Pride.

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It’s the last day of pride month. 🌈

2020 has felt more formative for me than ever.

My gay Christian journey started when I was 16, but now that I am (so very) close to the big 4-0, I feel like I am just beginning in a lot of ways. I’m truly learning what it means to trust myself – the deep, knowing me inside. To show up for myself and do hard things.

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I’m learning it’s good and necessary to take up space in this world, to say things, to deeply feel things.

2020 has been a tremendously hard year – for everyone – but often the hardest times bring about the most growth and beauty. I have a sense the coming months for me will be the hardest, but I am tenaciously hopeful and believing for the growth and beauty in the midst of it. (Maybe, because of it.)

A friend sent me this quote that I have said to myself every day lately:

“I will go, and I will go afraid.”

– Morgan Harper Nichols

I hope that wherever you are on your coming out journey, you know it is okay.

You are more than okay.  You are loved.

Happy Pride, my friends. ❤️🌈🎉

📷 Photo of Stacey ©2019 Camilla Hrytzak.

A parent-scare + restore-faith-in-humanity story.

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As a parent, you never know when your kids will get hurt, but you are always waiting for it on some level. (And when you have a 2.5 yr old son like mine, you wait for it every day.)

We explored a new place last night, a walking trail (mostly concrete) around a man-made lake. It had been raining off and on, and past their bedtime, so we took one last photo of the kids before heading for the car. Our son then decided to run up a wet rock and slipped, falling head first on the concrete with a loud & sickening CRACK. (Yes, lots of blood immediately everywhere.)

Friends, there’s so many good people out there.

Thank you to the couple who were passing by, who stopped and immediately asked if they should call 911. They called, talked with us and the dispatchers, waited with us and directed the ambulance & paramedics to where we were.

Thank you to the young girl on her skateboard who passed by, and stayed just to quietly hold a big umbrella over us as it rained. Her smiles of comfort for our 4 yr old daughter helped so much, too. (Thanks to, I think, her dad, who gave us the umbrella to keep when the paramedics got there.)

Thank you to the man who stopped to ask what our son’s fav show was, so he could pull it up on his phone to help him stop crying. (Who knew I would be actually grateful for damn Blippi.)

Thank you to the man who stopped and said he lived nearby, if we needed to take our son there or if he needed to run home to grab first-aid supplies.

Thank you to the paramedics for their ongoing work in the world right now, in this situation, and for giving him a teddy bear after he wouldn’t stop crying in the ambulance.

Thank you to this rainbow for showing up immediately after the ambulance left, carting my son off to the hospital, and making me feel all the feels. 😭❤️🌈

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Everyone’s fine now and home (with stitches) and we are grateful.

Don’t give up on humanity. We met a lot of helpers tonight. 🙏❤️🙌🏼

Church.

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Pausing along the Maple Ridge / Pitt Meadows Dyke trails to breathe in the mountain fog.

Right now, this is my church.

On my bike, sweating down these trails, God and I have it out.
Almost every day.

This (quarantine) time feels uncertain, in more ways than one.
So, I confess my scariest fears.

My most visceral aches.

My wildest dreams.

My tender hopes.
My heavy shame.

My loud celebrations and my quiet grief.

My beautiful questions, my untamed excitement, and my honest heartbreak.

Something about this mountain air, it’s healing.

We can do this.
We can do hard things.

I hope you’re hanging in there, friends.

And I hope you are finding your church too. ❤️🌈 🚲

DreamWorks “Rhyme Time Town” premieres June 19th!

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At the tail end of 2018, I joined the amazingly talented and tiny crew at Doberman Pictures in Vancouver, to work on this adorable DreamWorks preschool show, “Rhyme Time Town”. I threw myself headfirst into the beautiful-ness of this little show, and ever since then, I have painted my heart out on all the various locations. (Many of which are in this trailer – please, I beg of you, pause it on that town overview map, just to acknowledge my many hours?! I promise I will feel it, haha.)

I think this is the 13th or 14th show I have worked on – I think after ten you just stop counting, right? But this production may be the most beautiful one yet. I’m really proud of all my brushstrokes (that will be onscreen for 0.4 of a second, oof), and to work alongside this incredible crew.

It premieres on Netflix June 19th, and if you have or know any toddler-like or preschool children, I promise they will like it! And maybe, just for me, can you notice how carefully the trees were painted?!

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So proud to have my name in the credits among this amazingly talented crew! 😀

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Local travel posters

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Since I work full-time in children’s animation and illustrating kids books, sometimes I love to dust off my graphic design skills for fun.

I have always loved those vintage-esque travel posters – but who is traveling anywhere right now?? Well, they are opening up some local things around us, which helps ease the Groundhog Day feels a bit.

So the idea came to me to do a couple posters for my fav local Maple Ridge places, as a fun exercise. I have already gotten some custom orders from people – so if you want your fav place illustrated in a poster like this, feel free to reach out! 🙂

Alouette Lake, Golden Ears Provincial Park – this beautiful lake is about a 10 minute drive from our house, and we often escape for the day or bring dinner and let the kids play in the sand.

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Gold Creek, Golden Ears Provincial Park – a fav hiking spot, and a location used often for filming shows & commercials.

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Ridge Meadows Dyke trails, Maple Ridge / Pitt Meadows – biking about 25-30K almost every day on these trails has been saving my life during quarantine!

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June 17 update:

A friend commissioned me to design three custom travel posters of their fav spots, with their kids built into the designs! 🙂 Such a fun idea!

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Human DOING.

