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On branding and audiences

by Theo on February 7th, 2012
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As an artist and writer trying to break into the full-time creative person career path, I’ve spent a long time debating how to present myself on this blog and elsewhere. The thing I’ve done that’s made me the most money  so far is a coloring book that I’ve seen bloggers review as everything from “a sci-fi book for kids” to “a coloring book made just for grown-ups.” So, that book is kind of being shelved all over the place online, and meanwhile, I’m over here wondering if I’m scaring off parents who might buy the book for their kids by dropping F-bombs on Twitter.

Here’s the thing: my work ranges across a lot of age groups. I draw coloring books that are sort of incidentally kid-friendly. I write both YA and adult fantasy. I just finished inking a comic some friends of mine did for a porn anthology. I have two webcomics in planning stages that might come out in the next couple of years, one of which is collaborative and probably R-rated, the other just mine and PG-13 at the highest. Also, I swear a lot in my personal essays, because I fucking love swearing.

So, how to present myself here? I could play it safe, tone my language down, not talk about things like all of that satyr junk I just inked, and aim to keep this blog family-friendly and try to be a good example for the youngest age bracket of my potential audience.

But that’s not me.

I’m kind of like a giant, foul-mouthed five-year-old most of the time. I had ice cream sundaes for dinner two days in a row this week. I want to quit my stable day job and draw unicorns full-time. In a given week, I spend more time reading fan fiction than I do working on my homework for grad school. I have all the lyrics to Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok” memorized. I AM NOT A ROLE MODEL.

And more than that, I don’t like the idea of revising parts of my personality publicly to reach a certain audience. I’ve worked hard to become who I am today, and I’m proud of that person. (Maybe not so proud of her minor Ke$ha obsession, but y’know, everyone has their vices, and the video for “Blow” has unicorns so it’s totally relevant to my life.)

I’ve decided to stop worrying about appeasing any particular audience. If someone visits this blog and leaves because I swore or mentioned sexuality or used humor not fit for their six-year-old, that’s okay; they’re not my audience. And if someone rolls their eyes at my posts because I take glee in childish things and have a plastic stegosaurus as my assistant, well, they’re not my audience either. But I think there is an audience out there for me. Just me – unrevised and open and really this big a dork.

Here are some promises I can make to you, if you stick around:

1. All coloring books will remain G to PG in rating, although my goal is to make them enjoyable to grown-ups, too.

2. The content of this blog will likely stick around a PG-13 rating, mostly due to language, and will continue to be about everything from dinosaurs to queerness to book recommendations.

3. This blog will always be safe for work. When I work on a project that merits a rating above PG-13 (for example, this smut I just finished inking), I might talk about it but I won’t post explicit images or text from the project here. Any links leading to the project itself will have NSFW note by them.

4. I will do my utmost to be entertaining.

Now, if you don’t mind, I’ve got some unicorn sketches calling my name.

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  1. Leen permalink

    You’re so you most of the time that it startles me that anyone could be as themselves as you are. (The times when you’re not you is when you’re doing your dinosaurs-eating-tacos impressions).

    • Nicole permalink

      <3 (Even when I'm doing dinosaurs-eating-tacos impressions, it's still just a self-portrait of me. Dinosaurs and me, we've both got wee little arms.)

  2. Cienna2000 permalink

    I respectfully disagree about you not being a role model. I believe you are an excellent role model for being yourself, not allowing what others think to control you and for generally just being completely ossim.

    • Nicole permalink

      Well, thank you! I just polished off a fun size bag of Doritos for dinner because I was too invested in Tumblr to get up and go to the kitchen, but…thank you.

  3. But Nicooooole, you’re MY role model.

    • Nicole permalink

      But dear, you’re a grown-up! I can talk about satyr penises in front of you and nobody will come up behind you and clap their hands over your ears!

      I mean, you might clap your own hands over your ears. But that’s to be expected when the topic of conversation is satyr penises.

  4. 'Lista permalink

    You can be my kids’ role model anytime. I’m serious. Because cursing is a fact of life. I curse, you curse, the geese swimming in my pond curse…and the kids know that cursing exists. But so do conversations about dinosaur tour guides or kiwi birds who are being made to wear pants. And so does the honesty about life, love, and everything. Or just the honesty that we don’t have all the answers. And that…well, that is YOU.

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