So this journal is kinda an extension of my Summary of Art post for 2017
. I mention the year briefly there, but go into greater detail here.
If you're someone who is reading this journal, you may also have noticed how little art I've posted this past year. 2017 has been a massive rollercoaster for me, where a lot of things have happened, both good and bad. I'm gonna try and put the year into words which is something I have not done before.
This year started with a Master's course in concept art. I've always loved art, and always been pretty decent at it. But for some reason, I found concept art super difficult. I couldn't keep up with the pace of everyone else in my class, so my art suffered greatly as a result. I've always been the overachiever, straight A student, so being what I considered to be below average really got to me. It knocked my self esteem on a level I can't even begin to describe.
I relied very heavily on my housemates, because most of my friends for my undergrad course had finished Uni and moved away. I'm terrible in crowds and at socialising, and my lack of confidence made it difficult for me to make new friends. My housemates are a couple, and I found myself upset when they'd do things without me (which of course was only fair, since they're together!). But with my low self esteem, it definitely knocked me lower and this put an unfair strain on them as well.
I began to procrastinate with my work, because of how depressed and scared it made me feel. I played Overwatch a lot, and I took a HUGE step and joined the reddit OW discord server for the purpose of finding groups to play with for competitive. This led to me making a few friends there, making our own discord server, and watching that grow as friends of friends were introduced or when we met cool people in game and invited them. I'm so close to a few of them now that one actually came to visit me all the way from Finland recently (I live in the UK). I'll forever be grateful for the friends that I've made here.
----------------------ABOVE: My friend and I went to a cat cafe while she was here!
Fast forward six months, and I manage to scrape passes on my Uni work with the aid of some extensions, but my mental health hit rock bottom as a result of this and the isolation I felt. I did barely any of my own art in this time period, because I was so down about my shortfalls in my uni course. It made me feel like my art was never going to be good enough. My depression however had become such an issue that I asked to postpone my Uni course for six months. I also had to move away from the house I was in as the contract ended. I wasn't able to live with the same friends again, and unable to afford a single place on the minimum wage jobs there, I had to move back to live with my parents, where the rent was cheaper.
Around this time, I also got a confirmed diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome
, which is a form of autism, which was something I'd been trying to push for for about a year. I didn't know how to feel about this at first. I realised that a lot of mistakes that I have made in the past were because of this, and it helped with dealing with those things. But on the other hand, I realised this is not something that will ever change - I will always be this way. Some of those mistakes are things that caused me to lose a lot of people important to me, most of whom I barely get to talk to anymore, even now. It lifted a weight on me, but created a new one in the process, leaving me feeling kind of neutral about it in the end.
Some time passed at my parents house. I applied to a lot of part time jobs, but never managed to get any so instead I threw myself into my online shop, as that was my only source of income (since commissions are pretty rare for me). I went to some conventions too, sold there. Most went really well. The money I earn from my shop is not quite enough to pay my rent, but it puts a huge dent on it and really helps out. I still have some savings, so I'm using those for now for the shortfalls, until I can get a job after Uni is done.
Without Uni looming over me, I found it a lot easier to think in a less destructive way. I set up an art desk in my room, and tried to get back into personal art with Inktober. I only made it to Day 7, which sounds really short, but a whole week of consistently doing art was a BIG deal for me. It helped with a lot. I really felt like I was getting better with my depression as a result as well, between getting back into art, my discord friends, and by watching a Youtube channel called Cow Chop (they upload daily, and it's amazing how much of a difference having something consistent to look forward to every day is).
Late October, I was watching a video tutorial or something (I don't remember too well) where someone was explaining how they visualise things before they draw them. They explained how they pictured things in their head, and it REALLY confused me. I thought it seemed like a super power, until I read the comments and realised it wasn't a superpower.
Pretty much everyone can do it.
I googled it, and yeah, it's a normal thing. And a huge pit of dread formed in my stomach. I can't even begin to describe that feeling.
Turns out, I have something called Aphantasia
, which is where you cannot see any form of imagery in your head. It's just black nothingness, no matter how hard I try. Where people can remember things, for example, like faces, I cannot. If you asked me to describe my mother, I would be able to list the facts that I know about her, but I cannot picture her face in my mind.