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This quarantine time has made me see I am way better at being a human DOING, rather than a human BEING. I like to be busy. I don’t like to be still and feel hard things. It’s ugh, and uncomfortable. But this time is teaching me that’s exactly what I need to do.

Slow down.

Breathe.

Feel it. Stay with it. See what it can teach you.

This illustration came to me when I jogged passed one of my fav trees this week. Man, it felt good to dig out my pencils & ink pens and lose myself on paper. (Drawing on toothy watercolour paper is also really satisfying. My Moleskine sketchbook was full so I had to – happy accident.)

Hope everyone remembers to slow down! Love to you all.

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Blippi’d

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My son Hudson is OBSESSED with Blippi. Can all the Mamas & Papas raise your hand if you have a toddler who is requesting to watch Blippi AD NAUSEAM?! (Send wine and headphones.)

My only appropriate response to this is to draw him in his glory wearing Blippi’s garb. Even when he asks for his children’s vitamin (which are Frozen-shaped because he has a very opinionated older sister), he pulls out ANY shape and yells, “BLIPPI ONE!”

Gosh, I love 2-year-olds.

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Side note…. I wonder if Blippi has any kids books out there and needs an illustrator…..

Quarantine art club

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Sheesh, friends.

This new normal, this quarantine life – it’s not easy, right? I don’t do well with unknowns, with large fears, with missing people. I am thankful for so many things, and also struggling with so many things. I know we all are. For me, music helps. Dancing helps. Working out helps. Hugging my kids helps. Getting outside on my bike helps.

Making art helps.

Here’s a couple sketches I have done outside of my book/animation projects that I’m not allowed to post about. I will keep adding as I do them!

Hang in there, we are all in this together!

Sending many social distance tight hugs. I can’t wait to have a big dance party when this is all over.

Stay safe and healthy!

May 5 – I don’t know why, but it gave me immense joy to paint my favourite chair tonight. I need to actually sit and rest (or write!) in it more, though. #notetoself

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May 3 – I think one of my fav things is hearing/watching someone playing violin. Man, I love that sound. (Best sound on film scores, too.) When I worked in Gastown (a trendy part of Vancouver) someone would take up residence on a bench and play their violin. It ALWAYS made me smile. Sending hope, love and music therapy to everyone tonight.

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Apr 24 – The sun was setting as I was biking the other day, so today I painted it. I’m hopeful, I’m sad, I’m trying my best not to give up. Remember, each day is a new one!

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Apr 21 – My daughter turns 4 today! I have been dying to draw her in this most awesome Mr. Rogers dress she constantly wears 😀

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Apr 20 – My daughter chose my outfit for me 🙂

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April 18 – saw this guy on my bike and his outfit made me smile, so I had to draw it 🙂

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BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT!

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Friends, I can’t believe I get to announce this dream come true. If you don’t mind indulging me, I will give you a quick timeline of how I got here:

I have always wanted to do a project combining my art and faith journey as a gay Christian. In late 2018 I thought of doing a kids book so that my kids, and other kids, could read it. I called it “Dear Younger (gay) Me”.

Nov 2018 – I had a call with Jennifer Knapp (childhood icon!) about an unrelated project we were going to collaborate on, and I brought up my book idea. She encouraged me to do it.

Feb 2019 – I started sketching storyboards & writing on the train to and from work. I was shocked at how quickly it all came pouring out of me. I reached out to Rachel Held Evans. (I wrote a guest post for her blog in 2014 and had kept in contact with her.) She wrote me back saying: “What a beautiful book, Stacey! I’m happy to share far and wide. Thank you for making this.”

May 2019 – I sent out my book idea on a whim to see if I could get an agent to represent me. Within four hours of sending it out, and to my total shock, I had two offers of representation. I signed with The Bent Agency in NYC a few days later.

July 2019 – My agent Claire sent out a formal book proposal to a bunch of editors and we wait. (I am learning publishing is a slow game!) Claire helps me evolve and expand my story from a kids book to a YA illustrated novel.

Oct 2019 – We are approached by Beaming Books who are very interested.

Nov 2019 – Beaming Books sends Claire a book offer to publish! Claire goes back and forth to negotiate the terms as I vibrate with excitement in the corner.

Feb 5, 2020I officially sign the book deal with Beaming Books!! They start a discussion about changing the name of the book to be more suitable for a YA audience. They land on “Still Stace: My Gay Christian Coming of Age Story (An Illustrated Memoir)”.

March 5, 2020 it is officially announced in Publishers Marketplace (above image) I can fiiiiiiiinnnnnnally share this with you all!!

I am beyond grateful for this opportunity. I am trying to do my best writing and drawing for the privilege to be able to represent a voice for the gay Christian community, and for younger me. ALL. THE. FEELS.

Children’s Bookshelf also shared my book deal in their list (below), and I still can’t believe this is happening. But it’s been a long road, so I’m going to celebrate each milestone! (In a perfect coincidence, I was having a dance party with the kids when the tweet came in! 😆) Click image for link.

 

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Stay tuned for updates as I continue to work on it!

Oscar Posters 2020

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It’s my fav time of year! I have loved the Academy Awards since I was a little kid, and my love of film has only grown since then. A few years ago, I decided to do a poster for any of the nominated films that I managed to see. I don’t get to use my graphic design skills as much anymore working in animation, so this is just a fun exercise to stretch those muscles. I will keep adding the ones I do for 2020 as I do them.

*See below for a gallery of past years posters!

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Previous years 2016 – 2019: