There’s no denying, I’ve been victim of writer’s block lately. Creativity, ideas, inspiration, are all things that come in waves, and those waves are nearly impossible to manifest at will. One just has to ride them while they’re waving, then accept the void when they’re not. Sometimes that creative flow is in abundance for long stretches. That’s how I remember my time in NYC. But that well will always dry up for a while and you just have take your feet off the peddles and let it coast. I’ve been riding this bike for years and that seems to be the pattern.
I drew this in 1991. I remember it so clearly. I graduated from art school in ’90 and I was working at CPI One Hour Photo in the mall, living alone in a studio apartment #303 at 1415 Cook Street in downtown Denver. I spent most of my time alone with the TV on in the background attempting to draw a picture a day. It’s the thing I had to do to make myself feel worthwhile after art school. Every night, if I drew a picture I was happy with, I’d prop open my sketchbook next to my bed so I could validate my worth before I slept.
This particular evening I couldn’t sleep, so I gathered up my sketchbook, journal, pencils & pens and walked to a 24 hour diner on Colfax. Besides the people working I was the only one there, and this was the closest I could come to expressing what I felt. It’s exactly how I feel now. I know eventually those things will wave at me again, but this is my description of them not.
These last few months I have been in a dragging slump. My Jesus Dressup sales had come to a screeching halt and I had no idea why. Back in August I’d emailed Spencer’s Gifts images of my new Jesus Dressups, and much to my surprise they messaged back asking for hard samples! It was pretty exciting as I’ve never ever heard back from them before. I waited and waited, and it wasn’t until over a month later they finally emailed me their rejection. “Thank you, Bob, for sending the samples. We did enjoy the quality and creativity, but this product is not a fit for our current assortment.” They told me.
I’m able to bury my disappointed feelings pretty well, but unbeknownst to my consciousness, my subconscious was holding on tight. Then another email came in from a potential customer telling me they’d considered buying them off my site but noticed I had a “Not Secure” next to my URL so they wondered where else my stuff was available so they could buy from them instead. I’d never noticed that “Not Secure” until then, and realized I was probably not receiving orders because of this. The sadness was getting harder and harder to bury.
I contacted my host and all they had to do was checkmark some box and my site was secure again, but I’d felt the damage had already been done. I figured Google had dropped me from their searches or something because I’d been insecure for months. And I just went with this defeatist thinking for the next couple months assuming I probably just turned totally invisible to everyone on the internet now to the end of time. Until yesterday.
You see, yesterday I was working on setting up a way to sell my stuff on Amazon when I discovered I wasn’t receiving their verification emails. Bob@normalbob.com emails weren’t getting to me. So I contacted my host, again, and was casually informed that in August they’d “switched their system over” resulting in email forwarding no longer being a service they provide free of charge. So they just stopped forwarding those emails to my gmail, for three months.
It was then I panicked. I raced over to Paypal only to discover people had indeed been ordering consistently, emailing me to see why they’d not received their purchase only to get a “NOT A VALID EMAIL” response, then filing complaints to Paypal who was sending out refunds and fining me $15 for each. I’d fumbled the ball not checking Paypal closer during this draught. That was my fault. It was all just so terrible.
So yesterday my gf and I spent the day filling those 3 months of orders to those who’d not yet complained and racing to the post office before closing to ship ‘em. I was also sending refunds to those whose complaints I caught before being penalized, emailing direct apologies to those who’d gone full circle with purchase/complaint/no response/refund. It was such a shit show and I’m still not over the guilt of it all. Poor me.
I am now apologizing to you – Laura, Jason, Lars, Michael, Alexandra, Rachel and several others. You have no idea how much I hate that you tried to give me business, got no product, then rightly complained to no avail for however many months. If you order again and remind me you’re on this list I’ll happily ship you extra stuff to mend this blunder.
For the rest of you who ordered magnets in the last 3 months, it was shipped yesterday (Dec 2nd) and will arrive next week! Thank you for your undeserved patience. And there’s a couple orders to Canada and Australia that’ll take a little longer. I’ll be emailing you today.
Thank Baby Jesus I discovered all of this before Christmas! That would have been devastating. My heart and brain sink at the thought.
ANYHOW, my magnets are all still for sale, and I’m shipping them out next day now, including extra stuff in every order because I’m so appreciative of you all. Also scattered in this apology is art I was working on while my head was buried in the sand. Enjoy.
[UPDATE: Dec 5, 2022 – I’ve heard back from Paypal and despite all the issues I’m still in excellent standing with them. Business is back to normal and my site is 100% secure for making purchases.]
Lots has been happening here on this end in regards to my 4 newest Jesus Dressups. They’re such a perfectly beautiful collection sitting here before me, it’s hard to contain my excitement, and I’m not the only one! Finally I have STORES (plural) in Michigan! You’ve already heard me talk at length about Puzzle’s. Now I’m thrilled to announce Alpha & Omega Ink in Grand Rapids. You see, it’s one thing to find a place in Michigan, for god’s sake. It’s a whole other when those who work there are just as enthusiastic about them as I. That’s definitely the case with AO Ink. Go see for yourself. And get a tattoo while you’re at it!
The other big happening – I am now collaborating with a charity! Who woulda guessed? And it’s all thanks to my friend from Union Square, Qween Amor. You see, about a month ago I sent Qween a couple sets of Jesus Dressups as appreciation for her VOLUNTEER evangelizing spreading her love, joy & legs on the streets of New Orleans. Go visit her Instagram if you really wanna see what I’m talking about.
I’m just so super excited about this turn of events, having these back in NYC with true heathens who understand. I couldn’t ask for a more impressive advocates than these wonderful queens. If you see them, go buy my magnets from them!
There are indeed more exciting developments I’m not yet ready to reveal, but stay tuned. This could be another big year for Jesus Dressup.
There’s a new interview from Saturday with the Conservative AtheistPodcast. Despite the title it does not get political. We mostly discuss Amazing Strangers. It’s an hour long, so if you’re one of those who’s stressin’ about whether or not I’m returning, you should give it a listen. I share some stories you’ve probably never heard before and get pretty frank about the dangerous situations I experienced. I also reveal the whereabouts of a handful of “secret” videos I’ve had to keep unlisted for various reasons. Click here to listen.
In addition I’ve been creating more Neptune art, now on display at Puzzle’s Oddities. I’ve been LOVING the process of bringing the details of this world to life again. I seem to be given unlimited space at Puzzle’s to show them off so I don’t see me stopping any time soon. Bring on the ink!
Puzzle’s is also the only place in town where you can find my Jesus Dressup magnets, Normal Bob Smith Ministries Pamphlets and any other merchandise you’d want from me. Pay them a visit if you’re in the neighborhood!