Surviving Christmas the Memoirs Of a Visual Artist

Surviving Christmas?

surviving Christmas visual arts artist

Just About…

Well here we are, it is that time of the year when no one is going to be reading this blog, or more to the point and to be a little more specific here, I’m not going to be losing too many hits just because it happens to be Christmas week. 

Unlike some website owners I’m not sat here worrying that my CPC or CPM is down lower than the Titanic or that my SEO has gone out of the window for this post.  While y’all are worrying about Google keyword trends I’m sipping the Sherry and not giving a hoot about serps for the entire week. I have a steady green line on my analytics that appears just above zero, never changes and I would be worried that the Russians were taking control of the site if it did.

As for those ads I constantly have to review that appear on pages were people haven’t got a browser that switches them off, oh they have done so well this year. In 365-days they earned me about Twenty-Two English pence. AdSense otherwise known as Web Welfare must have been subject to government cuts. 

So that’s twenty-two English pennies closer to the Sixty English pounds threshold I need to hit before the money lands in my account. I call it my retirement fund because at this rate I will just about hit the jackpot of sixty English pounds when I reach the age of 68 in another 20-years. Always take the positives where you can, that’s what I have come to learn this year.

So I figured I can for once in the year write pretty much whatever the heck I want. If I fancy an expletive or two I can pop it in this post and nobody will ever know. If you are the one person who does read this blog I apologise. Normal service will be resumed and we can all get back to hawking our art but for now, you can have a couple of my observations from this festive time. 

For me the holiday season started on Black Friday as soon as I saw that someone had been trampled buying a bargain 50 inch TV from Walmart on the news. At that point it was officially Christmas. Don’t you think people seemed to be a little more restrained this year though?

They were certainly more restrained when it came to buying art. If I had no confidence issues before my epic Black Friday event, I definitely had them after. 

80% off my artist’s commission and not one code claimed. To be fair, I posted the offer on Facebook and forgot to upload a video of a fake news story to go with it. Had I have done that I would have been sat on a beach instead of watching a rerun of the 1976 Christmas special of the Two Ronnie’s.

To be fair my Mother in Law wanted one of those new fleece blankets with one of my artworks on so I ended up buying a plush model for her. Black Friday cost me money to buy my own stuff, go figure. 

She had seen my little ad-campaign on Facebook and I think she might have been the only person, either way she didn’t even know it was me. I didn’t even know she had a Facebook account so now I am worried that I might have let something slip over the years and she won’t talk to me ever again. Or, maybe I’m worried in case she doesn’t see anything and continues to talk to me? Still at least she’ll be warm and of course I love her dearly…

The Christmas wish I mean demand list arrived from my daughter back in January. On it was a £300 North Face jacket. Now for those unfamiliar with North Face, it is a clothing range designed for those climbing some of Mount Everest’s trickiest routes and who dangle precariously from ropes above a 20,000 feet drop in gale force winds and drifting snow.

These jackets are classified as essential professional mountaineering equipment, but the extent of outdoorsiness in our family is a road trip to the Mc Donald’s Drive Through, sometimes even KFC, depends which order we want cocking up the most. Do you want fires with that, no matter whether you say yes or no, you ain’t getting the fries. 

New Year’s Eve 2018

The festivities of course mean huge amounts of eating for most of us. We eat more than we would ever normally eat. It’s a time of year where we can test out just how much we can eat. 

Christmas lunch is one of those tests, I eat until I can eat no more. After 20 minutes everyone agrees when I say, I’m struggling here, not sure if I can eat much more. But your brain tells you that it’s the ultimate eating test and you carry on. 

10 minutes later I lean back in the chair almost on the verge of giving up when my wife says can anyone finish off these pigs in blankets, it’s like she upped the challenge and saying no would seem rude. 

40 minutes in and I can’t move. In fact I don’t think I will ever move again. I can’t believe how much I just ate, and then the announcement, that’s it. I’m done, I can eat no more. I can’t eat anything ever again. No more food. 

Then one hour after I have made the announcement I scurry into the kitchen and make a sandwich out of all the left overs. I can’t believe this, just an hour ago I had had given up on food, I could eat no more, I was done with food forever, and here I am making a sandwich. I have an amazing capacity for food. 

