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My art journey ~ beginning at the humble age of 20 years old.

My Coming-of-Age Art Journey (Part 1) – Finding Inspiration

Life is a funny lady.

You think you know who you are and what you want, but then the beautiful mistress decides that it’s the perfect time to smack you with a surprise.

I was 20 years old when I fell into the pursuit of art as a hobby—hence the name of this blog. Before this, I didn’t have anything I could really call a dedicated pastime. The only thing that came close (if you detract the sense of learning and growth) was watching the latest and greatest of animated works.

In fact, around the same time I began learning art, I started a blog that discussed Western animation—one that I’ll never share here, mind you.

And what might be even more surprising to some of you is that my love for animation actually inspired me to take on illustration.

The series that was behind this leap of faith? Miraculous Ladybug: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir or MLB for short. Yup, I was a 20-year-old obsessed with a cartoon targeted at 6-8-year-old girls.

Note: Now I’m a 23-year-old who still loves the series.

I was no stranger to fan art during this time. Scrolling through Tumblr fandoms had always been a great way to fill the void left behind by hiatuses of my favorite TV shows. And Tumblr, while quiet in many topics, is thriving in the category fan communities and fan-made content.

One day, during an endless scroll of my Tumblr home page, a user by the name of @ladybugzine promoted a Miraculous Ladybug fanzine. It was my first time hearing of such a thing. Essentially, a fanzine is a collection of fan works (art and/or stories) compiled into an anthology of sorts, and available for purchase. Funds are usually donated to a predetermined charity.

As a Communication student, this concept was nothing less than incredible. Let me break it down:

I) A collective of people with their only commonality being fans of the same piece of media content.

II) This seemingly frivolous connection being powerful enough to inspire the creation of artwork based off of said medium.

III) The resulted artwork is then compiled by this community into an anthology and made available for purchase by other fans.

IV) Proceeds of fan purchases are donated to a charity selected by the organizer, or selected by said fans through an online poll system.

In summary, fanzines do a perfect job of demonstrating the sheer power of entertainment media in creating productive communities. So you better believe that I dished out CAD$50 to purchase the latest Miraculous Ladybug compilation.

The series has inspired beautiful artwork. Perhaps it’s because of the unique character designs, or the teased romance, or the fact that the show is set in breath-taking Paris; regardless, I have yet to watch another animated series inspire fan art that’s just as mesmerizing.

Returning to my coming-of-age art story, when I first found out about the MLB fanzine, I wanted more than anything to contribute. I wanted to become a part of this meta collective of art created by fans inspired by a TV show, compiled by other fans and sold to more fans to raise charity funds.

There was only one problem;

I didn’t know anything about art. Sure, my stick people were pretty impressive, but that’s about as far as my experience, or lack of, allowed for.

However, my middle-child-level stubbornness ensued. I wasn’t about to drop this recent spark of motivation. Besides, Papa always said that if you want something, make it happen. So, a couple days later, I purchased a less-than-mediocre sketchbook from Wal-Mart, which was my first step in pursuing my art journey.

Step two was copying countless fan art illustrations until I was ready to drop the training wheels and ride on my own.

Note that step two lasted for about an entire year.

. . . to be continued.

A/N: I’d just like to mention, that while my early artwork is quite terrible, I can look back and appreciate it for what it represents:

i) My willingness to pick up art in my adult years with no previous experience.
ii) My improvement when comparing my first illustrations to what I can do now.
iii) My pursuit of a passion after years of searching for some semblance of a spark.

I won’t tell you to look away, or say anything along the lines of I should probably burn my first sketchbook, because I simply don’t feel this way. Seeing my first pieces of art inspires me to keep going—while amusing me nonetheless.

My only hope in sharing the first bit of this story, is that it’ll inspire and amuse you all the same.

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