Good People, Cool Things
Good People, Cool Things

Episode 63 · 1 year ago

63: How to Bee Better with Ali Beckman of SoFlyTaxidermy

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Do you feel yourself getting the creepy crawlies whenever you think about bugs? Or do you find them fascinating and get excited whenever one sneaks its way into your home?

Today’s guest definitely falls into that second group. Ali Beckman is the brains behind SoFlyTaxidermy and JUST launched her book (like, for real, it came out yesterday), Bee a Good Human: A Pollinator’s Guide to a Better Life.   

Ali uses creatures that are donated, purchased, or found dead to create amusing cartoons and highlight the key roles insects play in our environment. Pollinators come in all shapes and sizes — for example, a tiny midge pollinates chocolate while beetles can pollinate certain flowers — and Ali showcases them with her work and shares how they keep our ecosystem thriving.

Her art also highlights the importance of loving yourself and finding confidence to say that, yes, you can do anything you put your mind to. That’s a pretty cool thing. We’re also talking about our pups and how you can become Instafamous…or at least what Ali has done to grow her account.

Good people, cool things. As a podcast feature in conversations with entrepreneurs, writers, musicians and other creatives. Get inspired by their stories to do your own cool thing, and here's your host, Joey held. Welcome to good people, cool things. Today's guest is a popular instagram artist and Yoga Teacher, Ali Beckman, whose book be a good human, a pollinator's guide to a better life, just came out. Happy Book Launch. Alley will be talking all about that. Alie is the creative mind behind the so fly taxidermy, not softly taxidermy, as well learn, but so fly taxidermy instagram account, which illustrates the importance of pollinators. Will offering a ton of great self confidence, self love and things that really just make you feel good. She uses creatures that are donated, purchased or found dead to create amusing cartoons. Allie uses creatures that are donated, purchased or found already dead to create amusing cartoons. She's ethically sourcing all of her insects here, while highlighting the integral role that they have in our environment. So there's lots of good stuff to be found here. Between insects. They're not so bad. You don't have to run away in terror after seeing them. Importance of love and yourself being confident and love and others too. Let's I'll just be kind to each other. It's literally what the book is basically called. Be a good human it's not so hard. If you like to support good people cool things, you can do so via the shop. Good people, cool thingscom shop. Lots of fun shirts, hats, hoodies, mud's, all that good stuff for your enjoyment and and really use. I mean these are all things you'd use in your daily life. Mugs for coffee, shirts for staying warm and clothed and not having to not wear a shirt while you're out in about. Lots of good stuff. It's wonderful. You'll enjoy it. I hope you do, but for now, here's the conversation, with a lie. To start, I like to take a cliched question, which is give us your elevator pitch, but I also like to add a twist to it by having you tell us what kind of elevator were on as you're giving this pitch. Well, I don't really take elevators because they're too confining, but let's see, so we might be on stairs then. Is What you're saying now we're in this, we're on stairs. Okay, well, it's stairs. My my stair pitch. I would say that I take ethically source dead insects and draw around them, and I have for going on five years now. So how? How? I think the first question, and it is probably how, like what inspired you to Oh, how did you even learn it was a thing? Well, it's not a thing. I made as a thing,...

...and I made a thing because at the time I had drawn a few comics for this guy I was interested in. Of course I was trying to impress someone. But I came home one day and I found two dead flies lying next to each other and the thought of them having a conversation before they passed I just couldn't get that out of my head. So I decided to pick them up and have them talk to each other on a piece of paper. And that was December of two thousand and sixteen, and I honestly I've done it every single day since. That's so wonderful. To initial follow up questions. One, what was the conversation they were having, and to did it impress the guy? Okay, first question. Oh, you know how, back in two thousand and sixteen, everybody was like, I could literally die right now. Yes, so it was something along the lines of that. I I have it somewhere. It's on instagram somewhere, but I think it was just two thousand and sixteen. has been such a terrible year. I could literally die right now, and it was so funny to me that a dead a dead thing, would say that. I don't know. And then I just started collecting dead bugs and it kind of took off from there. It didn't happen overnight. Like I said, I've been doing this. It's going on five well, in December it will be five years. And then it did impress the guy, but not in the way that I wanted it too. Could I ask what that means? We're actually still really good friends and in the book I thank him in my little page where I can thank people, and he actually wrote a blurb for me too. So it's all in good fun. But we never romantically got together. We just remained friends. Okay, okay, I guess that makes more sense. I don't know why I thought it was like he got very impressed and then just started killing bugs everywhere and let's do more of this. So that's no surprisingly he did not fallen. So it's all right, always good, always good, and that's one of the key things that you're not going out and killing these bugs. They're all ones that you have found or have been sent to you, it seems like, in some cases, or other methods. So how do you come across your collection? So I if you start looking around, once...