Where did this tradition even come from? Maybe it’s a Christian thing. Other religions will starve themselves over the holidays but Christians, no. It’s like Christians had someone pour through the bible looking for opportunities to eat to excess. 

Ok, I found it. It says that Jesus had a very large meal and then starved himself for 40-days and 40-nights. Let’s just focus on the big meal thing then and 40-days later we will make pancakes. 

What’s next? Well, it says that Jesus died on the cross. That’s a tricky one. Fine, we will place the symbol of a cross on a bun and we will call them hot cross buns. Anything else?

He was resurrected on a Sunday. Fine we don’t need to hear any more, we will buy chocolate and hide it in the garden. 

Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without traditions but there are some traditions that no one really likes, yet we carry them on. 

Hot wine but we call it mulled wine because it sounds less hypocritical because we have spent the past 12 months avoiding hot wine. Christmas comes and hot wine becomes a thing. Hot spicy boiled wine, it smells nice but after a couple of sips it cools to the temperature of real wine and then we find out exactly how bad it tastes so we abandon it. I have never met anyone who has ever finished a glass of boiled hot sweet mulled fruity wine. 

Brussels Sprouts, the thought of squashed vegetable fart balls makes me feel faint. Nobody likes them, there are at least twice as many left on the plate when you finish than there were when you started. I’m confident that when you’re not looking someone throws theirs across the table and it always lands on someone else’s plate. 

KFC never do Kentucky Fried Turkey so why do we eat this tasteless dry variant? We have to pour on Cranberry sauce and gravy just to get some flavour out of it and we stuff it with the meat we would rather be eating. More fart balls? Don’t mind if I do.

Christmas crackers, make sure you buy the good ones though, not the ones with those plastic golf tees. Clearly someone once looked at Christmas lunch and thought I know what we need, a paper hat, a bad joke and some toenail clippers.

We wouldn’t order this from a restaurant. You would finally finish the meal and just before asking for the cheque the waiter would ask if there is anything else you would like? Yes, I think a paper hat, a bad joke and a mini sewing kit would round this off quite nicely don’t you think. Oh, and can you make me a sandwich out of the leftovers, to go?

Now my daughter is older we no longer have to write letters to Santa. Now I get text messages to add to my reminders. But something has been troubling me for a number of years now and I figure this post is probably the best place to throw it out there. 

What happens to all the letters that Santa receives? Does he collate the names and addresses and personal information and sell it on to online marketing agencies? If he’s not then he is clearly missing out on a major revenue stream and he should be reading this blog every week while he’s waiting around to start work for one night each year. Perhaps he’ll click a few ads too?

Often these letters will contain some useful information especially when a child is not an only child. For it is within these letters that one child will spill the beans on a previous misdemeanour of a sibling. 

Is that information passed on to MI5 or the FBI or even the CIA? It should be, these letters could be run for fingerprints too if they can just break through the layer of ketchup and crayon which clearly works better than touch ID. I didn’t swap out my fingers so why is it not recognising them?

I admit that I took a look around his website and paid particular attention to his privacy policy. Apparently your information is important to Santa and he needs it to make sure that his naughty and nice list is accurate.

It also says that sharing is one of the joys of Christmas so any and all data is shared to whoever needs it including elves, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, Hanukkah Harry, and a number of legal firms who offer advice following an accident that you didn’t have. For a moment there I thought I was reading Facebook’s end user licence agreement.

Then come the outdoor Christmas lights. To say we have gone over the top again this year is an understatement. The national power grid weeps between 4pm and midnight when the timer kicks in. Hydro-electric damns open up, Tesla air drop emergency batteries over the local area, and the smart energy meter keeps reminding us just how expensive Christmas is. The glow can be seen for about a hundred miles. Local TV thought the Aurora Borealis was happening over Cannock and everybody ran outside in traditional Cannock costumes of track suits and fleeces.

To be honest I am just surprised that there have been no Police helicopters with thermal imaging cameras flying over the roof thinking that we now operate a cannabis grow house in the attic.

In the effort to make the house stand out a little more than everyone else’s it now looks like Christmas threw up.

