Wild Hearts and the Art of Making What I Make

I think I change my blog’s theme almost as frequently as I update with a post… which is my way of saying, I have a new layout. The old one was great for posting larger images, but the margins were never justified and it was starting to make me hate looking at my own blog. So here we go! Clean lines! I’m sure I’m kidding myself when I suggest a new look will make me a better, more regular blogger (like when you justify buying new clothes or notebooks or organizational supplies or even cleaning products that you don’t actually need to get a task done, wanting to believe that owning the right stuff will make accomplishing something easier)… but here I am, bloggin’ atcha. IT’S WORKING ALREADY.

More realistically, the thing that keeps from blogging is that I just don’t know what my internet voice is anymore. The days of carefree teenage LiveJournaling are well behind me, I haven’t mastered the art of the hilarious 140 character Tweet, most social media is more about hitting “like” than actually saying anything, and I worry that I’m a big mean jerk burning potential bridges whenever I post a negative book review on Good Reads. I just don’t feel comfortable. Am I supposed to only say something when I can say it happily or confidently? I want to be professional and attract peers and future clients, but I also want to talk about my art crushes, my art insecurities, kid lit and the latest episode of Bunheads.

So I’m going to tell you about this print I made and see how that feels. Behind-the-scenes process posts or confessionals are what I most appreciate from the blogs I follow, anyway.


So I recently added a new print to my shop. It’s called Wild Hearts, 1923 and it’s a bit larger (9×12 on 11×14 paper) and a bit shinier than the rest of my prints, and I’m really happy with it. The subject — Sonora Webster of high diving horse fame, introduced to me and many an 80’s child in the form of the Disney biopic Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken — is such a source of happy nostalgia and inspiration for me that I can’t help but be really pleased with it.

Wild Hearts, 1923 by Nicole J. Wroblewski | She Can Lift a Horse

At the very end of every month I (and usually mid-month as well), I take a break (usually at Java Hutt in downtown Ferndale, and usually a skim caramel latte) to check my progress against both my short annual list of bullet-pointed resolutions and a lengthier list of monthly to-do tasks and project ideas, and write a new one for the coming month. After I finish either patting myself on the back for all of my good work or, alternately, silently berating myself for a distinct lack of check marks on the pages before me, I get to brainstorming new ideas and making real quick, real crappy sketches. This is some of my best sketching, I think. For whatever reason, it’s when I feel most unfettered by self-awareness. I can draw real crap without worrying.

Here’s the crap that lead to the Wild Hearts final art, as Instagrammed:
Wild Hearts sketch

And here’s what it looked like while in progress:
Wild Hearts, work in progress

I struggled a bit to figure out how to present the image in a worthwhile way without adding a lot of other sideshow type details that would detract from my intended focus: the connection between Sonora and the little girl watching her. When I started looking at vintage circus posters for inspiration, the design came together.

One of the most important, maybe the most important thing I’ve learned over the course of my young freelancing career is this: I can only make things the way I make them. I’ve spent too much energy wishing I could be this artist or that, and feeling frustrated when my hands don’t make exactly what my head first pictured. Realizing that I can be inspired by something, but I can’t be that thing was a really positive, freeing thing. It means that I can embrace the (hopefully) unique way my brain is going to tackle a particular idea, and do my best take on it. In this case, it meant that I wasn’t going to make an authentic 1920’s Atlantic City travel poster, but I was going to make something that called one to mind in my own clean imagery and simple palette. Taking that approach let me take on a framing device and text art, design elements I normally write off as “not my forte”, and come up with something that both pleased me and looked like me.

Prints (and more) are available through me directly on Etsy, as well as on Society6.

Now how ’bout that Bunheads season finale, huh?


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