...you get it in your head that dead bugs are a thing, you'll see them everywhere. When I started doing this I lived in a really old house that was built in the eighteen hundred, so it just had urns of dead insects all around window seals corners. And then you know, if you let spiders live, they'll kill the insects for you. And then recently I started working at an old hotel and there's a chapel and I found I made something the other day. It was a time flies piece and it was a clock and each for each number it was the number of flies. So I had seventy three flies and I found them all and this old chapel. So I mean I do search for them and into Malagists have sent me there bugs after they're finished with their studies. I have be keepers that sid either hives after they die. So yeah, they're all ethically sourced. And is there something that you're looking for specifically with them? Like more so, I guess, when you are finding them and not having them sent to you. But is there? Is it mostly just like they need to be largely intact, or is there other are there other qualities or attributes that you're looking for? Oh No, just intact. Yeah, that's it. I will say I don't, I don't accept house cockroaches. I do have some hissing cockroaches. Those were said to me by an entomologist, so they were very well taken care of, but I don't, I don't accept cockroaches. That is fair. Is there any one that's I don't want to use the term bucket list, but like one that you haven't worked with that you'd like to see, like what's your what's your Mobi Dick? I guess. Well, you know, I think I've already got it. I have a praying mantis that I think is three years old, dead and a woman sent it to me after she found it dead, and so I take very good guit care of my dead insects. They all have their own special place on my shelf and then someone sent me a sunset moth, which you should google. It's just absolutely beautiful. Most people mistake it with a butterfly because of how gorgeous it is.

And then someone from Arizona sent me a Scorpion they found. So I don't really have a bucket list for bugs. It's just whatever dies naturally and I sent my way since that. Moths are really beautiful. Yeah, they are gorgeous, color, so intense, and you mentioned how you take good care of these. So what goes into that? Like how do you keep them? I mean, have you had this Mantis for three years or was it sent to you like somewhere along the way after it? No, I've had it for three years. So I have I just get little boxes and put them in and when I handle them I'm just very careful. I use tweezers and yeah, I'm just really careful, I guess, because I don't I get really sad when I accidentally crush a bug. It happens a lot with flies, but luckily I have an abundance of d flies right now. That's good. It's good to have an excess, I think, than being it is it is. And where do your ideas come from as far as you have had them, have conversations, you had a clock. It's it's like such a nice variety of stuff that I you know, it seems like maybe there's there's a limit to it, but I don't think you found it yet. Like, yeah, I haven't found a limit and I think that there are so many insects in this world and I don't know if I'll ever reach a limit. To be honest. Do you have an eye, idea bank of things for because I I mean, I know as as creatives like three hundred sixty five days being creative all the time, it's kind of hard to pull off. So for those days where you're like, I don't know, I've got nothing, do you have like a bank that you can pull from? Honestly, I've kept every so this is what I do. I take the insect, I place it on a piece of paper and then I draw around it and then I'll take the insect and put it back in its box. So I just have notebooks filled with drawings, without the insects, of course. I mean I I have shelves and shelves of notebooks. So if I'm ever feeling uninspired, I just go back and look at my old work and hope something POPs up or also, Gary Larson is a great inspiration for me too, so I'll just flip through his books see if anything pops up. Do you have a favorite Gary Larson cartoon or strip? I should say...

...it's the mine where the bugs are in church and Jesus is a squished bug on the soul of a shoe. That's probably my favorite one. Very Nice, very nice. I think it's always fun to get people to describe a comic strip because it's such a visual media. But it's well done, well done, and so like. Like you would said at the beginning, this is not really a thing. Like this wasn't a thing and you made it a thing. Yeah, you on Instagram are nearing, or maybe have even surpassed, since last time I looked, two hundredzero followers, which now I'm nearing the past. I haven't surpassed. Maybe by the time this airs. We're future enthusiastic here, so by the time people are listening to this, you'll be well surpassed, probably like five million by that point at the rate you've been ring so like. Clearly there's an audience for this. So how did you kind of, I assume, kind of stumble into instagram influencer life. Well, I definitely wouldn't call myself an influencer, but and I do I know. Nope, I tried to sell one product one time and I hated it. I hate selling things to people. But anyways, sorry, that was a not now I need to hear what the product was. Oh, it was just funny. It was a honey and I don't know, people like get your honey local, you know, don't, don't buy it. I don't think I can actually do it's so never mind. By your honey local. There are plenty of beekeepers around you, no matter where you are, and there's even urban beekeeping. So there you go. Now I forget the question you asked. Oh, how did I how did I get the following I have? Honestly, if you whatever you're doing, if you take it and you create something every day in your consistent with that, it just will happen. I mean, I didn't get a hundred. I have a hundred and seventy seven thousand followers, but that didn't happen and overnight. It's been years in the making. Yeah, I think that's people look at at huge followings and they're like Oh, like they just got luckier, like they found the magic formula or whatever, and it's like no, there's no magic for meals. It's just like creating, putting it out there. And also, I will say, if you're artwork or content is shareable, that definitely helps. That is true. The long pages of text that I say...

