Neko

many thoughts from many faces

welcome to our blog!

dec 25th 2023: holidays + reflection + goals

hi everyone, and welcome to another lengthy blog post from jáščer! this one will be a triple whammy: some thoughts about the winter holidays, a reflection on the rather eventful year we just had, and aspirations for 2024. so, let's begin!

the festive section!!

to reflect upon the past, one must firmly ground themself in the present. with that sentiment in mind, i must say merry christmas to those who celebrate it! to those who don't celebrate it, merry nice day! manyface is somewhere in between, for the record: we think christmas is just an excuse to give and receive gifts and eat nice foods. so we don't treat it as a regular day, but it's only special because the society we live in has decided that it's the gifts and food day.

the winter holiday we actually care about is new year's! most russian people feel the same way. russian orthodox christmas is actually on january 7th, but that's just another good food day, as we don't belong to any organised religion. it would probably be more thematically appropriate to make this blog post on new year's eve, but we are probably going to be partying at our favourite performance venue. the alternate plan for new year's eve is going to a house party, but the invitation was very vague and "haha maybe this might happen, maybe not!".

point is, new year's eve is for going absolutely ham and swiss, and new year's day is for recovering from the commotion. manyface has two new year's traditions that we observe, and i'll start with the more normal one.

reasonable new year's tradition from manyface: stay up for as long as you physically can on the night the year changes. going to sleep before 8 am on new year's day is for cowards.

completely unreasonable new year's tradition from manyface: before the clock hits midnight on the new year, write down a wish or goal for the coming year on a little piece of paper. then, as soon as it's midnight, quickly burn your wish paper. make sure to do this over whatever drink you're having, as you want all of the ashes to fall into your drink. this is because the next step of this completely unreasonable new year's tradition is to drink all the ashes of your wish.

i have no idea if this is a russian thing, or just a thing our family made up, but i am passionate about this and want it to catch on. i mean, i thought it was a russian thing, but then i told other russian people about it, and they thought i was completely off my trolley. however, we have been drinking wish ash since we were four years old. possibly earlier, but i don't that have many memories from before then. and yes, i fully intend on doing this at the performance venue and coercing other people to follow my example.

and who knows, maybe you might become a wish ash drinker too, after reading this blog post! 7 out of 7 manyface alters recommend drinking wish ash for a good and prosperous year!

speaking of good and prosperous years...

so much cool shit happened in 2023!!

i'm going to go in a vaguely chronological order here.

firstly, we got into photography. the way it happened was that therry got sick of my expensive character adoptables hobby (more on that later) and said "well, i am going to make a big and impulsive purchase because it is unfair that jáščer gets to waste money on stupid crap! i am tired of being a responsible and frugal sort of girl!" and got us a canon eos 2000d. she's such a real one for that because we love the medium and find so much wonder and joy in going outside and taking photos of awesome things we see.

well, i just said that therry made a big and impulsive purchase with student loan money. but so did i lol! i bought plane tickets to the states, and in early july, we went to the states to see our friends vi and matt. it was fun and we definitely hung out a lot and saw lots of cool things. my biggest impression of the states, other than my friends, was that the sky is absolutely massive there! also, i saw the house we grew up in from across a river, which was very surreal.

manyface lore that isn't obvious from reading our bios and such is that we lived in new york city until we were eleven. well, now you know!

the problem with the states trip was that we had a financial emergency due to a last-minute change of plans, and we are still recovering from that punch to the gut/wallet. i know it will get better in 2024, but we spent the latter half of 2023 being pretty damn broke, which isn't exactly something to celebrate, but it certainly coloured our lives. which is why i'm talking about it.

a seriously major achievement is that we graduated from university in late july! we are bachelors of science! there were times where i thought i was going to give up, because frankly, getting the degree was a dream the old host bestowed upon me. i never had much passion for mathematics either - my calling is art, all kinds of it. but i had to keep going because i owed it to him, and because i wanted to prove that i could succeed where he failed. i will admit that the host change made our grades drop, but it was our third attempt at our third year of uni, and three's a magic number!

