All the Things She Said

Inside The Artist's Mind

Sometimes I am completely blind to social boundaries. I’m unsure of which things are okay to say to siblings versus friends versus parents versus acquaintances versus a married friend. Sometimes I share things that feel intimate or personal to others but don’t feel that way to me. Sometimes I can say something that I 100% believe in that moment… but later I don’t think the same way. Sometimes I don’t know that it seems like I’m flirting with someone until days later, years in some cases. Sometimes I am in a comfortable place physically and forget that I’m not around emotionally safe people.

It’s like if everything you could say in a given social situation was on a string and all of the strings were tangled together in a messy ball. You go to teach for the “right” string and you end up with something else altogether.

If you’re ever in a social situation and you hear someone say something and you think to yourself, “there’s no way she didn’t know that was inappropriate.” There is a way. It’s called being autistic.

❤ Liz

100 Days of Pantone

The actual paintable area of these postcards is a slightly tall square of approximately 3.75 inches. I wasn’t really used to painting on surfaces that small when I started and wasn’t sure I’d be able to work a lot on them, but I have proven myself wrong.

Check out postcard 20!

The light refraction off the ocean water is new for me. I don’t recall ever trying to paint that effect before. I really like the way it turned out, though, and these little postcards are a great exercise in trusting myself.

Not to mention, every day that I work on these little postcards is a day that I am grateful to practice art and relish the joy and calm that it brings me.

After twenty days the box that these Pantone postcards came in is getting a little weak. Don’t be surprised if you start seeing duck tape on it in the future.

❤ Liz Zook

Things Change, People Change

Art News, artist life

I’m 18 days into the 100 day challenge that I decided to do…

When I’m not planning out every detail or constructing each piece mentally before ever touching a brush to canvas, I don’t make pop art. When it’s just me and one of these postcards and I only have five or ten minutes before class, it’s something else altogether. It’s been very freeing, not being constricted to only one style. I don’t know what kind of girl I’ll be at the end of this, but I don’t think I’ll just be “the pop art girl” anymore.

🖤 Liz Zook

It Is Only Day 7 and I Am Already Exhausted

artist life

Autism Awareness Month, the month of April, is exhausting. I am autistic. I am also the parent of an autistic child. I am not, however, an “Autism Mom.” I am just an autistic person raising another autistic person.

I can’t speak for other autistic people, nor would I want to. I am not a racial minority, and I’m not nonverbal–most of the time. So I definitely cannot speak to those lived experiences.

But here are some blanket autism facts about all autistic people, that a lot of allistic people often aren’t aware of:

  • Autistic children grow into autistic adults. Hi, nice to meet you. I’m Liz, an autistic 38 year old.
  • Autism is not an intellectual disability itself, though it can cooccur with intellectual disabilities.
  • Autism is genetic. “80% of autistic risk” and I hate how this is worded “is traced to inherited genes.” (And that’s a stat from Autism Speaks–who I loathe, but you can google it. There are other sources that say pretty much the same thing. Some of them are medical journals. But I don’t have the attention span to go through those right now.)
  • Autism is not a spectrum that everyone is on. It is a spectrum only for those of us that are autistic, because we all present our autistic traits differently. Not everyone is “a little autistic.”

So why is Autism Awareness Month so exhausting for me an many other autistic people? Most of us are Autistic Advocates all year round just by existing. However, Autism Awareness Month is a special kind of hell presented by friends and family who are well-meaning, but can still be harmful. I have seen so many of my peers, professional artists, donate paintings to, or take part in, fundraising events raising money for autistic people. Yet, there are no autistic people involved in the event or the organizations that they’re raising money for! Then I go to the websites of the organizations and they usually have totally cringe language like autism is a thing that you can get and how it is so difficult for families who are “inflicted with autism”. Gag me.

Then I see celebrities who I respect and admire giving money to organizations that were started by a father who once said that he wished his autistic child had drowned. (Here’s the research for that.) And then there are people sharing puzzle pieces and fundraising efforts by Autism Speaks–a hate group more than anything. (I’m really way too tired to go into all of that. There is a great article by the Washington Post about it, though. You can read that here.)

I am asking for one thing from the people who want to be involved in Autism Awareness Month and be supportive of Autistic people. Before you share or post or get involved, do your research. Make sure the organizations that you’re working with and/or promoting are actually run by, and are actually run for, autistic people. Check the language, check who is on the board, check whether the wording is centered around the parents or is actually centered around the autistic people.

