Atashi wa… (Revised)

Note: I first posted this painting with no explanation, because I was so damn proud of it I needed to get it out there. But somewhere in the night I thought that’s not really how blogging is supposed to work, so here is a proper story surrounding this piece…

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The first time I heard of Sailor Moon I was in second or third grade. It was actually a commercial for the dolls that I saw first, but in under a minute and with barely any context I fell in love. Five girl superheroes. Magic powers. A princess and an evil sorceress and a secret kingdom on the moon… My young mind was blown. You have to understand, there was NOTHING else like it at the time. Up until that point I only ever watched Power Rangers or Ninja Turtles and such — basically things geared toward young boys because the things that girls were supposed to watch I found terribly boring. So just this brief flash of something else was absolutely incredible.

I immediately began drawing the characters and sharing them with my friends. We would assign roles and all throughout recess we would play. Whatever I didn’t know I filled in with imagination, but my mom would soon discover the source of that wonderful ad…a television show on Cartoon Network. We didn’t have cable, so my grandma would record the show and send me the tapes. They were usually out of order but I lapped it all up anyway. Within a few years I became a Sailor Moon expert and I was drawing her with such convincing likeness to the show itself that unless someone saw me at work they assumed I was tracing.

And then I happened upon the anime section of our local video rental store. After Sailor Moon came Ranma 1/2, Project A-Ko, Magic Knight Rayearth, Saber Marionette J…so on and so on. I loved it all, mostly for the art itself. Big eyes, hair of all colors, extensive detail, and an overall prettiness to every character, every frame. That was it, I wanted to be an anime artist. I spent hours and hours recreating my favorite characters, making my own characters, drawing, writing, living and breathing this entire genre until finally one mean high school teacher told me that it was all a big waste of time because anime and manga can only be made by Japanese people in Japan. And then a college professor told me that it wasn’t art I was creating and that I needed to start focusing on big, important pieces that capture some hidden message about the human condition or a social commentary. Finally CGI films started hitting big and the interest in hand drawn animation became something just for hardcore fans and I was defeated. Anytime I caught myself doodling those familiar faces I would become angry with myself and the process became so painful that for years I stopped drawing anything altogether.

So this painting was a decade long itch that I was finally able to scratch. And you know what? Fuck the haters. Who cares if this isn’t art or if it isn’t original or whatever else. I love it. I loved doing it. I’m going to do more of it. I wish I never stopped.

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