Time Traveling

7 min read

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I've been time traveling a bit tonight.  Digitally that is, looking back over my last eight years on here, old journal entries, people I knew, how my art and writing style has changed.

I realise I really don't *interact* on here half as much as I used to, and I'm sorry for that.  I know I was mostly away for a fairly long period, and the ever-changing, peripatetic nature of my life and work since leaving university hasn't been all that conducive to keeping up online contacts here, well, and people and things change and move away, but I realise I've also known quite a few people on here for quite a long time - and some of you guys have probably gotten to know me a fair bit through my updates over the years as well.

A snapshot of time here about five or six years ago (when I was probably most active on dA):  altergromit was probably one of my most frequent dA correspondents (a lot of dogs and turtles were exchanged ;) ), and I'd just started swapping strings of banter and other more or less profound thought-meanderings with ErnestAbacus .  (well I guess a couple of things haven't really changed so much in six years!) veryverystrawberry was also around, I believe (and a few others my sleepy brain isn't registering right now.  Sorry).  I also used to chat with talyra and DougBaltz, who I don't think are around so often anymore ; and was also beginning to talk more with barbarasobczynska and pentelka (both of whom I wanted to get to know better, but whose artwork I admired so much, and who already seemed to have so many admirers, that I always felt a bit star struck whenever one of them would comment on anything I did :blush: ) I also lived (I mean in real life) with Lilaims back then, who influenced my art and writing a lot - and was an enabler to my caffeine habit.  As I was time traveling, I came across a lot of nice comments and interesting conversation threads I should've replied to but never did, stuff I should've followed up, jokes I didn't get because I wasn't reading properly or was just too young/uncultured/sheltered to get the reference...

It's funny looking back at the comments, writing and artwork from my 20 and 21-year-old self.  The way I wrote then and the stuff I seemed to be wanting to prove makes me cringe, but I actually think some of the artwork might've been more interesting and original.  I'm worried I'm not as imaginative and experimental as I was back then, maybe because I think of art as THE thing I DO now for food and stuff.  I can probably do proportions and technical stuff a bit better, but a lot of my more recent stuff feels less inventive and a little too polished...  this could just be the 'just finished never want to see it again' bias kicking in I guess, but... What do you think?

Also with commenting, I have an admission to make: actually at some point a few years ago, I made a resolution that I wasn't going to just type 'thanks' or 'yay' or other one-word replies on dA anymore, especially to actually nicely thought-out comments, but instead comment properly in kind, and I was also going to try to comment whenever I :+fav: ed someone's work, especially if it was someone who wasn't already getting hundreds/thousands of views and comments.  Credit where it's due, this was a lot inspired by ErnestAbacus 's ever-entertaining/thoughtful comments on my work, which I (and I suspect a number of people) always look forward to.  It seemed to make sense to actually talk about pictures and the ideas they inspire, or reply to people's interesting contributions, not to mention make new friends rather than just nod and say thanks.  After all, this is supposedly what deviantart started for, right? (although I'm still not convinced anything on the Internet is real, but people is people, and a computer has still yet to pass the Turing test under truly fair conditions)

Well of course what ACTUALLY happened after a while was that I became paralysed by the backlog of comments I wanted to type, and ended up not on dA for long chunks of time to avoid it.  Eventually I had such a big backlog that I settled back into faving anonymously and just saying thanks to comments or not replying altogether.  Obviously what's realistic is a balance somewhere between the two, where I say things when I have things to say, try to show proper appreciation for genuine compliments and criticisms, and the rest of the time a bit of skipping over and short-hand probably has to happen because that's how the Internet works, especially when you also have a lot of real-life on the go and are trying to cut down on screen-time.

It's also turning out to be a somewhat weird and amorphic summer, which lends itself well to this kind of time-travel.  I'm across the world with a bunch of new people, about to commit to two years of grad school - that's the longest I've committed to stay in any one place for a while, amongst a number of other commitments, figuring stuff out and new responsibilities (that I'm told come with growing up).  I also have more time to focus solely on my own artwork, rather than commission work, which is a great if obsession-inducing opportunity, but due to financial pressures I am possibly more pulled currently towards developing the marketable side than the creative side, which I'm not sure yet is the right strategy or not.

