Lots of people ask me how I first got into art, and even more specifically, the digital stuff like Photoshop and Illustrator. So I will give you a more personal and in-depth look at how I got my skills to where they are today. Let’s start with part 1.
*Both portraits that are in the featured image were done by me back in 2011 using my Bamboo Fun Tablet
Like any skill, getting ‘good’ takes time and practice. As time goes on, you learn to develop a unique sort of style based on your influences and experiences. As a kid, I loved art class; I remember never wanting to go to any other class! I would always doodle on the back of church offering envelopes and IHOP placemats. But the defining moments that shaped me into the artist that I am today were memorable and iconic, and one of those moments was discovering Anime and Manga.
NARUTO illustration via Shonen Jump, a popular manga magazine that commonly featured Naruto weekly.
I remember the day very clearly: Back in 2005, my family was staying in my godparent’s basement in Dumfries, VA while my parents looked into purchasing our first house as a family. We had just gotten back from being stationed in Doha, Qatar for two years (Army Dad), and my siblings and I were just now getting back into the swing of things back here in America. Being in 5th grade at the time, I wanted to stay up almost every night to catch up on all of the cartoons that I had been missing for the last couple years like Samurai Jack. (Season 2 airs on [adultswim] on March, 11th)
Samurai Jack by Тхе Мичо
A program called Toonami that aired on Cartoon Network starting at 9 pm (which I thought was late) was airing a show called Naruto for the first time. I had never heard of it of course, but I was fascinated by the realistic, yet vividly dramatic form of animation. I did my research and quickly found out that the show was originally recorded in Japanese, then later adapted into English. I quickly got thrown into the world of Anime and would even take trips to Borders (when it still existed) to read Japanese comic books called Manga. Some of my earliest obsessions were with Inuyasha, Full Metal Alchemist, DeathNote, Chobits, and Azumanga Daioh. I quickly began to draw the characters that would appear in the shows/books, mimicking the large eyes, expressive faces, and stylized bodies and poses.
Some of my favorites include Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, Michiko & Hatchin, FLCL, and Samurai Champloo.
Various gifs via Tumblr
Although blogging about this is admittedly a little embarrassing, I do to this day continue to watch anime. Some would call it a guilty pleasure, but it is honestly something that I love to do and have no shame in. Anime is and will always be a part of me, and it is something that I will continue to draw inspiration from for as long as I am an artist.
Thanks for reading! Look out for My Art Journey Part 2 in the near future where I will talk about my first experiences with photoshop and digital drawing.
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