three 'trauma sketchbooks' opened showing drawings.
My trauma sketchbooks


In the last week or so, my mood has plummeted down into the realm of depression. I have many reasons to be as there is much to grief. I have had quite a lot of past sexual abuse flashbacks in the last two weeks, and I am in the process of grieving the person I could have been. On top of that, the news of Leo Grasset - a French YouTuber who does scientific vulgarisation - abusing women has upset me and reminded me of my former abusive ex (more flashbacks). A day later, the news of the Roe Vs Wade - people with uteruses losing human rights in the United States - came through and with it, the victim-blaming commentaries online. More triggers for me as I remember the lack of justice I received after reporting sexual abuse to the police and the victim-blame I have often endured (yet even more flashbacks). Do not worry. I will be okay again. This too shall pass, but it is fair to say I have much grieving to do and good reasons to be depressed.

Said bout of depression made me realise how, for me, being depressed quickly becomes a trigger in itself. Let me explain. Depression means I'm sad, numb, or angry, as one would. In other words, I'm hurting, I'm in pain. That state raises the wants and needs I have. I need to be soothed, taken care of and hugged while I go through the emotions. I want the pain to go away, a fairer world, and people to be kinder. So far, all seems alright. But experiencing needs and wants triggers past emotional and neglectful abuse, which then makes me depressed and keeps me trapped in a cycle of wants and needs triggering depression ad infinitum. A sort of "traumaception" where trauma brings you one level deeper and deeper until you struggle to recognise what is fantasy from reality.


Growing up, my needs were used as ammunition against me (the reasons behind it are not the topic here). Each desire and need is akin to a bullet to be loaded into a weapon for abuse. There were three ways for my needs to be addressed: denied until I met their needs, dismissed as inappropriate or attended with conditions attached. Conditions were to forfeit independence and freedom and attend to their excessive needs later. Experiencing any form of need is like renouncing myself to abuse. My logical child's mind thought that if I made my needs disappear, there would be no more bullets for them to load the weapons with. One has to admire my past child self's inventiveness and innocence. No one told her they could still hit her with an empty gun. I've grown up, and all I know is to make my wants and needs disappear and attend to those of others. Well.. in recent years, I've been working hard to undo that.


Pen drawing of a bird with gold ropes tight around its body. The wings are detached from the body and opened on both side and a pencil triangular geomteric shape is above the bird's head.
Pen drawing of feeling trapped

Relationships-wise, it's a problem. I still don't know how to trust people. I sometimes attempt to share my needs and wants. I share perhaps between 1 and 10% of my actual need because I don't want to overwhelm people. Unfortunately, in many instances (not always, of course), I find that their efforts are limited and don't even cover a tenth of my need. I likely communicated poorly and clumsily, and maybe people misunderstood its importance. The results are the same, I lose trust and proceed to close the door a little more. And the cycle repeats, I feel down, isolate myself and so on.


How does this have anything to do with art?


Well, you may not know, but I procrastinate making art all the time. I think it's partly because I deny my wants and needs. Every day I think about making art, and my lists of creative projects inside my head keep getting longer and longer. I think about it most when I go to bed, and I tell myself, "If I do it now, I'll mess up my sleep schedule and my health, so I'll do it tomorrow". Tomorrow comes, and I make no art, and the cycle repeats. Mostly, I believe I am attempting to preserve my art, which is usually an extension of me, from being weaponised against me. I want to keep it safe, in my head, where no one can get to it. No one can abuse it.

I want to reach out to the child past me, hug her and tell her she's been so clever in keeping herself safe even though that wasn't her job. I want her to know she can let go now. She's too scared still, so bear with me while I work through this...

Pen drawing of a bat foetus with wings covering the face, frontal view, in a circle filled with gold paint
Pen drawing of a bat foetus

🤍 with love, x

Linka.

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On the 11th and 12th of September, 2021, I participated in London's Whitecross Street Party (WXSP). Let me tell you straight away; it was a challenging experience for me. Nonetheless, I gained some valuable insights which I would love to share with you, so you don't have to make the same mistakes as me.



My stall on Sunday morning.

What I did right:


I need to celebrate myself for (1) creating an opportunity for myself and then (2) grabbing onto it despite all the voices of impostor syndrome plaguing me.

I created an opportunity by simply contacting the organisers and asking about how it works to participate. Then, when they shared that stalls were available, I decided to grab one and give it a try.

It is important to celebrate small wins, especially for someone like me, who struggles with anxiety and broken self-confidence and self-esteem since my last job burnout.


I am also pleased to say that I managed to make some sales and therefore donate 5% (as promised) to the London Wildlife Trust, even if the amount was modest (£5,75).


What I got wrong:


However, I didn't pick the right opportunity for me among the choices offered. The WXSP offered two possibilities for the stalls: A booth for a fee for those selling goods or a booth free of charge for those offering workshops or similar. In retrospect, the best choice for me would have been the latter.

