Do you ever think what it was that made you go down the path of your profession? Someone asked why I became an illustrator? So I thought about it…
More often than not we tend to be too busy to reflect on how far we have come. It takes a question from someone else to recall a time or moment. I remember my moment very well. I always knew that I would be doing something creative with my life. I just didn’t know what.
I was a teenager, maybe 15, and I was living in Japan. I had moved there when I was 10. I was still very much an American. I never did completely become Japanese but I truly respect the culture and heritage I was born with. One day I was reading an American teen magazine.
Funny thing is you never notice something until you do.
I’d been getting these magazines on a subscription for a couple of years and I only REALLY noticed the illustrations on this particular day. I wasn’t just looking at this illustration, I was looking at the person behind the awesome illustration. It hit me! I really wanted to do what this person was doing for this article. It was a game-changer. I had never felt like this. It felt like I’d found my purpose. Though, I was still young and had many things I wanted to become I always came back to illustrations.
I used to get into a lot of trouble in high school because my exercise books and notebooks would be full of illustrations. It never occurred to me that my teachers would be so ticked off about it. I kept doing it, though. I couldn’t stop. It’s only now that I can explain why I did it. At the time I was still a kid just figuring out what was beyond high school. I did it because that was the best way I could communicate with people and understand what was going on within me.
I never caused grievance but I knew I wasn’t conforming either. And being a foreigner in Japan attending a Japanese high school made you stand-out even more. There was a wonderful teacher, my homeroom teacher in my last year of high school who saw beyond the cookie-cutter school system. She encouraged me to do whatever I wanted. She saw my strengths and told me to trust in myself. When I finally decided how I would pursue my dream two years after my graduation (I had to save money) she was there at the school giving me everything I needed. These were days before the internet was mainstream so sourcing information was phoning in and collecting in person or mail. Fun times!
There had been setbacks and changes in life but I always tried to keep on course to becoming an illustrator. It wasn’t an overnight success but I stuck by it and stayed true to my heart and that brings me to the present.
I want to celebrate everyone’s journey here too. Reflect and respect yourself. It’s bloody hard but the hard work will lead you somewhere.
That was my moment of clarity and the story after.
What was yours? What made you think ‘I want to do that’?