Another thing about this summer that's disconcerting, and probably getting to me a bit lately, is that I'm in a place where no one (great though they are) has known me for more than about a year at most, and I'm really a little (or maybe quite a bit) homesick.  I miss things and people and connections that have history.  A small part of me keeps saying, 'all the restlessness and moving about of the last few years was supposed to lead you back to somewhere that felt like home - like Edinburgh.  Not take you further into unfamiliar territory...'.

OF COURSE I still like adventures, and of course I'm looking forward to the things that're coming up, but this summer is also disconcerting, and giving me a lot of time to reflect and try to figure things out.  Just as there's sometimes something a little melancholy about time-travel, like I miss the times I had with my flatmates in Edinburgh, and the general sociability and lack of *big* decisions and responsibilities (and I was pretty restless then!), I'll probably look back at this summer at some point and think 'damn it was great to have so much time to myself to paint and go cycling!  Pity my writing back then makes me cringe but at least I sold some prints!'

Anyway, sorry about the overly long and introspective journal post.  I guess I hadn't really posted on here properly for a while.  As i said, I'm going to try to keep up with people more on here, especially now while I have the time.
Within realistic limits this time though ;)
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DougBaltz's avatar
I miss the old days. It seems like things were a lot different on here back then. I saw some really good art and met some really nice people, you and ~Lilaims being two of my favorites. It just doesn't seem the same any more. Maybe I'm just getting old and bitter.
bonzaialsatian's avatar
Circumstances change, I guess, and probably we're *all* getting old and bitter ;) I've been reconnecting and meeting more people again lately though, and it's not bad. I'm aware that my perspective's changed too, shifting from doing art for procrastination to drawing for work... and dA gets bigger and bigger. It's weird that how the community was back in '06 or '07 (or earlier) seems small now in comparison.
DougBaltz's avatar
I can't really put my finger on why, but it's just different for me. I still post my new work on here and check in from time to time but I don't spend nearly as much time as I used to conversing with other artists and checking out new work. I miss the old days. It seemed like we were all a lot closer then.
bonzaialsatian's avatar
I agree that dA seems to have gotten a bit less intimate in some ways than a few years back, though even back then it was already a pretty huge community. I think things like points and llamas and other pretend pixel things might have made it slightly easier not to actually communicate, but maybe it's also to do with the people we interacted with most *at the time* we were also most active moving on to other things. In any case, I find that I enjoy dipping back in and having periods of slightly more or less involvement here, but some conversations and friendships do keep going on here, even during those quiet times.

Interestingly now I'm facing the possibility of creating a *lot* more work (and hopefully more interesting stuff) over the coming months (and work I can post as it's for school rather than for a publisher), but possibly not having time to post or interact so much! We shall see :)
ErnestAbacus's avatar
I find that when presences online, the ones we call people, leave, or fade into the background, and then come back, they usually come back different. The mask changes sometimes, but usually it's the presences needs that have changed. Through a simple comparison of the two personalities (early and returned) one can see a whole lot of humanity/personality revealed. You were more of a challenge back then; snippy and clever. Kept me on my toes more, and you came across, oddly, as more mature and serious. Whereas now there is more cute in your persona.

Six years of banter? That's crazy. Completely mad.

You know, Basia was always so gracious with people that I had no worries about talking to her. Actually, I think I was born thinking that I'm welcome anywhere I go, so I rarely felt intimidated or starstruck by talents like hers. That said, I still did see her as a celebrity, which I'm sure seems absurd from her perspective. I certainly felt that her opinion of me and what i made was absurdly exaggerated.

Okay, here's what I think about your art and creativity. I agree, your work lately is less creative and involving lately, maybe just too straight-forward. Not a huge deal, since you still produce some wonderful stuff, but less frequently. So, as an artist, I'll bet that is at least a deal for you, if not a big one. Let's pretend that I know what I'm talking about regarding the artistic process, the market space, and your own personality. Here goes. Young artists often mistake their unique weaknesses and habits for their unique talents. Then they keep getting this pressure to be more mainstream, more marketable, and to learn the dull, creativity killing, wrote artistic practices that schools insist upon. "Whatever MAN, you can't box me in!" Then the practice and variety kick in and the artist realizes how wrong they were, the mainstream actually knows something. Well, this is only kind of true. The artist has now got the training, that is perspective and practice, that they needed to be competitive but... NOW the trick is to realize, despite all of the effort it took to just bend the knee and learn a little, that at this point the name of the game IS creativity and uniqueness. People commission and request fan art, simple and standard images and recreations like crazy, but it isn't what people really want if they have the chance to see something new. If you want to sell art, to make a name for yourself then you do need the learning, but you've had a lot, the you've got to make things that people can't get anywhere else... or rather, make things that you can't get anywhere else. Focusing on creativity is totally what you should do. Absolutely. You filter this through the eye of the times, and aim for things that are yours but to which people relate. Develop the creative side, it'll be more marketable.----Okay, we can stop pretending now. This was brought to you by many 25-30 year old aritsts having asked me this same question in the last couple of months. Oh, and a matter of taste. Polish in terms of overall form is awesome, but I like the sketchy or painty qualities of a lot of your stuff, and find the digital collagy stuff to be less compelling. But that's me, and from looking at recently published comic books I have to wonder if that feeling is shared by a lot of people.