while struggling with uni and the pressures of a society that idolises a very narrow concept of success, we made a lot of abstract art and got really into acrylic painting! it is now our main medium, and we have found so much comfort in it. i'd say that it really became our "thing" in april.

i (and the body) turned twenty-four on the third of september. following my birthday, i was revitalised with a ton of positive energy. i decided that the way i wanted to keep living my life was to keep going to open mics and live music events as often as i could (we had been doing that all year anyway!), and that i wanted to be a part of the real world that i was so devoted to. that meant deleting almost all of our social media and focusing on living life to the fullest.

at a live music event in mid-september, i met an old acquaintance from university, and they introduced me to their housemate. we clicked instantly, and i started dating that housemate. it was my first out-of-system relationship where i was... me! the old host had been in a ton of external relationships, but i hadn't had any since i took over, and i felt pretty self-conscious about that.

however, that did not last long! i broke up with them about two months into the relationship, because it was super stressful and i realised that i didn't like them as much as i thought i did. really, the only good that came out of that relationship was me being able to confirm that i'm asexual. how? by "losing" our "virginity". my god, that shit was boring as hell!

while i was dating that person, i started talking to my dad again. it had been three years, and i realised that having him in my life would not be so bad. it's not that i had forgiven him - i don't think i ever will - but that i knew he would respect me despite everything. there will never be reciprocal love between us ever again, but there is comfort, and there is happiness. i'm really glad for that.

in october, i self-published a book of our poetry. it has almost all the poems from the last three years, including a few things from before i was hosting/aware of hosting. but most of it is me reclaiming our identity as poets and processing my existence through beautiful words, and hence the book is called "the lizard's dance". i am the lizard! dance with me!

another thing that happened in october was that we had our first gig! it was at that performance venue that we're going to be celebrating new year's eve at: we were the special guests for one of their open mic nights, which meant that we had a 25ish-minute slot while everyone else only had 5ish minutes to perform. now technically, it was our second gig, but we're not counting the actual first one (in august) because it was timed really poorly and was kind of a flop. the one in october felt like the first one, anyway - it was a success and i felt so alive.

in november, i decided that being online wasn't too awful, and had a random hyperfixation on making character art and rebuilding my relationship with my ocs. i quit the adopts community, but i still like looking at them even though i'm probably not going to buy one again, not unless the design is ridiculously to my tastes. also, good fucking riddance to the closed species communities i indulged in. i'm free from that bs, baby!

at the end of november, efir decided that it was a good idea to start working on this website again. and so, webmastery/webweaving has been our hyperfixation since then, and it seems to be the kind that won't go away for a very long while. i'm glad to be a part of this community and to have the space to candidly express myself online, and i know the others in manyface feel the same.

at the start of december, we took part in an art course offered by a charity. it was a really awesome, intense week of creating stuff, and while we went into it with hopes of boosting our cv, we made some good friends and amazing memories.

we also made a good, solid attempt at picking up reading again this year! most of the books on our bookshelf were read in 2023! i'm really proud of us!

so, all in all, 2023 was a really good year for us. our mental health is better than ever, and even though some parts of the year were challenging and frustrating, we are so glad to be alive! we are so glad to have made it this far, and our journeys will continue in 2024! which brings us to...

goals and aspirations for the coming year!!

our most pressing major goal is to become employed. ideally, we want to work in mental health peer support, or in a field to do with art and creativity, like being staff at an art gallery. but at this point, we might as well take anything we can get. being mentally ill as all hell gave us no space for proper work experience, and we took 2 more years than usual to graduate, so nobody really wants to hire us. it's depressing!

the same charity that did the art course also does employability courses where you're pretty much guaranteed to get a job at some nice department store at the end, so we are probably going to do that unless something else comes our way. in fact, i literally just filled out a form on their website that's like "haha please call me and tell me about opportunities because i don't have a job".