...sometimes on Instagram via image form, I'm just like it's probably less less likely, to be sure, but yeah, all of yours. I think it's very easily accessible and super easy for people to get into and I think this is a nice sort of added benefit to something that looks good. Is that a lot of these creations are promoting, you know, having confidence in yourself and self love and stuff like that. Why is that something that's important to you to promote? Honestly, I mean I'm still working on all of those things myself, but I've said it online before and my audience is mostly women between, oh, I think it's eighteen or nineteen to thirty four, and having I'm thirty four right now, I'm almost thirty five. I'm so excited. But having worked on myself all of these years, I just know that women sometimes feel alone and if they are able to relate to somebody, then it makes them I mean it's pretty simple. It just makes them feel less alone in their journey and your book be a good human apollinator's guide it to a better life, which is that right now. It just came out. Congratulations on the launch. Thanks for stuff all around. And another big component of the book is promoting the importance of insects in our ecosystem. Like you say, everything's ethically sourced. So how do you promote that through the book and through your posts? Honestly, I think it's just bringing awareness to insects. I have people tell me all the time that they see an insect now and they don't harm it because they think of me. But yeah, it's just promoting awareness. I mean I'm not an entomologist, I'm not. I'm only self taught on insects, so I there is so much information that I still need to learn and I'll never learn it all, but I think just, yeah, giving them a cute side helps people kind of like them more. Yeah, I think it definitely helps because, I mean I don't think I've ever been grossed out by insects, but I know a lot of people are and I've been summoned away from a room I was in to come kill a spider or something and I'm like no, just like put it on a piece of paper and let it get back outside like it's not we don't need to be getting my you know, getting a flip flop out or something and trying to smash these bugs like they're not doing anything to you. But that's another that's a story for for another thing. My flip flops with reckless abandoned...

...just all over the place right. What has surprised you about running this platform? You've been doing it, like you said, for four and a half, coming up on five years, and certainly it's evolved since you're very first post but like you've kept it going for, I think, longer that a lot of people stick with instagram accounts or stick with this kind of platform. So, like what surprised you over the years? I would say I surprised myself by sticking with something, the longest relationship I've ever had. It's so glad to exidermy Um. What surprised me? I honestly am surprised that so many people actually like it. What's the best compliment you've gotten I guess people saying they they don't want to harm bugs now and they they think of you when they see a bug is probably pretty good. But has there been any other one? We were like, Oh, that's so nice. Um, honestly, I received messages every day that are so kind and I'm just so grateful because the thing is is that when I created this I was just dead set. I'm not trying to get followers. That was never my intention. It was just always to share, and so I've created this platform where I've never, you know, like Hashtag, I don't even really know how to do that, but I've never hashtag sayings, I've never pushed it on people, and so people just genuinely want to be there, I guess you could say, and they genuinely want to share my work. So I have, yeah, messages every day sending me love and it's pretty awesome. I can't pick out just one message. Would have to say all of them I'm combined into, yes, one long note, exactly perfect. Perfect, and in quarantine life, I I've enjoyed asking a lot of people about their quarantine hobbies. So we certainly want to touch on that. But has social distancing and the pandemic really affected how you collect your work, or it seems like I probably wouldn't, wouldn't have that much of an impact on it. But have you had to maybe go two different places, or has it largely kind of been business as usual? As far as my artwork goes, it's been business as usual. Like I said, they are. I keep the bugs, so I mean I have an abundance of flies and butterflies and bees and stick...

