Goth Guts

As an awkward mousy teenager in high school, I was curious about the shiny happy popular girls who always seem to have it together. They had perfect hair, perfect clothes, the perfect boyfriend to go along with their perfect lives.

It was the goth kids I really admired though. I respected their audacity to stand out in high school. To me, who did her best to blend in and disappear, those kids had guts.

My husband, who I did not meet until after high school said he imagined I was a goth girl in high school, and I was, but without the clothes, black makeup or good taste in music.

Horror Hailey is a goth fashion guru. I’m a follower of her Instagram feed. Here she is as a Bitty Baddy.

Instagram @horrorhailey

The 100

Well I didn’t make my Kickstarter goal, but alas all is not lost. Here’s what I learned.

  • I have incredible people around me who are willing to support my crazy art ideas!
  • I’ve learned how to set up a Kickstarter (this was my first).
  • I know the ins and outs of self publishing.
  • People love my spawn almost as much as I do.
  • There is interest and a coffee table book.

My plan for the future is to revisit the coffee table book idea when I have reached 100 Bitty Baddies. I’m currently at about 55, so some time next year be on the look out for a new Kickstarter.

Special thanks to all of the lovely people who pledged and shared the Kickstarter. You’re a wonderful amazing humans and I am so blessed to know you.

Terran Empire Publishing
Catherine T. O.
Serena K
William D. H.
Trina K-A.
L. Williams
Tim H.
Jeremy Y.
Michael S. S.
Jade P.
Carol R.
Joshua L.
Colleen C.
Troy D.
Margaret S.
Sarah J.
Darrel H.
Syed H.
Tara R.
Robert P.
Andrea D.
Patricia S.
Michelle D.
The Creative Fund
Sunny Brewer
Anonymous (2)

The MARVELous Mrs. Obama

It was 2008 when I first heard the name “Barack Hussein Obama” and my reaction was “Yeah right! No way does a name like that get elected president.” I did not have faith that my countryman would see beyond a name that rhymed with Osama and included the name of Hussein (because of Saddam Hussein).

Against all odds he became the democratic nominee. I was inspired. I was the aunt to a biracial girl (who I doted on) and girlfriend to a American born Bangladeshi man. I was personally invested in electing our first African American president.

I drove the local Republicans nuts by bringing a life-size cut out of Barack out to dinner with me more than once in the weeks before the election. I anxiously watched the results come in and I was filled with hope when my country elected Barack Hussein Obama as our 44th president.

During his 8 years in the White House I felt safe and secure with him at the helm.

I loved Michelle’s mantra “When they go low we go high.”

I was equally disappointed and scared when the United States elected the amoral misogynistic reality star Donald Tump as our 45th president.

I literally mourned for days as I felt like my countrymen failed me by not seeing how thoroughly unfit he was to be president.

Since that November day I anxiously read the news every evening, trying to be vigilant in my role as a citizen.

Recently I read Michelle Obama’s “Becoming.” I was moved to tears more than once. Listening to her words I felt a kinship to a fellow mom, professional woman and optimist who wants to believe humanity is more good than bad.

The memoir covers her life from a young girl doting on her dolls, to the moment as the first black First Lady leaving the White House after Barack Obama’s two terms in office.

To me, the Bitty Baddies Art series is a examination of villainy. What causes it. It’s motivations. It’s path.

In reading Michelle Obama’s book I found a hero. A woman that I admire for her dislike of politics, but willingness to serve anyway when called to.

It just so happened that I was driving by an American flag when Michelle Obama said these words (via Audible)…

I’ve never been a fan of politics, and my experience over the last ten years has done little to change that. I continue to be put off by the nastiness—the tribal segregation of red and blue, this idea that we’re supposed to choose one side and stick to it, unable to listen and compromise, or sometimes even to be civil. I do believe that at its best, politics can be a means for positive change, but this arena is just not for me.”

People who become leaders out of necessity I believe are the most true to their post. They’re less likely to be swayed by the power or the fame to act as anyone other than who they are.

Her words in that moment made me look at the American flag differently. It’s segregated blue with stars butted up against the red and white stripes. Not mixing, not melting together as perhaps they should be.

This is the image that sprang to mind.