once we become employed and have enough money to do this, we want to rent a cheap studio at this local artists' collective. because frankly, our current "studio" is a little desk covered in a tarp that is covered in paint. it is not ideal working conditions!

again, once we have a job... we want to get a pet lizard. a leopard gecko friend! i think the landlady will allow it, because they live in tanks. i will cherish that lizard like my life depends on it, mark my words!

now, this is kind of corny, because who the hell says "oh yeah my aspiration is to consume more media"... but we really would like to read even more books and watch more movies. for books, we'll aim for 36 (3 per month) and for movies, we'll aim for 24 (2 per month). the reason i'm even saying this is because we have this stupid weird complex where we feel like we're not allowed to have fun unless we're creating something or "being productive". so this goal is about destroying that complex as much as it is about getting into more things.

also, i'd like to get physically healthier. i don't hate being fat, but i'd like to build more stamina, get stronger, and be more active because we had a health problem crop up where the only solution to get rid of it is losing weight. it took us a long time to accept how our body "wants" to be shaped, but if it's compromising our health, then we should try to reduce risk and harm.

what else? well, we obviously need to keep creating and sharing cool and beautiful things! i hope our artistic skills and techniques grow and develop, and that we find more local communities to call home. we're already pretty solid regulars at that performance venue we'll probably be spending new year's eve at, but it'd be awesome to have even more places like that.

building off that last point, one of the reasons that place is our favourite is because we're out as a system there. so i think that in 2024, we should come out as multiple in more places. it's scary, but it's worth it and it makes us feel so happy and loved when people call us by the right names and treat us as the individuals we are.

finally, we'd like to spend more time with our sister before she goes off to study abroad in australia. she's a bright shining star in our lives, and we want her to know how loved she is. she's been struggling with her mental health over the last few years, so we hope that 2024 is kind and healing for her, and that we can be a part of that healing.

there's a whole lot of stuff that we want to happen! and i believe that we can make these goals into reality, because we are amazing and strong! i am really proud of how we lived through 2023, so i hope that when we look back on 2024, we feel the same sense of victory.

currently, i am:
feeling: powerful and victorious! proud and festive! good!
listening to: sunrise by indradevi
reading: solanin by inio asano
eating: nothing, but i had some freshly baked triple chocolate chip cookies while writing this post. i just took my meds like 10 minutes ago if that counts?

dec 20th 2023: abstract art

introduction.

we have been drawing since we could hold a pencil, but we first held a tablet pen when our body was about 14. the tablet belonged to our father, and quickly became ours because he did not have much use for it. we still have that tablet, actually, and often use it to draw! it's a wacom bamboo ctl-470. sturdy thing.

the point is that when we first started pursuing digital art, we were obsessed with drawing our favourite fictional character at the time (terezi from homestuck) over and over again. we were downright prolific with the terezi pictures. and then after terezi it was aria from crypt of the necrodancer, and after aria it was ocs. by the time we were 19, we were frequently doing character commissions.

now, flash-forward to september this year. i'm writing in my diary, and it's a rant about how i simply cannot justify character art as "real art". don't worry - my feelings changed following that angry day in september, but the question is: how did i get there? and if i was denouncing our roots as artists who actually take art seriously, what the hell did i consider to be "real art"?

the answer to both of those questions, as you may have guessed from the blog post title, is "abstract art". after abstract art changed our lives for the better and utterly revolutionised our creative processes, i was ready to denounce our history as character artists - and i still am happy to throw it away! but after understanding my fellow artists and their feelings better, i have no reason whatsoever to devalue them!

now, i will talk about some trauma i have associated with character art in this post, but i don't want this to be the topic of the entire thing. instead, i want the topic of this post to be "why i love abstract art".

i want to be clear: i'm making this post because the average attitude towards my favourite style is the same as the one i erroneously held towards character art. people will look at a pollock and say "no way that's real art"! and this isn't to mention duchamp's infamous fountain that's been kicking the asses of abstract art haters for the last century...

abstract art changed our lives!

