surrounded by; I grew up poor and with an unstable home life, but thankfully I had the privilege of attending a ‘free school’ for a few years, where I was allowed to explore my creativity in a lot of non-conventional ways. That school is where I developed my love for mixed-media and found objects that I still incorporate into my art now. Theater & poetry were my first big creative pursuits, but I developed pretty severe stage fright in high school so I started focusing more on Fine Arts instead. At age 19 I went to art school for Studio Arts (because I thought I had to), but ultimately dropped out because the world of ~Fine Arts~ frankly sucked my soul. 

Before I learned how to feel safe being vulnerable online, I would even go so far as to incorporate secret messages in text disguised as patterns in my art. Nowadays, I still use art as a coping tool but also as a way to foster connection with others through radical vulnerability. Creating helps me process some of my complex feelings around disability, loss, and trauma that I otherwise struggle to communicate.

T+P: Where/how has art allowed you to further understand your own journey?

T: Well I’m autistic and I have a mild form of Alexithymia, so my art often serves as a retroactive way to interact with the feelings that I can’t understand in the moment. For example, a lot of my art centers around my experiences with dissociation, but I didn’t realize that was what I was experiencing until I went to therapy and received a diagnosis after the fact. I also have memory loss associated with my disability, so I appreciate having my art journals to look back on as a time capsule of where I was at the time that I made it. Making art is my favorite way to connect with my journey as a person so far, and I imagine it’ll always be that way.

T+P: Describe your most cherished memory you have that art has brought you?

T: Honestly it feels impossible for me to pick just one memory, but what comes to mind is all of the opportunities I’ve had to connect with other artists and community members. Whether it be a collab, an art challenge, or an art trade, getting to meet and work with other LGBTQIA+ and/or disabled creatives online has provided a safe space that I hadn’t ever had before. My art has given me a way to connect with my community. 

T+P: Tell us a little (or…a lot!!) about your experience selling your work!

T: This has always been one of the most challenging parts of my artistic process to be quite honest. Between my physical limitations and income restrictions set by benefit providers, it simply isn’t an option for me to pursue art as a career. 

That being said, right before COVID-19 hit here, I did a soft launch on a sales page on IG, and I opened an Etsy shop that I never launched. Now I’m unsure how I want to move forward because I’m vulnerable in terms of the virus, so it’s hard for me to safely get to a post office without transportation even if I wanted to risk it (which I don’t). Long story short is that I don’t know how to sell my art rn. I’m looking into my options, but I’m also really enjoying the freedom to just create for the sake of creating. I also have a project coming up where the profits will be donated to bail funds, and I plan to continue making art for a cause instead of for personal profit.

T+P: Tell us about your favorite piece you’ve created this far, and take us on your artists process, ie: what was it like to make this piece?

T: Well, I’m not entirely sure if a whole junk journal counts as one “piece”, but it is the artistic endeavor that I’m the most proud of finishing! The reason that it’s my favorite piece so far is also to do with the process, because it tied in all of my different skills into one small book. 

I built the book from completely from scratch, down to the cover which was made out of one of my mom’s old T-shirts & an old cereal box. In total it took me over two years to finish the journal, and it incorporated painting, resin art, drawing, found objects, upcycling, and collaborations with my friends. It wasn’t hard to gather enough things to fill it, because I’m sort of a compulsive hoarder of all things shiny and/or nostalgic, I suppose it just took time to decide how to arrange it all. I’ve always been the friend that keeps every photo or ticket stub, and this journal is sort of a physical manifestation of that. 

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