Update (may 7 2013): I just came home from the hospital after having surgery to have a cyst removed from my body. I'm still feeling quite weak, and I probably won't be up and drawing for the next week. As I've already collected over 800 messages in my inbox by now.. I'm sorry in advance for the delay in answering your messages. Please bear with me ^_^
Edit: I've been kinda overwhelmed by the sweet responses on this journal. Seriously guys (and girls), I never knew I could be any kind of inspiration for anyone! I'm glad I am, though. Thanks a lot!
I know I shouldn't think too much about stuff, but sometimes I just can't help myself. It all started when I started when I found back some old notes that I made for my Emion storyline. Back then (around the summer of 2007) I pretty much didn't have a life (no, seriously!) and I spend most days writing. Because I wasn't that organized back then, I had my desk filled with all kind of small notes and drawings of character- and story information that I just thought up, and wanted to use for writing.
It's been years since I saw that notes. Filled with all kind of terms and concepts for my story, and of course very crappy sketches from how the characters looked back then. (Maybe I should scan those… but only on popular demand…)
But although crappy, those sketches made me think about how it used to be back then.
I think 2007 was also the first year for me on DA. Of course I knew about the site, and I'd been there before, but I never liked it that much because my internet was crappy and the site used to be slow as hell on my computer. Some of my friend back then told me to join them, because "DA was a site for artists" and "You're an artist, you'll like it there". So there I was, a terrible n00b
I had 2 reasons to join the site, aside from posting art… which I didn't… because I stopped drawing back then. The first one was the ability to fave art
and save it online. Like I told before, my computer back then was like a machine straight from hell. Alt + Ctrl + Del were the only keys that would function all right, and I'd just lost my second hard disk in only a few months of time. Needless to say: I was fed up with losing data. And saving stuff on an online account would save me from a lot of trouble.
The second reason might seem a bit strange, but there were some artists that I was madly inspired
by at that time. I can't remember all of their names, but two of them were `yuumei
(the latter one is quite inactive now). Social media wasn't that big by then, which left DA as the only way to follow (or watch) their process.
(Stuff that used to inspire me -- and still does)
Like many other artists, I did try to post art at that time. (Sometimes you just need a break from writing, you know…). But I hadn't got a single watcher and, needless to say, I didn't get much response on my works either. Soon after I posted stuff, I left utterly frustrated because "all those others did got comments, while I didn't" and "My art wasn't that bad, was it?"
Back then, I was totally unaware of how social media worked. Of course my art wasn't that terrible (I've been here long enough to see far worse), but it wasn't exactly good either.
(And old version of my Sato character. I used to be proud like hell on this one)
Eventually I gave up and continued writing, as I felt more talented in that. But I couldn't just leave drawing alone. I still don't know why, but somewhere near the start of 2010 I decided that I should draw again… even if it was only to be able to draw the characters of my Emion storyline.
Drawing the characters became my main goal. And as I started again, I decided to toss everything aside that I've known and done till now on. I started anew, right from the basics, with nothing more than paper, pencil, and a whole damn lot of anatomy books and websites. Almost like a computer reboot. I hadn't got a clue what I wanted to do with my drawing skills, aside from being able to draw what was in my head. I didn't care either. It gave me something to do. A new challenge, aside from writing (which already became so routine that it didn't form a real challenge to me anymore).
It was at that same time, that I decided to get back at DA (because it was a site for artists, after all). By then I'd worked at advertising company's for a few years, and I knew at least a little bit about how marketing and social media worked -- in the sense that I knew that you needed to invest time in order to get something back.
So I came back at DA, posted some crappy art, and got no response. Tried again, posted more, practiced more, got better, and tried more. Rinse and repeat, many, many times. I was lucky to find a quite supportive community (the Dutch mangaschool community) where I made many friends, that at least gave me some feedback. But I also saw many artists that were far better than I ever thought I could get, and got more views than I could ever accumulate. Ugh… my lack of skills frustrated me a lot. And it still does, sometimes.
(First drawings at DA after I returned from my 3 year break)
The weird thing is… back then there were almost only people that I'd look up to. "If I could draw like him…" I'd used to think. And of course they were way above my level and weren't like anything I could achieve for the next 2 years. Hell, most of them were people that probably made art ever since the day they were born.
I started the sketchdump project at the end of 2010. The mission was simple. Put up some sketches every month, and see how you improve. I did this mainly to get something done. I was such a damn perfectionist that I could struggle to finish stuff. The sketchdump project forced me to actually finish stuff. Every end of the month meant that I needed to scan at least some stuff.
If you're a perfectionist, or you struggle to finish what you start with, or stop stuff because you don't feel it's good enough -- I can recommend the sketchdump project to you.
(Sketchdump stuff, slowly getting better over the years)
Anyhow… I don't know when, but I slowly felt like I catched up -- at least to some of the artists that I looked up to. Instead of "I can never make something like that" it went to "That shouldn't be too hard to pull off". And eventually I came to even see the errors that were into some of my favourite works, and came to think "Maybe I can do better".
Another funny thing from that time were commissions
. I was sure that every self-respecting artist on DA did commissions. It seemed like an easy way of earning money to me. I like to draw, so it should be awesome to earn money with it, I thought. The only problem was my art. It wasn't anywhere near good enough to get actually paid for.
The first time I was actually asked
if I did commissions I literally dropped from my chair out of pure surprise. But most ironic was that I actually didn't care anymore at that point. I had I decent job. Why would I bother doing another job in my free time?
Same goes for doujinshi groups
. I used to think it was really awesome to join one. Meeting other artists, working together, being admired by a crowd and selling works. Unfortunately my artwork wasn't ever good enough and my style didn't really fit in with other doujinshi groups. (It still doesn't, but hey). Last year at the local anime convention, I took a good look at all the doujinshi groups at the artists alley and their works… and I had to conclude… I can do the same. But I don't see any point in why I wouldn't even bother trying to make fanart to please the audience.
A lot of things have been that way ever since. I used to feel kinda insecure when I did my work as an art tutor for Mangaschool -- explaining art to a real audience. I used to be afraid that there would be someone in the room that would be better than me, exposing all of my mistakes. Now that it's been a year since I was initially asked to do so, I'm not really afraid anymore. Yeah… there could be people that are better than me. But why would they bother coming to a such a workshop, instead of teaching it? Plus I know that most people better than me are at least serious enough with art to not resort to such childish means.
As for my story. I used to write it just because I loved to create characters and write about them. But as I got lots of positive feedback lately (even from people that are considered professional storytellers) I'm seriously doubting about publishing it. I'm already planning to rewrite the first few chapters, because after 6 years I'm not really content with it anymore. And after that… I don't know? Find a publisher? (Even though it's hard to find one in the Netherlands). Or translate and self-publish via printing on demand?
Those used to be foolish ideas only, but seem like serious options now. If people like ~yumei
(and many more) can become well known on the internet… why couldn't I try to do so?So where to go from now on?
I don't know. It's weird to realize that I came that far, and sometimes reactions like "you're so talented" or "Your work is so awesome" still feel a bit empty, since I still feel like it's not. But having people taking interest in your art and fiction, in your ideas, is quite fun and is really worth giving it a try. So let's see what the future brings…
TLDR version: I spend too much time thinking about shit and such.