I know what you're talking about. I sometimes get that comment backlog(Wa ha ha. I have influenced behavior from an ocean and a continent away.), although for me it's mostly art comments. I am just full of words, so I don't get too beaten down, but I totally have to declare comment bankruptcy sometimes. Although you and a few others still get more complete comments. I have favorited things that I wanted to comment on but didn't feel I had the time to a lot in the last couple of years.

Homesickness is not something I've ever really had, because I never fully left. heh. I wander briefly and then return, because I have an oversensitive risk gauge. I'll assume that the homesickness will diminish considerably by the end of the next semester, but I don't know what that means for you right now. Maybe it's a good thing, in a way. Maybe it's really part of this temporal jaunt you're taking. Maybe it's just time to add up the pieces of where you are before there's too much homework.

Why did you think wandering would lead you back home?

I remember a while ago when you were talking about going to school again, you expressly stated a desire to go in Easter Europe or the British isles. What changed?

Obviously I like long introspective journals, so apology not accepted. :)
bonzaialsatian's avatar
Damn, I like to think I keep people on their toes now! I'm not sure what having more cute in my persona means, but I probably would've fought against it more a few years ago than I would now. I'm also not sure if that sets me down the horrifying route of becoming old and nostalgic... (I'm still holding onto the ambition of becoming a crazy old lady in Edinburgh who cackles over 'special' coffee with ~Lilaims and other edinburgh friends while terrifying the youngsters. if I'm mellowing now I'm going to have to make a dramatic comeback in my late middle age, is all I can say)

I know, right?! There's probably some really profound stuff in there, now lost to the annals of time and deviantart filing. ach well, it's the world's loss.

I'm not sure why I felt so self conscious, because you're right, both Basia and Etelka were really friendly to me when I talked with them - I even did an art trade with Etelka. I think part of it is that I'm not good at initiating (and maybe sustaining) conversations with some (most?) types of people, both in real life and online, so some connections are missed.

Thank you for your honest comments, I really appreciate them.
And I think you're right about the push and pull between being creative and marketable, and how ultimately the two can, and ideally should, tie together. I probably think about form a lot more than I used to for certain things, partly because it can be fun drawing birds and stuff, but also because it's easy and I don't worry about it the same way I do with stuff I probably put more of myself into. I realised recently that I have a lot more unfinished or un-scanned pictures lying around in sketchbooks and stuff than I used to. I mean some self-editing is probably good; I used to put pretty much everything up, but there's probably some potentially more interesting stuff that's getting lost as well. I know that I'm holding back somewhere, and it's frustrating - in fact with the dog book that I just finished (which I haven't put up finished panels for yet because I'm not sure if my contract allows me to), the lady who commissioned me hired me because she liked my more sketchy and free-flowing style. The first drawings I did for her were polished and way off. It was two or three months and we still couldn't get the feel she wanted... then one night I was still rather drunk after getting home from a pub, sat down and drew a load more ideas on the back of a letter. The next day I sent them to her along with a load of other sketch ideas - and she said those were just right! I don't know if the best moral is to get drunk every time I want to draw, but I know I probably need to relax into it again. The time spent doing commercial illustration probably didn't help either, though it was good experience.

Actually, the grad school course I'll be doing will partly involve being mentored by an artist who has spent all his life painting the arcadia national park, and who also seems very focussed on helping young artists find, hold on to, and be less self-conscious about their 'voice', so hopefully that will be a good experience too. (incidentally it's not an art school, as I'll also be studying zoology, ecology and working out how to save the world through art and science, and possibly animation. ...I'm pretty sure I didn't dream it but ~Lilaims won't believe me either.