I had based my decision on my prior knowledge, but I failed to check if my assumption still matched current times. Indeed, in 2013, I worked for the Curious Duke Gallery (I adored my job!) situated on Whitecross Street. We, therefore, did participate in the event. Back then, the emphasis was more on food, with some local artists and street artists painting murals or wood boards. Many of those artists were represented by the Curious Duke Gallery, and not all of them were street artists.

Back then, as a gallery, we had sold originals and prints alike in a wide different pricing range.

In my mind, I expected it to be similar and to attract similar crowds. The truth is, the event has changed since. Nowadays, it is more like a festival, meaning people come to the event to hang out, not discover emerging artists, buy art or buy from local businesses. At best, they may want a little something, but their initial intention is general curiosity and fun focus. Hence, my original artwork, with its pricepoint, was clashing with people's expectations.


What should I have done?


Very simple. I should have shared my current appreciation of the event and asked if it was still the case today, and request a little more information about the kind of crowds that comes along.

In other words, I should have done my research. Then, I would have known that I could have used the event to showcase my art and existence... for FREE.


What I gained.


First, let me backtrack a little.

The week before the event, anxieties kept growing. Hello, insomnia, my old friend 👋. So many times I wanted to quit. I spent a lot of energy reassuring myself that it was worth it. I reminded myself of my original intentions: get to know whether people like my art or not. I did my best to distract my fears with gratefulness instead.


Saturday morning. I have accumulated poor sleep throughout the week and slept poorly the night before. When I arrive at the WXSP, I'm already overwhelmed with anxiety and I wanted to cry. I was also overloaded with sensory input, and I didn't want to talk. An intense headache came on (very migraine-like) because of the loud noises, constant movements, colours, smells and so on. I wanted to hide, cry and keep quiet the whole day. I did my best to hide it and talk and engage with people. Throughout the day, I am met with people's reactions and understand that they confuse my art with greeting cards or prints because of the small sizing. Come Saturday night; I finally have a good needed cry. The migraine headache is still there.


Once the overflowing emotions are poured out, the fog lifts a little. At that moment, I reconnected with a truth about myself. I lack skills in sales and business (hence why I try to learn a lot on that), but I am good at my art. So, instead of focusing all this energy on something that I fundamentally find unenjoyable and challenging, I should focus on making my art which I love doing and letting it speak for me.


The next day, Sunday, I changed my strategy. I no longer cared about sales and covering the costs of the event, I just wanted to focus on meeting people. This decision took the pressure off of me, and finally, I could show my art and get to know people. Sunday was still overwhelming sensory wise (that headache lasted a day or two after that weekend), but my attitude differed, so my anxiety feathered out allowing excitement and curiosity to come in instead.



Using the lesson in the future.


Going forward, I want to stop making art that answers business questions such as "will the public want it/afford it/like it?". When I do that, I find that I stifle my process. From now on, I make art that I, Linka Lipski, want to make to satisfy my soul. Only once the art has been made am I allowed to think about the business side of things such as increasing visibility, connecting with the public, finding clients and collectors, etc.

In essence, the event has highlighted my need to separate my art-making from selling my art. When the artist hat is on, I have complete freedom. When the art agent hat is on, time for finding solutions to support my artistic practice.


What I cherish from the event.


My absolute favourite from my experience of WXSP is not the lessons I have learned for myself but the people I have met. Here are a few of the interactions that I cherish:


Two young boys, one dressed up as an anime character, oohed and wow-ed at every piece of art on my stall. They told me about making art and learning code at their school and seemed genuinely happy to talk to me about it.


Amelia, a young girl, approached me timidly and apologetically to ask questions about my art process. She wanted to know what inspired me and how I found my style. She was so thankful for my answers, as if she didn't believe she deserved to be granted an answer. Amelia later came back with her father, Antonio, who was getting interviews for the event. His father has been very kind to me and has given me advice without batting an eyelid.


Marcellus, a Brazilian photographer, shared his life journey in and out of photography before and after a traumatic personal event, and I am so grateful to have heard him.





Charles, a local man, asked me for paper and a pen so he could draw for me. He did that on Saturday and then Sunday and, on the second day, also gave me a ginger beer. When I asked him why he was so kind, he replied that it was because I was kind to him.


I also met with three Instagram contacts, fellow artists and had my friends come by to support me, both in spirits and through purchasing my art. I have the best of friends.


Will I do it again?


Perhaps not. It is unlikely I will redo the event as a seller. I felt a divide between the street artists who showed little interest in the stallholders and the only ones promoted on the event's social media and the stallholders who were so kind and supportive towards everyone.

I feel like the event is becoming more focused on street art rather than the local community and, therefore, may not be the place for me - unless I dab into street art again (yes, I tried once, but it wasn't good - fun, but not good-!).

Maybe, I would do it again to give the kids their names written in calligraphy as I did on Sunday.


Only time will tell.