It's not an autistic thing, but with what little research has been done, it seems like it's more common in autistic people than the general population. But learning I had aphantasia, I came to a realisation. This was a big contributing factor as to why I was so slow at concept art. Everyone else could visualise their concepts, whereas I would have to research just to give me ideas, and then gather HUGE amounts of reference material to draw just one original picture (as opposed to fanart where you're re-adapting existing things). I'd literally enrolled on the worst possible art related course for someone like me.
ABOVE LEFT: Art that I could just copy from a photograph (fully painted with no tracing though! >)
ABOVE MIDDLE LEFT: Art that I had plenty of time gather lots of reference and make multiple attempts with, but had to make up
ABOVE MIDDLE RIGHT: Art that I had some time to gather ref for and had to make up
ABOVE RIGHT: Art that I had no more than a few days to gather ref for and create and had to make up
And this got to me. This REAAAALLY got to me. Waaaaay more than the autism diagnosis did. I did nothing for several days but cry in private, because everything I'd worked so hard at for 6 years, was something that was never going to work out well for me (or at least not in a professional sense). I was pissed off that I was at a permanent disadvantage. I was upset that I hadn't known sooner. I was filled with dread that it felt like I'd wasted an important part of my life.
I got really down for about a week, until I talked to my mum about it. She responded with "Well how are you able to draw then?" and this made me start crying again. I explained it to her and she helped me to realise that my future doesn't have to be art. It's never too late to change what you want to do. Somewhere in this conversation I also realised that, in a roundabout way, Aphantasia was probably what had made me so good at art in my earlier years. When I was young, all I did was copy things. I was spot on with my copies of things like manga, and really good at replicating colours. I could also draw pretty well from real life, and I guess this is because I have no visual mind or memory to interfere with what I'm looking at. I HAVE to look at things, or else I have nothing to work from, so I don't make as many mistakes, and I'm amazing at spotting when something is wrong.
ABOVE: Some art from when I was age 14 - 15 ish
So I thought about this for a while. My undergrad course was Animation and VFX and I tried to think about what I was good at on that course, since I did enjoy it a lot. I came to the conclusion that I was best at editing and directing, both because I'm good at making things up as I go along and I can spot mistakes and thus know how to make things look professional. Because I'd been watching Cow Chop everyday, it occurred to me that I'd enjoy and be good at running my own youtube channel. I thought about what I could and couldn't do on my own, and started editing my PlaysTV clips from gameplay with my friends, to make funny, highly edited videos
. They're not at all popular because I'm just starting out and the Youtube algorhyms are f**ked (I mean you don't need me to give you examples but here's a recent one
) but it's something I really enjoy doing. It made me realise how much I enjoy editing when the content is driven by me, like it was when I was directing things previously.
------------------------ABOVE: My youtube channel (need to revamp that 2014 art though to make it more relevant to my videos now haha)
I also realised that I'd probably be okay with an ordinary job, so long as it's not one that's hell for my autism (like working in a loud and busy shopfront where there's too much stimuli for example), so long as I can do these things on the side. I've decided that I'm gonna shoot for an editing job now ideally, although I'll have to get a normal job to save money first, so I can afford to move to a new place where the jobs are (I live in a small seaside town that has the worst average wage in the country because it's all seasonal work and nothing else really hahaha). But for the first time in my life, I'm not so afraid of failing anymore. With the internet, and the creative freedom it gives people like me, I'm always gonna be able to do the things that I like on the side.
It's now 2018. As I type this, I've managed to get three videos on my channel since I started in November, with work happening on a fourth. I've made new art for my shop, booked to sell at some more conventions in 2018, and started drawing for fun again. And I feel like, for the most part, I'm at peace now with the flaws I have that I have no power to change. My depression has gotten a lot better and I'm off my medication. I am however, starting the final part of my uni course now. It scares me, because of the stress it caused me before, and because it will be hard since I'm doing it off campus. But I'm going to give it the best that I've got, and then move forward with the next part of my life.
If you've made it this far, I'm pretty amazed! It feels like a massive ramble on my part. Probably because I've never put these feelings into written words before, all together like this.
If you have any questions about Aspergers or Aphantasia, don't be afraid to ask. I don't mind answering them at all. c: It's really good when people make an effort to understand things and it should definitely be encouraged!
Now onwards to 2018! I'll try and post more art this year! xD Thank you everyone for your continued support