Thank you Michelle Obama for answering the call with incredible grace and dignity. You’re a true hero.

Taking a chance…

Once upon a time I went to a Supernatural convention. I was underwhelmed and rather disappointed. I chalked it up to a learning experience and realized actors can be rather cranky.

As a hardcore introvert, the thought of the masses all wanting to engage and a piece of my energy sounds hellish. Who wouldn’t be cranky?

On the first evening of the Motor City Nightmares convention I approached an actor about getting an autograph. As a vendor, I was trying to get it done lickety split so I could get back to my booth. The actor was less than gracious as I approached. He was chatting with another actor and told me to come back.

I didn’t go back.

To me the experience is much more important than the ink on the page. The negativity of the encounter soured me to attempting to get any other autographs.

Fast forward – last day, near the end of day I decided to take a chance and get Clive Barker to sign my Bitty Baddies Pinhead before he left. Afterall, when would I ever have the opportunity again?

I’m so glad I did. He was kind, engaged and even asked me to email him my NIGHTBREED piece.

I sensing a trend.

Creators = Kind

Actors = Asshats

Old Trauma

When I was six years old my mom had to have one of her kidneys removed because of cancer. Too young to realize the gravity of the situation, I was heartbroken when my dad left me with a neighbor I didn’t know well. I was so upset my dad even commented on it in a letter he wrote his sister back then.

Science has shown that we will often remember fearful events better than neutral or happy ones.

Vividly, I remember crying alone in an unfamiliar bedroom.

This memory of this trauma has never left me. As a parent I’ve never spent more than 24 hours away from either of of my children. I’m a homebody. A perfect day for me is some work in the a.m., followed by an evening spent at home with my husband and children.

When I do go out for a rare evening with girlfriends I feel some guilt. Parental guilt… it’s a thing. I’ve gotten better as they’ve gotten older. I realize it’s good for them and me.

This afternoon I’m heading to the 3-day show Motor City Nightmares. For two nights and three days I’ll be away from my little people and I’m feeling excited, anxious, grateful and full of guilt. What if I miss something? What if they need me? I’m so thankful to have a husband that supports me in my creative endeavors.

I’m a mess of emotions… such is the nature of being a mother I suppose.

How do they justify it?

While some may argue, I think most people know climate change is a reality. I understand the power of greed. I now understand why my mom Frances Parmann, who was a career waitress, used to say “Republicans work for the rich and we’re poor. So we’re democrats.”

I remember arguing with her because my dad who was a veteran, and a Christian, particularly loved the republican leaders of his time. He even wrote an opinion piece about abortion that they published in our local paper, the Times Herald.

My dad died when I was just seven. He was a wonderful father who actually played with his children. Once, he even set up a “carnival” in our backyard for me and my neighborhood friends. He loved my sister and me fiercely and we missed him terribly when he was gone.

For a long time I held his Christian beliefs as sacred doctrine. This seems to happen when someone dies. We idealize them as some sort of perfect being.

Eventually, with the help of a counselor, I had to develop my own moral compass, instead of defaulting to my dead father’s. I realized I was a poor liberal pro-choice atheist and my ideals more closely matched that of democrats.

2018 Election

Back to climate change… if greed motivates republican policy maker’s decisions and that is what fuels their denial. Do they truly NOT believe in climate change or just publicly deny it because it is at odds with their greed? I view politicians with some major reservations. From my perspective, to pursue and achieve that amount of power means they could be characterized in the following broad categories: (

  • The Narcissist
  • The Obsessive Compulsive
  • The Machiavellian
  • The Authoritarian
  • The Paranoid
  • The Totalitarian

Not exactly a stellar list of personality types that scream hero. I daresay, they sound like villains!?

For me, leadership roles have always come from my “well if no one else will step up, then I guess it has to be me.” mentality. As a creative/visual thinker I do have ideas I’d like to see implemented, but I don’t pursue power or enjoy the great responsibilities that come with it. It’s complicated and I prefer life to be simple.

So back to republican politicians – they deny climate change and roll out political agendas that benefit big business (big money) at the expense of the planet.

These same politicians are parents and grandparents. As the policies they enabled allow for more and more damage to our planet how do they justify it when they look at their children and/or grandchildren – the generation who will inherit this planet?