well, to understand how abstract art changed our lives for the better, you have got to understand that our lives weren't great at the time we picked it up. we had estranged ourselves from our parents, and were struggling at university, and had just cut ties with a system that had been our best friends for the last six years.

the problem was that they were five years older than us, and groomed us, and that the relationship had the wackiest power imbalances you could conceive of. the other problem was that most of the character art we did was gifts for them, or commissions for them. pretty much everything we drew was for them, and after we left them, the thought of drawing a character of any sort made us absolutely sick.

still, we were bursting with creative energy. all of these horrible things in our lives had to find their way out of our body and onto the page, or screen. by the time we decided to defer that year of university, we had made three abstract pieces.

i'm not going to show the piece we made on the night we decided to defer because it's signed with the old host's name, and it feels wrong and private. but i will show the first one we ever made, a month or so prior to that decision, at the house of one of our (current) best friends:

look at that! isn't it cool? it's got so much stuff going on, and it looks pretty even if you don't understand what it represents! that hardly makes for what i value in "real art", but it makes me so happy to look back on this piece.

anyway, it was by the third piece that we realised how truly liberating it was to make abstract art. you had the freedom to make anything you could think of. you had the freedom to say "these are my emotions, and good luck trying to decipher them. i can help you, but only if you care enough to engage with my work". you had the freedom to actually express what was on your mind instead of using an oc or fictional favourite to have that layer of separation. emotions would flow with the shapes and the colours, and when it reached people, it would touch on these universal feelings of love, or hate, or despair, or survival - just through a few forms and hues!

we started experimenting with abstract art. first it was just stuff with markers on paper, but then it started being digital, 3d, pyrography, acrylic pour, acrylic impasto. and though we've found a good niche in acrylic palette knife paintings, it was abstract art that gave us the freedom to step out from the comfort zone of drawing terezi, or aria, or ocs belonging to those awful people over and over again on a wacom bamboo ctl-470.

abstract art is real art.

what do i mean when i say something is "real art"? for me, "real art" is something that is sweet and pure and true. it has to be honest, you have to put love into it (even if it's spiteful in nature), and it has to possess some sort of resonance. and obviously, art is subjective - something that looks this way to me may not strike those chords for you! sweetness (love in creation), purity (universality, resonance), and truth (being honest and earnest) might not even be what you're looking for at all - your artistic triple may be "provocative, ingenious, and beautiful". but the ideals i defined are ones that i strive for when i create something. i want my work to have those qualities.

i've made things that completely miss the mark, and i've made things that don't even try to reach it. but most of what i'm proud of firmly reaches those standards in my mind. you don't have to feel the same, of course.

for me and to the others in manyface, our abstract art captures "universal" feelings that come from the heart. when i say universal, i mean that most people can relate: feelings like "i'm in love" and "i survive against all odds" and "i hate my abusers" and "today i am happy and free".

that universality is something we find valuable, and it generally affects us much more than anything that requires a representational lens to view the emotion through.

from talking to someone nice in the 32bit cafe discord server today, i got to understand that most people want that lens of representation to have a bit of distance from their feelings, or to use it as a guide for them. i knew that that friend (the one whose house we went to to make the first abstract piece) felt that way about their character fanart, but i didn't realise it was a feeling a lot of people shared.

so i completely get why people make character art, and don't denounce it at all, even though i was very frustrated with not being able to understand it when i made that diary entry in september.

"but jáščer, didn't you say manyface made character art for ages and ages?" yeah! the feelings we put into it was "i love terezi" and "i love aria" and "we love our horrible ex-best friend", and so i'm kind of indifferent to it - those feelings aren't compelling or universal, and they're hardly true anymore. that's why i'm happy to say that our lives as artists truly began with abstraction.

again, abstract art made us realise that there was so much more to art than "i'm a fan of terezi and aria and also want to make an awful person happy". art could be much more than that! art could be anything we dreamed of! and that was what finally made it "real", to us. something worth dedicating our lives to.

