I was cleaning out my hard drive the other day and stumbled upon an entire archive folder of my older drawings. I wish there wasn’t so big a gap between my archives of 2003 and 2007, but I only started keeping records of all my things since the beginning of high school at the advice of someone I respected (whom I now have actually forgotten, I just remember being told to and thinking it was a good idea).
I’ve been drawing selfies my whole life, and it’s interesting to look back on this as a whole because it’s the easiest way I can archive my life. I have very vivid memories of creating each image, and the events around each one. I guess this is why all artists make art of themselves.
I do it mostly because I’m terrified of forgetting.
It’s all under the cut,
In a moment of weakness, my mother enrolled me into a short drawing course that taught me how to draw cartoon animals and people. I made a series of 6 A3 marker and coloured pencil drawings mostly of animals doing things like shopping, playing soccer and celebrating Chinese New Years. My drawing teacher thought I was hilarious, because other people in the class had been drawing almost exactly what he was demonstrating.
Around about the same time, I was just restarting my love affair with manga. I grew up with mainly asian media as a kid, which obviously involves a lot of anime and manga, but I was starting to actively seeking it out myself around this time.
4 years later, I was in my heaviest anime watching phase. Hilariously, it took me just as many years to unlearn all the things I went out of my way to learn in these few years. I wasn’t putting my work online quite yet, so most of the things I drew were either presents, or my own doodles. I finished almost nothing, because I didn’t know how.
My mother asked me to draw a present for my twin cousins, who were 7 at the time. Naturally, I drew myself interacting with them. Those huge eyes are ridiculous. I think I got them from Fruits Basket.
I started drawing a lot of fan art and using references for my drawings because the mascots for the 2008 Beijing olympics were just too adorable for me not to draw them constantly. I also started drawing from photos of myself, taking my first few steps into realism. The third drawing was the first realistic drawing I ever did, and I’m still pretty proud of it.
I also began digitalising my art, and I think around about this year I made my deviantArt account (which is totally still accessible, but I won’t link you guys because it’s just too funny). I had a tablet that would work in the reverse and because all the settings and programs were in Chinese I couldn’t change it to be actually functional.
At the end of 2008 I started a series of little comics called Crack, and kept it fairly updated for about 2 years. I redrew many of the comics towards the end of the series, to make the beginning match the end a little better. At this point it was the only thing that I had ever produced regularly. I had an account at DrunkDuck, which you can actually still access to read if you can interpret any of my thick marker pen scratching.
Keep in mind that it has a lot of old characters in my life that I may not see so often anymore, but in the same way that I never really thought about people reading my blog, I never really thought about people reading Crack until they told me how invested they had become with updates. It felt good to be making things for people and knowing that they liked my content.
Thanks to almost daily comics about my life, I didn’t really draw selfies that weren’t story-based. In hindsight Crack was probably one of the first things that steered me towards animation, which is real weird to think about. The original sketchbooks for it are in my storage somewhere. I hope I can find it again when I move into my own apartment.
The first drawing with the 2010 title is actually a drawing of a photograph of me in 2003. So I looked like that while I drew weirdly personified animals doing human activities. Almost all the art I made in 2010 was concentrating on beginning to unlearn all the manga drawing skills I had developed in order to learn how to actually draw. I experimented with a ton of materials thanks to my high school art teacher team of three lovely women who essentially gave me the chance of changing my entire career choice. I also began making some lovely but generic digital art, but somehow when I digitally rendered anything that wasn’t a selfie I felt like it was dull.
I drew a lot of realistic singular eyes in 2010.
Towards the end of the year I was about to start my final year of high school, and stressed out for a whole range of reasons more. I felt like my life was falling apart, and couldn’t see past the end of high school, nor could I see any part of where I could go afterwards.
I neglected all my friends, and spent any and all of my available free time in the art rooms just so I didn’t have to put on a smile and face my friends with an entirely falsified personality. I became very obsessive with my HSC art major work series, and any time I didn’t spend planning my HSC extension 2 English major work, I spent in the art rooms testing inks, watercolours, and different kinds of pencils.
I was 16 and terribly, terribly numb, so all the art I was making that wasn’t for school was bright and happy, to make up for how I felt.
Besides my HSC art series of work, I made almost no other art during the year. A lot of drawings were sketches that were made while I convinced myself to take a break at the library, or ones I had made while I was supposed to be studying.
It wasn’t until after all my exams and graduations that I started drawing for fun again. Many of the things that I made at this point were all done digitally, with SAI being my program of preference while I still used a Windows computer.
On Open Day at UTS either at the end of 2010 or some time during 2011 I went in with my boyfriend at the time and the lady who was manning the booth for Visual Communications told me about a new course that the university was starting next year. She wasn’t sure of the details, but there were rumours about it and in about five minutes I decided that that was the degree I wanted to do even though the lady who was telling about it pretty much had no idea what the course was about.
So I spent the whole year thinking about the one rumour that I had heard at Open Day that UTS was about to start a bachelors degree of Animation, and hinged all my hopes on that.
I went on a big Asia trip at the end of high school to see my family and be with my mother. This is when I fell in love with Taiwan. My mother bought me an entire new wardrobe of clothes at a market in China near her home town, and I spent a long time drawing each of those outfits on my Wacom Bamboo tablet that I had owned since my Malaysia trip in 2009.
I reconnected with mum on that trip after 9 years of holding her at arms length.
I moved out of my grandparents’ flat and started my animation degree. For the first half of the first year, all they did was make us draw and I learned so much it hurts to even think about it. I started finishing and polishing my work rather than leaving it sketchy, and one of the most important things animation has really pushed into my drawing habits is to simplify the amount of lines I need to draw a subject.
I had drawings that were done completely in digital space that ended up much better than they would have, completed on a tablet that worked well enough. I panicked a lot about subjects that required finished and polished work because a lot of the time I was rendering them by hand. On my first character turnaround I didn’t sleep in order to finish colouring it. On my latest character design set I used less time to make more work, and it’s really refreshing to be able to measure that.
I was a part of four exhibitions in 2012, and it was probably the hardest and most satisfying year in terms of work I have ever had. The difference in what I was making at the end of 2011 and the end of 2012 was staggering.
Something like a quarter of the year into 2012, I became friends with someone who has highly influenced the way I work and the way I draw. He’s one of the reasons why I improved so much in the next two years, but we don’t talk anymore.
I found Crack again while I was very slowly packing and unpacking and packing and unpacking during 2012 and 2013, and decided to start another series of autobio comics. My main inspiration was Yuko Ota’s Johnny Wander, which I still adore but no longer read obsessively.
I made a lot of art for and with my significant other at the time, and constantly having something to make art about meant that I was improving pretty fast which I am pretty thankful for.
At the end of 2012 I made this blogger account and bought the domain for this site.
I guess the rest is all here.