Liz Zook
(name might soon be changed)

New 100 Day Challenge

Art News, artist life

I bought a box of 100 Pantone postcards. I’m going to try to paint one every day for 100 days. Drawing randomly and getting inspiration from the color. (Or Pinterest if inspiration doesn’t strike on its own.) Today I used Posca acrylic paint markers. (I’ll probably use them most days, because they glide on these postcards!

Postcard #1 by Liz Zook

I’m going to try to share the postcards even when I don’t like them, because practice is practice and it’s supposed to be a fun 10-15 minute exercise, not a serious piece of art.

When I Go Dark…

artist life
The Pop Art Girl, Liz Zook, in her studio.

No one has ever told me that they expect certain things from me… on my public instragram, I mean. (People have—in plenty of way at other times and in other places—let me know exactly what they expect from me.) But I still feel this sort of pressure to get reactions or to sell. And when I don’t get the reactions that I thought I was going to get I get really down on myself as a creative. It’s ridiculous. I know it’s ridiculous. I love my work and I love what I do. But there’s an entire extra layer as both a woman and an autistic when it comes to feedback and expectations.

Three or four years ago I was at my career peak. And I enjoyed None. Of. It. I had paid exhibitions. I was selling original paintings at $1,200 each. I was doing goooooood y’all. But there was no joy in those accomplishments. I thought that maybe I shouldn’t be an artist or that I wasn’t on the right path. But when I’m not creating I get sad, too. I was so confused and overwhelmed.

Through therapy and my autistic diagnosis, I realized I had been in burnout for a while. How long exactly I’m not sure. Every time I tried to pull myself out over the next few years I went further back down. Masking and forcing yourself out of burnout takes so fucking much energy. I can’t explain it to allistic people. I know allistic people experience burnout, but it’s just not on the same level. I mean, psychologically it is not. Otherwise, autistic people would not get autism diagnoses. (And at the same time I was going through the first few years of living with a chronic illness.)

So, now, these days, when I feel that sort of expectation rising I try to step away from my public Instagram. That’s one of the reasons I have a private Instagram, too. I don’t know if anyone was interested in an explanation. (Autistic people tend to over-explain.) But I wanted to explain why I go dark when I go dark.

I would like to get to a point where burnout isn’t an issue. But there’s really not enough research into autistic burnout or resources for autistic people to get through burnout. It can last years. So I have to try to mitigate it in any way I can. Sometimes that means completely stepping away from art and sometimes it means making art for my consumption only, instead of art for posting.

So I went dark on Insta and TikTok and plan on staying dark through the next week. I want to see if it helps. If it does help then I can add it to my Burnout Mitigation Tooblox.

Thanks for listening.

❤ Liz Zook


It’s Not Going To…

Art News, artist life

I finished two new digital art pieces yesterday. Just a bit of cheeky fun.

I like how the visuals are roughly the same, but the messages are not. One is an invitation and one is basically saying “kiss my ass.”

I was going to put them in my Ko-fi shop, but because they are illustrated nudity they go against the Ko-fi guidelines for things I can sell on there. So I ended up changing my first goal. Instead of a table to make better digital art, it is an upgrade to my website so that I can sell the cheekier designs here.

Back to school work on Monday.

❤ Liz

Okay. So… Ko-fi

Art News, artist life
Love Songs illustration by the pop art girl, artist Liz Zook

Okay. Another day into Ko-fi. I downloaded the Creator Guide. It was somewhat informative. I still think it’s like a mix of Patreon and Kickstarter. Not only do you have goals, you also have membership tiers, and a donate button.
The difference between Ko-fi and those others is that you also can have a shop. Which I think it pretty cool, because I don’t have a shop anywhere right now.

What I’ve done so far…

  • I added a membership tier
    • rewards include 20% off in my Ko-fi shop and a monthly digital download
  • I created my shop and put some of my newest paintings in it
  • and I set up “Buy a Coffee for the Pop Art Girl” set at my actual coffee order price, but that’s not what I’ll use it for.

Check it out, if you feel so inclined. I would really appreciate any feedback!

❤ Liz


Art News, artist life

I saw a TikTok artist posting about Ko-fi and was curious. So I signed up! I’m @thepopartgirl, as always and you can find my Ko-fi here. It encouraged me to put a “goal” so I did. However, I am saving up for two things. One is actually an iPad. The other is a show in Los Angeles. (You might have read about it in a previous post.) Both are important to me.

So far Ko-fi seems to be a mix between patreon and kickstarter. I have one tier and if you don’t want to join a tier you can use the “tip” option. I’ll try to keep you updated with how it goes.

❤ Liz, thepopartgirl