When I started blogging, I wanted to try to use my space to highlight the amazing, everyday people who are doing wonderful and positive things. This week, I want to introduce you to The Happy Chappo.
The Happy Chappo is a small business that produces unique and funky art that encourages people to be themselves – Steven (The Original Chappo) is non-binary and their work shines with the message ‘it’s cool to be different’! Their instagram is a zesty place whilst also being filled with honest posts about difficulties with mental and physical health. Steven inspires me on a regular basis and deserves more recognition – I wanted to introduce you to them so they can shine some light onto your life too! Here’s what they had to say…
Basic Chappo info:
Hello, my name is Steven! I’m a Non-Binary illustrator living in the countryside in West Yorkshire. I have 4 cats and one of them is named after my favourite biscuit (Figgs).
Origins of The Happy Chappo:
My nanna used to buy me those big, colouring in cards where all the black was made of felt – you couldn’t go outside the lines and you only got 3 felt-tips, so you had to colour people in blue or some other ridiculous colour! Every time I got pocket money I would spend it on more pens or pencils or sketch books and that is still the case in my 30s.
They used to tell you ‘art isn’t a career’ when you were growing up though, so I focused on Maths in my education and ended up in office jobs that made me pretty miserable. In 2015, my partner and I got a chance to raise money for Mind by hosting a little Christmas stall in my work cafeteria. She made Christmas tree decorations and I designed Christmas cards. We ended up raising £600 over a couple of lunch breaks. That made me realise that, not only could I do this for a career, but I could also use it to help charities close to my heart. Now 10% of my online turnover is donated to Mermaids UK who help gender diverse or trans children and their families in the UK.
The most enjoyable thing about The Happy Chappo:
So much! I appreciate getting to do what I love everyday! It’s been a tough year, on a personal level, so having this job to fall back on is something I appreciate everyday. Drawing is definitely still what I enjoy the most – I love coming up with ideas and accidently making myself laugh or showing Becky (my partner) a drawing I’ve done that makes her laugh. Laughs are what I live for really. I miss markets too. You get a lot of laughs there.
Positive things about your experience of coming out as Non-Binary:
OMG, there’s so much positivity about my whole experience… I’ve made new friends in similar situations and found a community of people that make me feel so at home in a body that has repulsed me for 30 years. My marriage is significantly happier and my relationships with my friends have all been escalated. Being honest with my surroundings has removed a wall that I was hiding behind and it’s great to feel so much closer to the people I love.
I think I was very scared to come out at first because of what it would mean for these relationships, but what I’ve learned, that I would always pass on, is that being your honest self leads you to your people. If your current friends don’t like that you’re bisexual or non-binary then they were never your friends in the first place and you will find better ones – the chances are they will love you more for coming out.
The toughest thing about online work:
There are a lot good about the work online for sure. You get the occasional stalker/hater that DMs you vitriol and abuse or puke emojis for days, but the block button is pretty effective at stopping that 🙂 In the last year, most people have learned a lot about their friends and their beliefs, and I think a few of my fallouts were more public that I would have liked – but if that is a cost of living honestly, I’m happy to pay. I kinda get giddy when someone steals my idea, because thats how you know you’re doing well, when other people think you’re worth copying!
A song that always cheers you up or makes you want to dance:
‘Neighbourhood #2 – Laika’ by Arcade fire – I first heard it when I was 17 and not in a great place and it always reminds me how far I’ve come. Also it has the best accordion solo.
One thing that helps you on the bad days:
I love getting a bit fancy with my eyeshadow just to sit around and draw! Hot water bottle, all day hugs are also pretty darn helpful and I have 4 big floofy cats for a good reason.
A quote or mantra you live by:
‘What is for you wont go by you!’ A reminder for when things feel incredibly uphill, or like I’m making no progress, that I will get there if I’m supposed to. It really helps when you get rejected by markets and shops too.
So there we go, that’s Steven – you can find them on The Happy Chappo website, Instagram, Etsy and Patreon! You can also access the Mermaids Trust for more information on transgender, non-binary and gender diverse topics. I hope Steven has inspired you to be your sparkly self in the way that they do for so many people.
Stacks of love,
P.S. Did you catch my last post about getting back into blogging? Check it out!