Breaking Boundaries with Humour
Lindsey is an arborist in London, Ontario and the creator of Arb_comics on Instagram. She graduated from Humber College’s Arborist Apprenticeship program in 2018.
I stumbled into Arboriculture much the same way Julie Tucker did, as she explained in her blog. I was trying to get in to Adventure Tourism, but had a hard time finding a job (at least one that paid well). I was searching through a job board and found a posting for an Arborist Pre-Apprenticeship program. I’d heard of apprenticeships before, but I had no clue what the “pre” meant. A non-profit organization called The Career Foundations was offering job training programs, at no charge, to those who were struggling to get signed on as apprentices, or just looking to get in to a trade. It was basically taking a first-year apprenticeship program without being signed on with a company and with no prior experience. It sounded too good to be true, but I took a chance and went for it. It was the best decision I ever made! I met some really cool people from all kinds of backgrounds, and still keep in touch with a lot of the “pre-apps” today. I was able to find a placement right away, and later returned to Humber College to complete my second year. Unfortunately, I was part of the last run of Arborist Pre-Apprentices, but they do offer an Arborist Ground Worker training program. I highly recommend it to anyone looking to get in to the trade!
I also “stumbled” in to the world of webcomics while I was at Humber for my second year. I’ve always loved reading those “relatable” comics on Instagram, but noticed they were targeted towards a very broad audience. I tried searching for “arborist comics” but nothing came up. So, I thought, “Hey, I’m artistic! Why not start my own?” I drew up a few and posted them on my social media pages but didn’t get much of a response. I started doubting my artistic abilities, and was about to give up on it, until I showed my friend Laura at school. “Everyone has to start somewhere,” she told me. “You’re capitalizing on something no one else is doing right now. Keep going with it!” She also suggested that I try showing the arborist retailer, Tree Stuff, my comics. I wasn’t quite ready to approach a company so early on, but I took her advice and posted a comic featuring Tree Stuff’s logo. Less than 24hrs later, I get a message from them asking if I’d like to do exclusive comics for them! I was so blown away! I couldn’t believe they liked my dinky little comics that I thought were poorly drawn. Since then, my comics have been featured in their promotional e-mails, and I’ve had some illustrations made in to stickers!
My comics are mainly based on silly and relatable things that happen to arborists in the field. I’ve made a few comics about the ugly things women can experience, but I find just putting myself out there as a regular worker that everyone can relate to works really well. I don’t want to scare women away from the trade, but rather show them that they can become a part of a wonderful community. I want to show them that women can do the same things men do, and they can accomplish amazing things. Presenting my female character as just another worker who is comfortably interacting with her male coworkers is a subtle yet effective way of doing that. By no means do I want to hide the ugly side of what women go through – I just want to highlight the good.
My fan base is still small, but I already have big plans for the future! I’d like to start selling prints, writing children’s books, and maybe even make this in to my full-time career. The world of tree work is so big and vast, you never know where you will find yourself. All you need is passion, perseverance, and a network of people willing to help you – and in this industry, there will ALWAYS be people willing to help!
Lindsey made the comic below for Women in Wood featuring a conservation worker, volunteer, arborist, woodworker, forester and lab tech.