I get greed, but I don’t get that.

Targaryen Tyrant: the Fiery Fan Favorite

<SPOILERS> Daenerys Targaryen is arguably the most popular Game of Thrones character. I get it, she started out weak and has become one of the most powerful players in the pursuit of the iron throne. Her journey is inspiring… and she hatched dragons (which instantly made me want to be an Targaryen).

Is it possible to seek that level of power and still be a good person? I feel like ambition of that magnitude only comes with some psychopathy.

For me, leadership roles have come my way for two reasons:

  1. I don’t like being told what to do. I want to steer my own ship.
  2. I see something I want for my <community/business> and I realize it’s up to me to make it happen.

I don’t particularly enjoy managing people, but that is exactly what a life in politics would demand, right?

For monarchies, leaders are born – literally. They grow up believing that it is their god-given right to rule.

In the final season of GoT, fans are speculating that Daenerys will go the way of her father, the Mad King, and become the “Mad Queen.”

I’d argue that she already qualifies as a villain with the fiery slaughter of the Lannister forces who refused to “bend the knee.” How many deaths can be laid her feet because of her pursuit for power? Doesn’t the collateral damage of innocents qualify her as a bad guy?

Coffee Table Book

It’s begun!

The Coffee Table Book Kickstarter officially started 8 days ago. Today the project is 10% funded. Not too shabby! I’m blessed with an incredible circle of friends and family who are wonderful about supporting my crazy art ideas.

For the uninitiated, here’s how Kickstarter works:

You can pledge whatever you are comfortable with.

There are pledge levels that get you rewards including the actual coffee table book!

If/when I reach my goal of $5000 you’ll be notified via email and this is when your pledge transforms, quite magically, into an investment in the BITTY BADDIES coffee table book.

When fullly funded, I’ll work madly to get the book and rewards printed and shipped to you!


How did you come up with this idea?

The short answer to this oft asked question is, “I’m a mom, and a boss where I work, so I’m often a ‘bad guy’.”

The Long Answer

It all started with a bad day at work – a confrontation with an employee had me questioning my “bad guy” image. Was I really bad? My husband is the poster child for “nice guy” who never has these problems. In this particular instance, an employee (who was known for being a bully) was rude and I had only stood up for myself. How does that qualify as villainy?

My favorite people in the world are my family. They are a common theme in my art and I like to try on different styles that I think compliment their personalities. It was in the spirit of this exploration that created the perfect storm that spawned the idea of the Bitty Baddies.

I’d watched Tim Burton’s movie “Big Eyes”, a biopic on Margaret Keane’s life as an artist, that made me fall in love with her beautiful style. My son Judah has big beautiful “Disney” eyes that he inherited from his father that inspired me to paint a portrait of him using her style. Altogether, with the birth of a new baby, it took me about 2 years to finish. It was nearing completion when the aforementioned “bad day” at work happened.

“Judah Big Eyes”

Villains weren’t always bad. How did they become bad? What about their life twisted them? Are they really bad or is some villainy a matter of perspective?

I think good art makes people think, makes people question reality and personal truths.

Margaret Keane’s big-eyed waifs convey a sense of innocence and vulnerability that when paired with real and imagined villainous personas makes for a striking contrast.

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The creative process includes research of the character’s back story. The tv-shows, movies, documentaries and/or books that tell the story are the background noise I hear as I re-create them as a Bitty Baddies. It’s fun to revisit old horror movies that I haven’t watched since I was a kid.

Taking the Bitty Baddies to conventions where I can nerd out with others like me is a nice social outlet for the introverted geek that I am.

In short, the Bitty Baddies are my personal art therapy and passion project. Selling prints, postcards and pins featuring them is an enjoyable way to support my “art habit”.

A Love Letter to Apple

Dear Apple,

I love my iPad Pro as a mom on the go.

Before I had kids I painted with acrylic on gigantic canvases.

I made a mess while I made art.

After kids there was no time or space to make art.

Then I found you my dearest iPad Pro and Apple Pencil.

No need for brushes, paint or canvas.

You don’t take up a lot of space. You are portable and mess free.

Thank you and I love you.

Jody Parmann