This Limited-Edition Print Will Remind You That Angels Are Everywhere

Painting by Nicole Swerdlow, words by Zara Barrie

Like most girls who teem with a plethora of intense ~feelings~ I fiercely love art. I came tumbling out of my mother’s womb art-obsessed. In fact, art was the only AP class I ever took in high-school. I failed algebra C (the lowest level algebra offered in my public school). I think I managed to work my way up to a D minus in Chemistry. The rest is all a blur.

But in art, I was a star.

Not because I’m a great fine artist or anything (I’m not) but because I was so deeply fascinated by it. Art soothed me. It shook me out of the reckless spin-cycle of my brain and gently tossed me into the soft thud thud thud of my heart.

When I left home at eighteen and moved to LA I searched and searched and searched the city for cool prints to hang in my dismal, light-depleted apartment. I didn’t want prints from famous dead male artists, I wanted art from girls that were very much alive. From girls who saw the world as I did. From girls who understood that beauty and grit were inextricably intertwined.

Sometimes I would find cool prints — usually downtown in the garment district. I was in art school at the time, studying theatre, and whenever I’d swing by one of my art-school friend’s apartments to smoke weed or toss back boxed wine they usually had the same print duct-taped to the crumbling walls of their own sad living rooms.

That was fine — I guess — but I longed for something unique. But every print deemed “limited edition” or “one of a kind” that actually spoke to me seemed to be way out of my price range. (I made $8.00 per hour folding clothes in a notorious boutique known for their $700 sweatshirts and celebrity clientele).

This is when I started writing words across my bedroom walls with a sharpie. Scrawling letters on the tarnished white wall seemed to be the only thing that satiated my longing for affordable art that was different. I wish more art came with words on it I would think to myself as I gracelessly slid ink across an old paint job without thinking of security deposits or any other of those consequence-driven headaches because I was still a teenager and that’s the beauty of being a teen. You don’t think so far ahead.

One day, in the thick of my quarantine depression, I found myself mindlessly scrolling through my Instagram DMs. In a state of self-sabotage, I had recently dyed my hair the color of Velveeta cheese. My forehead had broken out into tiny little cysts of adolescent-style acne and I’d been wearing the same dirt-cheap barbie pink robe for four consecutive days. My hygiene was suffering. My soul was suffering. My creative-drive was suffering

Until —

I came across a painting by artist Nicole Swerdlow.

Artist Nicole Swerdlow

It was a black and white portrait of Lana Del Rey, my higher power.

It was soul-capturing and beautiful and it felt like a sign from Lana herself. I envisioned Lana sitting on some sort of giant pearl in heaven, slowly sipping on a Pepsi Cola whilst intermittently popping blood-red cherries into her freshly-injected lips.

“Bitch, you know the only way out of the darkness is through creating.” I imagined Lana cooing. In my mind’s eye, she pouted at me and batted her long, fluttery lashes. They looked like angel wings. She exhaled a puff of Juul smoke and winked. It was Lana’s version of smiling and I took it very seriously.

“Let’s collaborate” I messaged Nicole, even though we’d never met.

“YES,” she wrote back, even though we’d never met.

For the next several months we met weekly over ZOOM and brainstormed until our brains began to create electric bolts of lightning. It struck our minds at once: We both wanted to create something that had meaning but still managed to be cool and non-pretentious.

EVERY TIME A TRUTH IS REVEALED A DEPRESSED ANGEL GETS HER WINGS.

EVERY TIME A TRUTH IS REVEALED A DEPRESSED ANGEL GETS HER WINGS.

EVERY TIME A TRUTH IS REVEALED A DEPRESSED ANGEL GETS HER WINGS.

These words kept popping off in my brain like little baby rockets.

I guess those words just felt like my life mantra?

I guess those words just felt what The Crazy Sad Babes Club is about at her core?

I guess it’s the message that’s saved me from slipping through the ice all those times the weather took an unexpected turn.

It’s the steady hand that’s pulled me out of the freezing-cold water and carried me, trembling limbs and all, on to the dry ground.

Your deepest, most-frightening truths — all the sh*t from your past that you’re terrified to confront — that’s what will ultimately serve as the bolt-cutters that set us free from shackles of shame. When someone speaks tells the truth, it’s as if something godly enters the room. An energy is released into the ether that is more powerful and more beautiful and more life-saving than any motivational talk or static advice could dream of being.

The truth is like a prayer that always works.

And when a truth is revealed all of us sad angels finally get our wings. Even if it’s not our truth. The truth is such a mighty force it frees everyone who hears it or feels it or sees it — even if that truth slips out of the unfamiliar lips of stranger.

I knew this had to be the text of the art we were set to create. And Nicole intrinsically knew that our angel had to be a bad bitch. With tattoos. And flaws. And pain. And vices, like smoking.

I mean how many living angels have you met on this earth who completely tear down the stereotype of what an angel is “supposed” to look like? I’ve met heavenly angels blacked out in the darkest of bars. My human eyes have met angel eyes from across a crowded subway car. An angel is the dyke with the shaved head whose name I’ll never know, who rescued me from getting pulled into a car by a bunch of scary-looking dudes when I was twenty-years-old trying to get a cab home on Halloween night. An angel is my mom in her Dr. Marten boots and long blonde hair holding her best friend’s hand as he died of AIDS. An angel is the guy I heard deliver the Valedictorian speech when I went to visit a friend in a maximum-security prison facility. He’ll be there for life. But his wings span far beyond the cement cage he’s locked inside.

Bottom line: Angels are all around us. And most of them don’t wear all-white and have flawless skin. But all of them — all of them — have one crucial thing in common: They worship at the altar of the truth. Even when the truth is disease or incarceration or sexual assault. They confront it. They look the demon in the eye. And their ability to grasp hands with honesty, renders the rest of us saved. Their ability to step into the dark and flip the switch is what allows us to see that tiny beam of light at the end of the dark tunnel of regret and shame and guilt and fear.

So this is our art angel baby. We love her. Nicole killed it. I’m so proud to know her.

And guess what? These prints are extremely limited-edition. Yet still affordable. And it was created by two girls who struggle and love recklessly and are gay AF and loud AF and cry often and sometimes can’t handle the painful cruelty of the world — but goddamn do we recognize the epic beauty in the breakdown. This work is created by girls like you. For girls like you.

Hang our holy beautiful bad girl in a special place to remind you that so many things can be true at once. Give her to a friend to remind her that her unabashed honesty is the only thing that will ever catapult her into the air. Gaze into her eyes and remember that all the sh*t you’re embarrassed by — is the sh*t that makes you f*cking magic.

PRINT is HIGH-QUALITY MATTE 11 X 15. Each print is signed and comes with a special hand-made affirmation designed to stick on your bathroom mirror so you never forget who the f*ck you are.

This high-quality print was originally hand-painted with acrylic by esteemed artist Nicole Swerdlow with words written by viral internet writer and critically acclaimed author Zara Barrie. PRINT is HIGH-QUALITY MATTE 11 X 15. Each print is signed and comes with a special hand-made affirmation designed to stick on your bathroom mirror so you never forget who the f*ck you are. Please allow 24-hours for processing. International shipping rates will be calculated upon checkout.

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