I'm unsure as to how many people still actively use deviantArt, but I occasionally find myself logging back in (if only to delete notifications in my inbox, honestly.) I rarely use this site any more but I still feel like it's an old diary; I love looking back through my old art and my old journals and seeing how I've changed over the years. I love watching myself stumble through life and grow into the person I've become today, and I'm excited about the idea of one day being able to look back at my current self with pride and admiration. Future self, I hope you see this and know that I'm looking forward to becoming you.
A small snapshot of my life right now;
I'm about to graduate college. I actually am one semester behind; if I had stuck to the traditional four-year plan I would have graduated this past spring semester, but as it stood I was a little bit behind schedule and had to take a few more required classes. Graduation will be in December, in two months. I'm living with great roommates at a not-so-great apartment complex, and at the end of January one roommate and myself will move out and get a new apartment just a little father north, out of the city and out of the ridiculous college-town rent price range. I'm nervous about getting the money to be able to pay for that move, since at the moment I don't have a job. I was working last semester at pizza hut, doing delivery driving, and I suppose I could go back there if I really need to to sustain myself and have a source of income, but as it is right now, schoolwork is taking up too much of my time and I wouldn't be able to balance both school and a job. So I'm going to wait until I graduate and have a free schedule before delving into work.
Speaking of work! I know it's been a long, tough road trying to figure out my career. I remember for the longest time I wanted to be a vet. Then I wanted to be an astronaut, if ONLY for the chance to get to float around weightless. For a while I considered being an actor, then maybe a forensic criminologist. Even recently I thought about 3D environment modelling for video games. I didn't really know, and I would have breakdowns and panic attacks when forced to confront the decision. At one point I had a meltdown and cried for an hour with mom, during which I confessed that I'd rather run off and live in the woods for the rest of my life and not have to face the decision. I was overwhelmed, struggling with so much on my plate and not enough resources to handle it all.
And that whole time, I was drawing. Granted, I started by copying Kay Fedewa's wolves and unabashedly trying to start my own wolf comic inspired by her work, but those gears were turning and I was cranking out anatomically-horrific canines left and right. And through thick and thin, I'd find ways to express myself with my art.
Looking back now, they're embarrassing, almost laughable, but they were important to me, and the support I received was CRUCIAL in my continuing to create art. I was so uncertain in myself and reliant on validation that one negative comment probably would have broken my spirit. Whether it was my close, wonderful group of friends, or sheer luck that I never encountered negativity, I had found a safe bubble in which I could start to grow.
I started branching out. I teamed up with my best friend to enter OCT's and, even though we dropped out or couldn't complete our first entries, it was fun and gave me new goals to strive towards. I began exploring different media, different styles, different storytelling techniques, and even though I wasn't the best at them, getting the chance to experiment was important.
High school was difficult, and despite everything that was changing in my life, sitting down and drawing was one thing I could always count on. Anime had definitely come into my life by this point and my art was saturated with nothing but wolves and skinny, pointy-chinned bishounen boys, but it also gave me some shows to explore and begin to use as inspiration. I started thinking about my art itself; rather than an expression of some thought or idea, I began to want the final piece to look like a complete work. I started to move away from transparent, floating characters, and began to place them in scenes and settings, no matter how simple.
I started exploring art as a way to comment on my life, and express what I was feeling, but in a more refined and critical way. Rather than doodle a sad-looking fursona, I would apply my situation to original characters and draw them in my shoes. Yeah, I was depressed, but I started to use that as inspiration rather than a hindrance. Setting and background started to become useful to me as a way to express moods.
At this point I was starting to break out of my shell. My confidence was beginning to grow and I felt more inspired to draw things outside of my comfort zone. More OCT's with more thought put into them (although still not making it past the first round.) I started to draw things that were funny, I started to draw fanart for things I enjoyed, I started to break loose from my previous style and try to purposefully push my creations.
I got into Homestuck and as much of a love-hate relationship I have with its fandom, that was the first real fandom community I was a part of and it gave me an audience to create content for.I started to consider colors and their relationship with one another. I started to try out new coloring and shading styles and techniques that I was picking up from other artists that I started to watch and follow.
I began using my fandoms as opportunities to try out different styles, to mimic artistic choices and direction and see how I could use them in my own work. I began considering each piece of work as a stage, and thought about my composition and how to arrange elements as if they were part of a scene from a story. They began to move away from portraits of characters and began to move towards pictures that told complete stories. My color choices became more refined and purposeful. I became more conscious of small technical details like figure-ground relationships.
And all these developments were going on in the background of my life while I struggled to figure out my direction. My second year of college I realized that art WAS a viable career. You grow up hearing that having an art degree is laughable and that all art students end up working as baristas at starbucks, but I was finding so much solace in my work and so much validation by showing it to others that I realized I couldn't be without that. I was truly feeling successful and happy when I was creating art and I had never found that feeling in any other aspect of my life. It clicked for me and I realized that's what I want to do. I would be happy doing this for myself and for others.
It's like one of those cliche romcom movie plots; the person the protagonist ends up with is the one that was there all along, even if they didn't see it at first. My art has always been there for me through the gamut and I've only recently come to recognize the role it played.
Vet? Astronaut? Forensic criminologist? No, I'm an artist. I always have been and I always will be.