For the Joy of It: Coyote Boy Vest
Reflections on making art for art’s sake
I have been reclaiming the creative freedom of my childhood by creating art for the joy of it alone. As part of this practice I am sharing reflections on the growing Joy of It collection I started in 2022. These are creative projects I’m doing for fun, for pleasure, for delight and whimsy! They are free of capitalist expectations of productivity and monetization.
My hope is that these reflections will inspire you to do things for the joy of it as well, as joy is a precious and unlimited feeling we could all use more of. Please leave a comment sharing anything you’ve been doing for the joy of it!
For the Joy of It, installation #5
Reading time: About 5 minutes
As a teenager, I found solace and community in the punk scene of my hometown. I never personally identified as a punk, since the music isn’t really my favourite and the aesthetic is counter to my preferred vibrant, jewel-tone wardrobe, but that didn’t matter. The thing about the punks (and the freaks, and the goths, and the weirdos) was that you didn’t have to “fit in” in order to belong. Punk shows were a total reversal to the confounding social politics of my Junior High.
At punk shows, no one bullied me for being different, for wearing a pale blue hoodie and bright blue jorts over purple and green plaid pajama bottoms and red and grey skate shoes.1 No one made me feel bad for how I dressed, cut and styled my hair, or how I accessorized. It was fine that I didn’t share the aesthetic because what mattered in these spaces wasn’t personal taste. What mattered was community.
In punk spaces, I re-learned how to open up to people. I realised not everyone was going to be hostile to me for just existing as my weird little self. After a two years of building up walls to protect myself from relentless bullying, I decided to let my guard down and approach a girl I shared a class with. She seemed cool and interesting, and we were clearly both in that ‘othered’ realm as our shared “class” was self-directed but supervised time in what was called the Resource Room. I was nervous as I approached her. She was sitting at a table writing a quiz or completing a worksheet—I’m not sure which.
“The answer is…a fish!” I said.
To this day, she remembers me doing this, and that it was so weird and random in a way she loved. Our friendship has taken different shapes over the years, but always maintained in one way or another.
Many of my nearest and dearest friends today—people who feel like chosen siblings—were friendships that formed in time spent at punk shows and hanging out Downtown. Including this friend, who now has a kid of her own. When I met her kiddo, this new extension of my Chosen Family, I knew right away I wanted to make a tiny denim vest for him—my little honourary nibling.
I spent weeks searching thrift stores for a denim jacket to modify and dug about online for fitting patches. It reminded me so much of my teen years thrifting for my wardrobe and decorating my hoodie with patches from the head shop we frequented. When I finally found the perfect jacket and all the patches2 I’d ordered arrived, I lay it out on my desk and played with what would go were. I chose threads from my own selection, a well as from a bunch my friend had recently gifted to me. In this way, even though the vest was a secret until I gifted it to the little bean for his first birthday, it felt a little like a collaboration with his mum.
It’s been twenty-four years since I attended my first punk show. I’m still not a fan of most punk music, but I can’t deny that hearing a punk song always brings me a little flutter of joy. It was fun to work on this vest and reflect on the fond memories I have of hanging out downtown with my friend, of goofy sleepovers3 and shaving our heads together. Who knows what kind of teenager this kid will be, what music he will like or aesthetic he will be drawn to. My only real wish for this kid is that he has the great joy of knowing friendships that last decades.
What are some projects you’ve been doing For the Joy of it? What are some spontaneous requests you’ve turned into creative gifts for someone you love?
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Okay, here are some photos for ya’ll…It’s possible that my wardrobe hasn’t actually changed much…
Support living artists! Thank you to Tyler of Three Raccoons for the excellent Coyote patch, Eleven of Fur.Box.Designs for the LandBack patch, NishGear for the Dreamcatcher patch, Carrot Creek Critters for Learn Your History & the bison patch, Emily of Riddle and Jinx for the Respect Indigenous Sovereignty patch, and SweetGrass by Heather for the Turtle Island patch.
This is just for you C: “Pink belly, pink belly, pink belly!” Gawd…we should not have been allowed to drink coffee.