Once a neighbor approached my husband and I when we were walking around the neighborhood, introduced himself and asked us, “So, what’s your deal?”
We responded with the usual metrics; married couple, occupations, but that didn’t seem to satisfy him.
“Okay,” he said warily and we wondered if we had seen us in costume, or lugging art around, so we told him that we are involved in local theater. To this day, his question hangs in my head. What is “my deal” anyway? And what does it mean to tell someone who you are? What’s important for me to tell you, and what do you really want to hear?
Every so often I introduce myself on my website, go into a brief overview of who I am, what I’ve done, and what I’m up to. I get new followers now and then, and I think introductions are important. This time, I went on social media and asked for some questions, what you want to know. Here are the questions, and my answers, but first, a brief overview.
I am a writer and photographer who lives in Philadelphia with my husband, artist and graphic novelist, Jared Axelrod. I am an ENnie award winning game designer, and my first game, Shelter in Place, came out in October 2011 from Galileo Games. I designed and produced the game, Velociraptor! Cannibalism! with five other designers, and wrote a supplement to the upcoming Fate Core called Court/Ship. I publish fantasy and science fiction in print and on the web and I once started a science fiction magazine with five other writers that endures to this day.
I am a staff photographer for the Philadelphia Weekly, and I take photographs of goings on about the city, as well as book covers, author portraits, and other, far weirder things of my own devising.
In a perfect world, what would you spend your time doing artistically? Would it be what you currently do now, only more? Or would you go off in slightly different directions?
In a perfect world, the only difference is funding. I really like the things I do now, the photoshoots and the projects, but I would love to do bigger things. I would love to do photoshoots where I can afford big costumes and cool sets. I would love to do longer written works. I am fortunate enough that right now I am engaged with creating photos, fiction, and games that I love. The only thing I would change is scale.
Do you open your presents on Christmas eve or Christmas morning?
I’ll go with the traditions of whoever I am with. My husband’s family likes Christmas Eve, my family had always done it Christmas day.
What do you think your followers should learn from you?
I don’t see what I do as teaching so much as entertaining. Although I do enjoy teaching, and have been a TA and a guest speaker in classrooms, when I post and write, I do so to entertain. I am happy to teach if people have questions, and usually I find myself answering questions about fundraising for artists, writing and photography. I’ve been really fortunate to have excellent mentors, and I hope that I can help other people the way I’ve been helped.
When did you start thinking of yourself as an artist?
I submitted a theatrical program to the Fringe Festival. It was a spoken word contortionist bed of nails thing. I remember when I submitted to the program I thought to myself “If I get this, I can’t say I’m not an artist anymore.” My proposal was accepted.
Looking back, it was partly about external validation, but it was also about being unable to deny who I am any longer. If I was going to stand up in front of people, night after night, if they were going to pay money to hear me speak, if I am the kind of person who submits to Fringe Festivals, then I am an artist and I need to get over myself and just accept it.