With love 🤍

Linka







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I am sure I am not alone in my desire to be more ecologically aware of my impact as an individual and an artist. The art industry uses way more plastic than we may like: packaging, print cartridges, and even tools of the trade like pens. So, can we enjoy selling and buying art - a 'product' that is considered a luxury - while still being in line with our ecological values?


To buy or not to buy, that is the question.


Well, for me personally, I definitely try to be environmentally conscious in my art practice.

To start, I have reduced my art supplies' buying sprees. I am no different than most: I, too, want to buy that new stationery paper, that new artist pen or try myself at another brand of colour paint. I now think twice. I stay with the desire a little longer: do I need it or want it? Usually, I want it. So I remind myself I have all these art supplies, which I can probably play with again, and I'll likely re-experience the novelty effect. I also parent myself, 'no, you can't have more until you finish what you have. This, too, acts as a reminder to use the art supplies I already have.



Look at those beautiful supplies? So hard to resist, right!


Packaging and other solutions to protect artworks.


I have also looked into alternatives or solutions when it comes to packaging art. For transporting canvases, we can buy some padded canvas envelopes made of fabric instead of bubble wrap. For mailing art, paper padded envelopes are a wonderful thing! And so are paper tape. Bubble wraps received in previous orders can be re-used to wrap any artwork, and the same goes for cardboard. So far, the only aspect I have not yet found a suitable solution for is plastic protective sleeves for artworks. In the UK, some companies can provide recyclable and biodegradable cellophane wraps (celloexpress.com and eco-craft.co.uk). However, they cannot sustain a long time in humidity or handle a significant water spillage, and they will disintegrate in less than a year.


Many customers who buy art can take a long time before framing them, often leaving it in its original packaging, feeling assured the art will be protected while working through their procrastination tendencies. In addition, as an artist, you may display your art publicly (say at an art fair, exhibition, art booth, etc.) and protect it from possible rain or water accidents. If then, the sales don't happen straight away, you can't waste the money of having to re-purchase cellophane plastic wraps every year for the next art show. Therefore, green alternatives are not yet on par with the current plastic option.


There is technically an alternative: glass. Glass means the artwork is more expensive for the customer and will require more protective wrapping solutions (re-used bubble wraps or paper alternatives). For emerging artists, that can be quite costly and may slow down sales. The expense will also have to be accounted for in the final price. However, it is a more viable option for the more established artists, especially those who like to pick the frame for their art themselves. Personally, I have chosen the plastic cellophane wraps for now. For mailing art, the plastic wrap should be enough to protect from water, and the rest of the packaging can be all cardboard and paper alternatives, which is a good start.

some of my art in cello wraps


Originals, traditional prints and modern art prints.


I believe that where I make the most significant impact is by sticking to creating original art only. Let me explain why with an example of a simple pen and ink artwork.


For each piece of art created, I use some paper as support and a pen. The ink pen is mainly composed of some plastics. You may not know this, but not all papers are equal. The whiter and smoother a paper is, the more processed it has been. This means solvents and harsh chemicals have been used on the paper to strip it from its natural hue and its natural fibres textures (it is wood pulp, after all).

To be honest, my favourite papers are the whiter ones and the smoother ones. The smoothness works best for the dip pens technique and most mediums. The lack of texture on the paper gives me greater fluidity in my movement, and I make fewer errors. I also prefer colder whites, as it marries very well with the black I use in my art and exaggerates the contrasts. It is a personal preference.



"fittonia albivenis" botanical linoprint - limited edition of 50

To offer a cheaper alternative to customers and meet people's diverse' budgets, I could make an art print out of the original. If so, I would have to add a lot more things to my list. Whether I receive the paper for printing in bulk at home or order the final prints at the printers, they would be delivered in plastic, of course, to protect them from water and humidity. I would also have to account for the printer made of plastic and the cartridges made of plastics, all of which come wrapped in more plastics on purchase. And instead of one paper used for the original, we would be using way more.

I think you see where I'm going with that.


the process of lino print carving - ASMR style

However, art prints are a great way to make art accessible and affordable to everyone. They have their place, of course, and I can tell you in another blog post why I'm not a fan of them but for now, let's see what other options exist to create more affordable art for people. Because there is. There are the traditional art printing methods: lino prints, etching, wood printing, engravings, lithography and so on. Usually, they consist of carving out a piece of metal, wood, lino or else with the desired design. Then ink or paints can be applied and pressed hard against papers, fabrics or any support the artist fancies. It is essentially printing, the old fashion way. Not all artists want to dab into other art techniques, but if they do, I think it's a great way to make art accessible to everyone. There is still the issue of all those extra paper, but it may limit the extra plastic used in modern printing. I guess we could say that aspect is compensated because every traditional handmade print is unique and therefore becomes an original in its own right.


These are only my latest reflections on the matter, and who knows where my thoughts will take me in the future. I'm sure I have plenty to learn and explore still on the topic of environmentally friendly art-making, and I'm excited about it.


🌱 with love, x

Linka.

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