Friday, December 07, 2007


"Grayce (take two)" - 2.5 x 3.5" colored pencil on drafting film.
Copyright 2007 Maggie Stiefvater.
E-mail me at portraitswithcharacter AT to purchase art-card sized portraits ($40 each).

I don't consider myself an unfriendly person, but neither am I snuggly, cuddly, approachable or hands-on.

Since I've gone full-time as an artist, two years ago, I have read multiple studies on how hand contact will sell more product, and how a warm hug will often cinch a deal that a handshake wouldn't. Intellectually, I take that all in and think fascinating. Practically, I imagine putting the concept to use and think Cooties.

I just . . . I just don't like this whole hugging of strangers thing. I don't like hugging of friends thing. I hug my dog. I hug my dad. I hug my husband. In three entirely different ways. But otherwise -- hm. I'd rather eat bell peppers, and that's saying a lot.

The problem is, there's no real way to broadcast the fact of my anti-hugness without appearing unfriendly. Well, perhaps there is, but I've lost the knowledge as I've aged. In college I was broadly labeled as "scary" by those who knew me and guys would tell me that they had friends who wanted to ask me out but were too scared too. They would hoot when someone tried to lay a hand on my shoulder or otherwise pop a personal bubble which I prided on being no less than ten feet. On either side of me.

But now I seem to have people hugging me all the time. They can't help it. They mean well. They want to show me how glad they are to see me. They don't realize they're setting off all kinds of personal alarms and making the hairs on the back of my neck stand up like Carrot Top's hair.

I wish I had porcupine spines. Then I wouldn't have to say anything, you know? I'd be automatically repellent. And it would also be great for branding purposes, wouldn't it?

BUYER 1: Where did you find that awesome painting?
BUYER 2: That booth down near the entrance.
BUYER 1: Which one?
BUYER 2: The artist with the spines all over her body.
BUYER 2: I know just who you're thinking of.

Also spines would be great for organizing my life -- I'd never lose another business card. Just stab that sucker onto one of the spines and I'm a walking Rolodex.

Guys, I gotta go. I need to revise my Christmas list. Need me some spines.


dinahmow said...

Ahh, but it's the other people who have forgotten the body language!
You, being instinctively non-hug, will be giving off warning signals. Unfortunately,not everyone will be able to read-and-react.
Maybe we need to have flirting and non-hugging included in scool curricula?

Barbie Bud said...

Hi Maggie, This makes me think of another thing people do with out thinking, when you're pregnant and people you don't even know start patting your stomach. Talk about invading your space. Barb

Jo Castillo said...

You are just too sweet and cuddly looking .. on paper. I would probably give you a hug. :)

Great puppy portrait.

Tracy said...

Oooooh, I know exactly what you mean! When I'm not painting, I even make my living as a massage therapist, but still have boundaries around people not family.
so, despite paying my mortgage by having my hands all over people's bodies, I still am not a hugger unless you're my dog/cat, a blood relative, or a honey I'm dating.
I'm not alone! Thank you!

Alison said...

It's easy for me, I say "I'm British and we don't hug". Works most of the time, though when they realize I've been here 27 years they think I should have grown out of it by now. I haven't really.

Quilt Knit said...

eeehhhh! I am not a touchy feelly person either. When my boss comes up behind me. and puts Her hands on me. I just grinch! I loose my train of thought, it is so awful. My oldest sister has always had streph throat left and right. I of course taught my children to hug relatives. Well, Boys will be boys. They did not like to hug. My O. sister complained that the Boys were causing Her illness. So, I told the Boys - Ok. you no longer have to hug anyone you do not want to hug. Guess who complained? I told Her why.
Now, I see the beautiful picture is done on drafting film again. Which one do you prefer? .003 or .005?
Which brand do you like?

((( Circle of Hugs ))) the only real Hugs from me.


Lisa B. said...

I attended a school that had a hug circle painted on the floor. I got a button that read "if you come anywhere near me, I'll fart." Worked like a charm.

I need orange said...

Large and spiny necklaces. Several.

Arty. Unhugable.

Jeanette said...

Yep, I can identify totally with this. I'm a hug hater.

I'm the person who will give you the icy stare if you're half way up my ass in the line up at the supermarket. And comment if you insist on getting closer.

Sure I do the hug thing with close relatives (some) but the touchy feely thing? Where did that come from? Who decided that it was ok to grab complete strangers and press up against them? Ewwwww

Personal space = 3 feet. Come closer if you dare or if you're offering diamonds or gold.