so what of those famous examples of abstract artists taking the piss that people always bring up, like the guy who taped a banana to a wall and sold it for a hundred grand or something? well, we couldn't tell you. we believe in giving everyone a fair chance. (even though we might forget that belief in frustration!)

maybe the wall banana guy was really onto something in their conception of that idea. or maybe they were laundering money. but i don't really care, because the haters are still talking about the wall banana, which means it achieved... something!

all of this should be taken with a grain of salt, because the only people we make the rules for are ourselves. but discovering abstract art showed us that there were no rules at all, at least when it came to the limits of what one could create.

conclusion.

well, i hope that you come out of this feeling inspired. the greatest honour would be to have changed someone's mind about abstract art, or to have given them that moment of clarity where they think "ah, so this is why abstract artists do that!".

a greater honour would be to have someone read this and think "i really want to make something abstract right now!" and then actually do it. please, if you make something abstract after reading this blog post, please show us!

if any of this made you angry, just remember that it's my perspective and that at the end of the day, it doesn't have to be important.

finally, if you read this and thought "that's great, but i still look at abstract art and see a bunch of shapes that mean nothing", i simply must show you this comic from 1947.

i hope that helps! not only are you a space, but you can become a space that's also an abstract art admirer! or even an abstract artist. the possibilities are endless!

- jáščer

dec 18th 2023: charlize is procrastinating!!!

hiiii!!! this is our first blog post!! exciting, right? i think so! jáščer wanted to be the one to make it but i stole the front because he can't have everything to himself!! hahaha, i love her, but they're real selfish about being conscious >:(

so, the reason that I'M the one writing this right now is that a dear friend of ours got some awful news, and we can do nothing to help. and so i simply REFUSED to let us be totally miserable and instead decided that i'd rather seethe with righteous rage!! i mean, it's always better to spit fire than mope quietly in a corner! at least, i think so because that's what comes naturally to me!

and like, when jáščer gets sad, xe starts thinking about all the other bad things in our lives, like how we're in the finances trenches and still don't have a job. despite the fact that we're on track to slowly crawl out of those trenches, despite the fact that we're surviving and even thriving and generally in such a better place than before... really, it makes me so angry! we've achieved so much and yet it sometimes feels like our lizard friend takes it all for granted.

i don't take it for granted!! i might be mad as all hell, but i believe in thriving in spite of adversity! so i gotta take all this aggression and turn it into aggressive joy. and you know what, i think i WILL!!

we really extremely fucked up our sleep schedule recently so it's 3:35 AM as i write this sentence, but i'm determined to stay up until the morning and go to the bookstore and the bubble tea shop!!! this was more jáščer's plan than mine, so i'm going to kick his ass into appreciate being dragged outside by yours truly :p

now then, what do i have planned to occupy myself until the morning? well, i gotta whittle down our backlog of art trades, which SOMEONE foolishly took on because they were hyperfixated on character art. and now that that we don't feel that enthusiastic about drawing people, these trades are downright oppressive... and i guess i'll just have to take one for the team!

what else? i gotta code my page of the website and take a bunch of personality quizzes! that's gonna be the fun part of the night, i think. although i might take a nap before i do stuff to clear my head from the anger i feel!

i bet that jáščer would talk about why we're moving our diary from being in a physical book to being a page on our website. the answer is that that it's much easier for us to type than write by hand, and that the physical diary started feeling a lot like a chore to maintain, because we'd just write what we did every day and that's it. and damn, that shit's hard to remember! so maybe, we should just focus on writing what we want, when we want to. and sharing our experiences with others is both fun and motivating! (i love attention)

the physical diary was a solution to a problem we no longer really have: the desire to talk about our days but no social media to do it on. and it's not like it was a good solution, because we'd still tell our friends about the cool things that happened every day. plus, once we had it for a few months, it was just bullet points of like... every event that took place. which is just BORING! not to mention tedious...

point is, the blog idea is a good one, i think!!

currently, i am...
feeling: angry but motivated!! tired, too...
listening to: urge to urinate by pianoid
drinking: water