You have an oversensitive risk gauge in that you're afraid of what is far away or of what you leave behind? Then again it sounds like with sea and desert so close by, you've got a pretty idyllic setup already, at least in terms of natural beauty.

I think I've been in some way homesick for a long time, without really knowing what home is or what it means, but just wanting a vague sense of having an anchor. I've moved around a fair bit between big anonymous cities on different sides of the world all my life (plus beijing changes so much there is little sense of history), so I've never had a sense of somewhere I wanted to go back to - at least until I left edinburgh. Sometimes it takes leaving a place to realise how attached you are to it, which also answers why I needed to go away for a bit to go back, but unfortunately it's proven harder to get back than I thought, although every time I visit I still feel the relief of arriving home (and then I realise I don't have a house key). Every time I've set up plans to go back in the last couple of years though, life throws a curve ball and my plans change again - in this most recent case finding and getting onto a grad school which offers course combinations that I never thought I'd find in a million years.
ErnestAbacus's avatar
Well, you're still challenging in the intelligent and energetic way. One has to keep up, but less in the aiming academic commentary and sass at my feet and saying, "dance!"

There are many steps and regressions in the slide toward old/nostalgic softening of the corners. I wouldn't worry... I also would not not worry.

You may get old enough to get young again... presumably Edinburgh will still be there in 40 years when you may begin to consider yourself old.

Yeah, cute... you sell your quirk just as much, but it is less layered with the sense that you are a rock with everything figured out. The playfulness is more casual, and the you're more self deprecating, possibly even vulnerable. All of this mixing with your curious personality and connection to your childhood equals an increase in cute.

The best course of action is to find other ways of getting past yourself. Possibly starting by going too fast, and then applying your intellect to the problem. That one works for me when the inner critic is too narrow-minded or powerful. Drunkenness will probably only work like 4 more times. Or you can just do what excites you, and then get some criticism and adjust from there.(probably the best simple advice I ever got and I still can't really do it.)

That's totally the sort of cross study thing that U.S. universities are famous/infamous for offering. They're also cool.

I worry about whether I'll find my way back... not necessarily to the place I left, but to ... behaving like a human being? I make connections easily, but maintaining them is not something I do well without a frequent meeting place. I also worry about not being able to recoup my expenses, which is silly, since I'm pretty good at that these days.

Homesick not only for Edinburgh, but for any place that is home... hm...
bonzaialsatian's avatar
Haha, oh well that's ok then.

I don't have much to add here except that I can kind of see where you're coming from. And I guess at least more casual and somewhat cute are not bad things So, thanks.

You worry that if you leave for too long you'll stop behaving like a human being? You mean in the moral and mental sense of feeling too stretched between your connections, or in the
physical sense of turning into a pumpkin? I think the connections one makes while traveling are often hard to keep up, as all parties are transitory - as are sometimes connections that one leaves behind when people relocate. I assumed for the longest time that you were a student, though I guess given time scales and the stuff you talk about that doesn't entirely make sense, certainly not anymore. I can't quite picture you in an office or somesuch though (well I also actually picture you as a semi-transparent being that lives in a black-and-white urn (I know that's not quite how the story behind your avatar works, but it's what I now see whenever I look at it), which also makes the office scenario a little unlikely).

Yeah, something like that...
ErnestAbacus's avatar
Less like a human being meaning... my living space will either get way utilitarian, or very weird. I won't maintain many relationships at all, and I'll start believing that everything I think is true. From there I'm just a jacket and a catch phrase away from super villainy.

I'll always be a student. I take all sorts of classes and am gradually, circuitously working towards a Chemistry degree. I also work, and have switched all that around quite a bit... I make more money than I think I do, but my frugality is probably good since I'm now almost totally a spec writer. I've got a few projects that I'm paid peanuts or less to work on, but could pay dividends later. No one can picture me in an office. heh. (well... I'm not exactly transparent...)

bonzaialsatian's avatar
Interesting. It's funny, but I don't see utilitarian or weird living spaces as a remotely bad thing, although I can see how the second two things would be a problem. I'm suspecting that you already own a jacket and a catchphrase (if not, it should incorporate hepcat; not enough supervillains do), so I can see why you'd want to be careful.

