Gallery C Presents: 19
19 is a Black nonbinary illustrator from the Bronx, and a graduate of Queens College
with a BFA in Fine Arts.
19 has illustrated for multiple books - "Love from the Vortex and Other Poems" and "The Peace
Chronicles" by Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz, and "Letters to my Brothers and Sisters: Practical Advice to
Successfully Navigate Academia as a Student of Color" by Nelson O. O. Zounlome - and has
produced promotional work for the Black and Brown Equity Coalition of Cherry Grove, a community
advocate for BIPOC and LGBT voices of Fire Island.
A very tired parent to one very insatiable cat, 19 continues to work on behalf of Kaleidoscope
Vibrations, LLC. to keep the kibble coming.
Click to Enlarge Images
I no longer strive to “do my best” when I work as an illustrator, and it’s what keeps me going. I don’t
see it as a paradox, either. It’s actually been a life-saver.
Living with depression, anxiety, and early joint pain has had an ugly but necessary side effect of
changing my definition of success. Whole goalposts of accomplishments in life have had to be
compressed frequently into something smaller, something that only a year or two or a decade ago
hadn’t been painful to do - physically or mentally. And then some of those goals had to go and be
removed altogether - like making a career out of art.
That’s when it all starts to become about starting the race not in order to meet the finish line, but to
have been in the race at all. You know, “the journey and not the destination,” “enjoy the moment” and
all that. That means yeah, take the medicine before starting a project and tell the people you love
you’re in pain before it gets worse so something can be done about it. No, don’t hinge the loss of
productivity and praise with your self-worth, you’ll be you whether or not you’re making as much as the
next person. That’s right, let go of that desperation to be the superhuman, and take pride in the
compromise. Does it suck? It does, actually. But even so, look at that - the art still got made, didn’t it?
Because really, disregarding everything to do “my best” could be twelve straight hours of work every
day of the week, no food or friends, seated and working and soldiering on through pain, telling myself
that the praise and the results of it all will outweigh showing kindness to my own body. That’s how two
of my comics got made in a month’s time each, surely that’s a healthy approach to making art, right?
But uh. No. It’s not.
How about instead, embrace the art that takes a year to finish? Three years, even? Maybe even take
some pride in the small little studies as much as the big projects? Why not? Art’s art.
I can do better. I know it. I can do my best, even. But I won’t. What I’m representing is a snapshot of
how I learn to be just another person with a healthier relationship to art, and in turn, the only body I’ve
got. By definition, that's cool.