And of course next week we’ll see bald Christmas trees on the side of the road like a mob hit. A car rolls down the road with its lights out and suddenly a door opens and out rolls a Christmas tree. They are going to be everywhere folks. Another dead Christmas tree found on the side of the road, I can see the local news headlines now.

I will be taking the Christmas cards to the local recycling point on Saturday. I had always wondered what my accountant’s family looked like and this year I got to see them on the front of the card he sent me. I also received a card from a family all dressed up in reindeer and Santa costumes and wearing masks but to be totally honest, I have absolutely no idea who they are. Still it’s better than the friend who thought it would be cool to let me know how his family are getting on by sending me a PowerPoint presentation on a USB stick. 

Christmas morning was filled with the usual exaggerated emotional responses of air-kisses because no one could find the energy after getting up at 4am to battle through the pile of Christmas wrapping paper that had built up in the middle of the floor because I had forgotten to add large plastic waste bags to the shopping list. 

It is also the one day of the year when my daughter wakes up without some teenage attitude issues or mumbling the words leave me alone or I just want to sleep that one would normally hear on a school day.

The two puppies were clearly loving it and had quickly learned to turn themselves into doggy shredders and the pile of paper had now extended up the stairs, into the bedroom, and into the garden, all in the tiniest of pieces. If you want to dispose of any evidence, give it to a puppy. 

By 5am I was inviting them to lick eggnog out of a glass I had left out for Santa and his reindeer the night before. Neither of them did but they did enjoy the carrot.

This is where we Brits do things differently to Americans. In America kids leave out cookies and milk. In Britain, we leave out carrots and alcohol. Nothing like encouraging a five year old to take up drinking and thinking that it’s still ok to drive a sleigh as long as you eat at least one of your five a day. 

The only question I really have is why on earth we are still doing this, our daughter is 15.

By 4pm the passive aggressiveness started because everyone by now had been up and awake for at least 13-hours, and someone said, “So who ate all of the good chocolates”. It is at this point I decided that the Michael BublĂ© Christmas album should be taken off the loop as everyone now wants a bit of quiet time. 

By 5:30pm we’re on our knees and so need everybody to go home because in one hour and thirty minutes it will be our usual bed time. Left over turkey and a buffet. I’ve an an amazing capacity for food. 

Now we just have New Year’s Eve to get through…

Christmas cracker 2018

Merry Christmas…

I hope you all had an amazing Christmas and I also hope that each and every one of you come back week after week to read this blog. Around 99,000 of you do so and I thank you all sincerely for bearing with me through the year, and for the support you have all shown for me, my blog, and my art and my rubbish jokes on social media. Some of them take weeks to write, the jokes, not the blog posts. 

Thank you for sharing my posts, loving, liking, and wowing, and for making me smile when life gets a bit tough.  Thanks to those who have purchased my art and hung it in their homes, and thanks to those who put faith in me to commission a new piece of art. For those who read this blog, I just hope that at least a few of the tips I bring you each week will have helped you at least in a little way and that whatever I create brings a smile to your faces.  

I hope too that next year you all sell way more art than ever before and that you all have many happy 15th of the months on print on demand. 

But most of all, I hope you all have fun in 2018 and that you all remain happy, healthy and wise. I’m going to be taking a few days off this week to spend time with my family, so don’t worry too much if I don’t pop up so often on Facebook. What am I talking about, I’m going to be on Facebook more than ever.

I would also like to thank my dear wife and daughter for putting up with me, for supporting me and critiquing my art like professional critics, and the reason why you only get to see about 10% of what I create. Thank you for the times when my Crohn’s flares and I’m grumpier than usual and thank you for believing in me and what I do. Love you both.

To each and every one of you, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and I sincerely hope you all have a joyous New Year.

Big Love,

Mark xx

About Mark...

Mark A. Taylor is a professional artist and blogger and lives in Staffordshire, England. His artwork is sold around the world and is available from or from more than 150 retail locations across the USA and Canada, including The Great Frame Up, Framing and Art Centre, and Deck the Walls. 

You can also buy a selected range of Marks work directly and each piece of work is signed. Look out for Mark’s limited edition works coming in 2018 together with a number of new collectibles featuring Mark’s artwork.

You can follow Mark on Facebook at 


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