...bugs and arachnids. So anytime I want to create something, it's readily available. I will say, though, looking back on the past year, there have been some ups and downs, and I'm pretty transparent on my page. So there was some point in I don't even remember what month it was, but a couple months into quarantine, the Post Cup pretty depressing, if you will. But yeah, business is usual. Lovely. I wasn't. I was laughing more at your, if you will, that that depressed like posts, because I think we all had our upsit downs. And if you talk to someone who was like yeah, I had a great quarantine, like, but trust him any further than I can right, something's wrong with them if they had a great quarantine. Yeah, although of course there there are the hobbies that got started. I certainly had a couple of things that I probably wouldn't have done if I wasn't sitting around at home all the time. So did you have any quarantine hobbies or anything that quarantine life kind of made possible? I honestly the biggest thing for me was my the relationship I have with my dog got infinitely better. I her name. Can I talk about my dog? Of course, yes, her name is Georgie and I got her as a puppy. She just turned to in January and I should not have gotten a puppy, but I did, and I spent oh my gosh, I don't even know how many thousands of dollars and probably over a hundred hours just training her and she turned to in January, this past January, like I said, and she has become I'm so glad I put all of that work into her because she is honestly my best friend and we have grown so close because I live alone and she's the only physical contact I have made in the best year. So yeah, I would say my biggest hobby is just like making her happy. We go on hikes, we go walking, you know, all that good stuff. I tried to teach her yog I'm a yoga teacher too, and I tried to teach her yoga, but that didn't work out very well. I mean, she probably knows downward dog right well, she'll only do it if she gets a treat. So I need to I need to revisit downward dog because that would be super cool if she could just do that on command. And she could. It's me, it's not...

...her. She's an Australian shepherd mix or she's incredibly smart. So it's just me figuring out how to get her to do it without a treat. Yeah, it's it's tough. I adopted a second dog just before the start of the PENDEM so he doesn't know life really outside of someone being at home all the time. Right, anytime he is left alone for you know, well or out running errands or something like, he's freaking out. He doesn't know what's up. He he knows sit, shake, and then other paw, which is he uses his left pot to shake. Nice. Trying to try to teach him lay down. Still kind of TVD on that also. Yeah, needs a treat to make it happen, but comparatively to my first dog, who. She is ten years old and was adopted older. She was three when she when she joined the household. So she is an old dog that will not learn any tricks and very much, very much to the saying you can't teach an old dog, at least a Chihuahua docks and mix, new tricks. Oh my goodness, that sounds adorable. Yes, she's very cute. And then the other one is a docsn and Jack Russell terrier mix. And here cool the handsome ones. We will yeah, we will exchange dog photos after this and perhaps even in the show notes will just put some dog photos, because who? Who Doesn't enjoy that? And then my follow up, because your dog's name is Georgie. Are you familiar with the Song Georgie girl? By the seekers, I am. I didn't originally. I didn't name her that for any reason other than I just like the name Georgie. She also goes by George and sugar, so just depends on how I'm feeling. She's really got lots of different songs. You could play sugar, sugar by ARCHIES, like sugar I by her and five forge of the jungle. Leave it. I don't know if she's been anjer player last yeah, I should make her a playlist. Good idea, excellent. I've added homework. It's my as my goal is to give people to do is when they they leave the podcast recording, they're like, well, now I gotta do something right. Magical. Well, towards the end of these episodes, I always like to ask for a top three, and I usually like to ask you for your top three so that I don't have to think of anything to creative. My top three things. Well, I guess I won't say Georgie because I already mentioned her, but she's always my number one. Lemon Cello, Lacroix. Have you had that yet? No, okay, that's one of my top things that I have learned to love in quarantine. Okay,...

...it it tastes. Do you like Lacroix? Sparkling Water? Okay, here's my here's my lacroix take. I I did not for the longest time I did not like Lacroix. Every time I had it I was like, Oh, gross, and then I got a job at an office that loved Lacroix and yeah, we would always have our fridges stocked with Lacroix. I still don't really like Lacroix, but I like the lemon lime one in the green pan. I will, I will drink that one, even multiple times a day. But I haven't had lacroix since we left the office. Okay, a year old. Wow, so it's not like an impulse purchase. I will. So I'm going to have a shout out to a local Austin spot that I believe ships at least somewhat nationally, maybe, that they're called big swig sparkling water and they have weird flavors and, similar to Lacroix, I really only like one or two of their flavors, but they have one that's a party pickle flavor and it tastes like pickle. Oh it's sounds so bad. It sounds so bad, but it's so good. It's like shockingly refreshing considering. It's like pickle juice, but just it's yeah, it makes me. It makes me smile that people are getting real creative with their sparkling water. Right. WHAT ABOUT LEMON CELLO? Okay, lemon cello is awesome and I drink them all the time. I will have to Google big swigs sparkling water and see if it's available anywhere near me, because I'm always down to try new flavors, even if it is pickled. And then my second favorite saying is, have you watched house hunters? COMEDIANS ON COUCHES? No, okay, so it's house hunters. I mean it's self explanatory. It's Dan Levy. I think I'm pronouncing his name right. It's not Dan Levy from Shit's creek, but there's another way. It's a different an levie. Yeah, okay, because because I love you, spin everywhere. I'M gonna sound like such an apple if I've pronounced his name wrong. Actually, dawn or leaving, I don't know. Anyways, I think it's right. It's spilled the same way, but it's not the one from Shits Creek. He's also a comedian and writer and he's fantastic. And Natasha Lagaro, is that homes is you know who I'm talking about? Yes, yes, okay, I also don't know how to pronounce her name, though. Okay, well, let's assume it's correct. Okay, we'll just assume it's correct. ANYWAYS, they host this show on discovery plus where they sit down with another comedian and just chat about the house hunters episode and that's that's it. Is it while?...