Oh cool, I'm pretty envious! Being able to earn enough to live, and still have enough time for classes, projects and stuff seems like quite a ideal situation to be in. ~joffeorama and I were planning to take foundation biology at the local community college this summer, but the out-of-state fees are insane. Now I'm just teaching myself from a UK A-level text book, which is alright except I don't get to cut up stuff or use chemicals.
(ah, so you are semi-opaque)

ErnestAbacus's avatar
I do have a jacket, as a villain I would need another one. I don't think about catchphrases, ever. I probably should. I would not make my living space other people friendly, unless other people had a hand in it from the get-go.

It is cool, but I don't manage it as well as it sounds like I do, and, while I am adaptable, my system isn't terribly robust. It's all a little bit crazy.

Is biology the same in the U.K.?
bonzaialsatian's avatar
It's not a catchphrase if you have to *think* about it!

The problem would be if it was all a little bit banal. Crazy could be more useful, in my experience. Having said that, I always think I could achieve a lot more than I actually end up doing, and in the end some of the down-time actually ends up being more mentally productive - not that I ever learn from that.

Er... yes.
Although as I mentioned earlier, all animals are like pokemon over here, so also no.

Also, I just saw the connection between super-villainy and a chemistry degree, and am now concerned.
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altergromit's avatar
:iconaltergromit::iconsaysplz:Hello there, yes, I remember the *old time* and I miss it... ...I know we use to talk and (believe me, I'm not really "complain") you use to watch or comment my pictures... ...it is not a complain (like I said), I always thought I was going maybe better but I saw you were in some "business" so I know you didn't have time anymore... ...I know it happens... ...It is odd how things are: I think I will be never a good "seller" of my things because every time the "passion for art" has to "change in business" I lose my creativity, I lose the happiness in it... ...From this point of view I'm really a looser... :(
...But anyway, the think I really want to say is I would like find you as friend as we were (I think) having some fun sometime; I miss *Thing*, his great orange color, I miss the "traditional pics" like---> [link] and I bet you know that! :aww:
But I wish, I hope, things are going fine with you! :aww: ...And when you are not in the mood of traveling, stop here and say *hi*!! ;)
...It was 6 years ago, things happened but still... :aww: :hug: :glomp:
deviantART muro drawing Comment Drawing
bonzaialsatian's avatar
I have been busy since I graduated, yes, but I also never stopped appreciating the support I get on here, and watching how my dA friends' work change and develop over time. I just got bad at giving back and commenting, which I felt bad about, but it was also tricky with so much going on.

Anyway, I'm happy that despite my absence I can still reconnect with people on here - and despite some of my hesitations about the internet vs. real life, after all this time I really do consider you and quite a few others as my friends (even though I still think it's funny that I don't really know what any of you look or sound like, and I think of everyone by their usernames even when I know your real name :giggle: )

At least this summer I have more time and won't be so busy. I will try to be here and reconnect more :hug:

p.s. I enter to add a muro drawing too, but my iPad keeps crashing and won't let me :(
altergromit's avatar
...Oh, the "famous" "real life"... :giggle: ...You know, my best friend in my "real life" is a friend I used to talk with here in DA, we talk in DA for more than one year before to know each other in the "real life"! ...So I don't "separate" too much the "real life" to the "virtual (?) life"... :giggle: ...I'll be happy every time I'll meet you here! :aww:

(...Oh, I know, muro can be a real pain in the neck often... :roll: ...Too bad I lost it! :X
...So you "own me a muro pic"! ;) :hug:...)
bonzaialsatian's avatar
That's true. We are all people after all, and I suppose many of my 'real life' friends I now know better in my 'virtual life', since I have moved away. I agree that the distinctions can get somewhat arbitrary sometimes - you, for example, probably know me better through my pictures (and vice versa, or at least the sides of us that we show in our pictures) than some people who I've met in person!

And yes! I owe you a muro...
deviantART muro drawing Comment Drawing
altergromit's avatar
:lol: ....I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.... :dance: :o!!!!....
Thank you!!.... :aww:
deviantART muro drawing Comment Drawing
bonzaialsatian's avatar
I was in bed and half asleep when I saw this big scary (cute) gromit staring at me!

:fear: :glomp: :lol:
altergromit's avatar
Oh, A NIGHTMARE THEN!!!... :laughing: :iconbark-plz:
bonzaialsatian's avatar
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