Is it like while the episode is playing, or is it like they play the house hunters episode and then it's after the Fashiona know, it's while it's playing. So you know they have people on like Seth Rogen and Ali Wong. So it it's not just it's big names who are on the show. Okay, highly rex sound of that. Yeah, they have an under like a, I think, a family friendly version and then a not family friendly version. So dealer's choice. It's the family friendly version censored, or do they just have different is it like different segments, because it's different? Okay, okay, yeah, I'm blinking on the name now. There was something I used to go to, some like comedy show where they'd have the seven o'clock like everyone's welcome here. Then the thirty they're like, oh, we're very drunk by this point. So it's going to it's going to go real off the rails. Right. We have a comedy club in town to Oh wow, I miss that place. Sorry, anyways, they do the same thing. Well, I don't think you have to be twenty one to enter. So but the earlier shows are definitely less rowdy. Yeah, I think that's just to like your brain is still kind of functioning at this pot yeses, wait to wait so closer to midnight and then all bets are off right. Okay, what's my third favorite thing? Oh shoot, I mean I get outside a lot, so I would have to say exploring new trails because there aren't people out there and you don't have to wear a mask. Are you a power Walker when you're explaining these trails? Are you like real chill and laid back? I'm pretty chill and laid back. It's one of the reasons why I got Georgie in the first place, is so I could have somebody to go with, something to go with. So she's trained off leash, so I mostly just been the whole time watching her running around, smell and stuff. Yeah, being outside. That's my third favorite thing. Lovely, it is really enjoyable just to watch a dog exploring. Yeah, like there's something about it. It's just so, so pure. It is so pure. Okay, my dog almost like overheated himself to the point of passing out today. That was very exciting. He was, oh no, very pant heavy, pant heavy, panting along and drinking water, just slobbering it everywhere. It was all very cute, also very alarming. Something like you've never been this. It's like exhausted before. Yeah, rough life is...

...like a dog. Well, Ali, you're almost off the hook. But if people want to learn more about if they want to see your work, they want to pick up a copy of be a good human, where can they find you? Well, they can find me. I suggest bookshop dot org, because they give back to local book stores. If my online, that's that's my number one place that I would suggest for all of your book needs. Yes, Love Book Shop, and you can. I don't think I've actually done this, but you can choose the bookstore you want to support. Right with bookshop. Um, I'm not sure either. I've never done that. I was yeah, I've never done that either. Yeah, I always just have it go to the the fund. I'm like, there's so many good ones, I can't choose right and that. Yeah, exactly. They know, they know best. Lovely, lovely. And if people are on the Graham and they're sick of like, you know, seeing half eaten candy bars or your latest Posta Prima Vera dish that whatever chef you follows made, where can they find you? You can find me at so fly taxidermy, often mistaked as softly taxidermy, but I thought it was so brilliant when I came up with the name, because you know how now that's so fly, like so cool, but also I use flies. I think I think it's a great I think it's a great word play, but I also enjoy softly taxidermy and really want to know taxidermy. I don't know if that's a handle or not. Go to so flat taxidermy. So fly a taxidermy. Fantastic, Elie, thank you so much for hop and on. I thought this was wonderful and for everyone listening, definitely do go check out so flat taxidermy because it's it is like super cool and again a thing that wasn't really a thing and you made it a thing and that's awesome. Yeah, yeah, thank you. Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it absolutely. And of course we're going to end with a Corny joke, as we always do, and it's even insect themed. Okay, what type of be can't make up its mind? Ah, maybe to Jay People. That was good. Good people, cool things. Is produced in Austin, Texas. If you were a fan of this episode, go ahead and hit that follow button. That helps more people here with the show. As always, you can send me a message Joey at good people, cool thingscom.

Thank you to all of the guests who have been on good people, cool things to check out all the old episodes via good people, cool thingscom. As always, thank you for listening and have a wonderful day.

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