Friday, August 25, 2023

On being out of the industry (for now...)

I've taken a break from work due to the traumatic impact of psychosis, that I've made clear. Since I've bolstered up my art skills and recovered however, I've taken more notice of the studios asking me for work. I'm getting hundreds of daily views on this blog, unless blogger is lying? Maybe it's due to my years of content, but I overall do not have many subscribers. I thought I'd mention my feelings on being 'out of work' or more like, an outsider in an industry that you once called tentatively a home. 

Of course, nobody can call the animation industry a cushy line of work, it's too risky isn't it? Nobody can be certain they'll have a job in six months, unless they're constantly working to improve! I knew I could make it, if I was on my tippie-toes and arrived at work every day intending to do my best drawings yet. I am very lucky to have worked for nearly 6 years and this experience with Netflix/Dreamworks predominately is why other studios seem to take me seriously. I'm not inundated with work requests. Its not like I'm famous, but, they do pop up. To outsiders, I'm told, 'take the jobs!'. From acquaintances that don't quite understand my predicament. 

To be outside of the industry for now fills me with FOMO. I see other animators having normal artistic careers, but mine has appeared cruelly cut short. I've had to face a darkness that heck, what if I can't draw well ever again? The pictures below fight that fear, but it's what I've been grappling with. An obscene darkness that I may never be the same every again, simply because of psychosis (and I didn't do drugs to deserve it, ok).

I guess the fear of missing out is what hurts the most right now. I want an illustrious career and personal artistic development, I want to grow and be epic! But alas, art has been so very painful, for mysterious reasons. I have some hints on why its been this way, but its too early to say what is the culprit. 

I had two different people approach me in under a fortnight, unprompted, just asking if I was available. My focus is studying, since and really want to finish school for good before moving back into working. 

I want to envision a beautiful future where I have degree and am back in storyboarding work, I will be grateful for anything really. Because right now, working as an artist again has seemed impossible in my warped eyes! Absolutely out of the question! Maybe due to my autism seeing my current work (below) as 'not good enough' to keep up with the demands of animation work? I am now just building up confidence that I can do the cartoony gestures required. 

I'm trying to bridge this part of my mind that's experienced trauma, and can see a beautiful future again. Yes, it's been that depressing, I haven't even allowed myself the ability to dream of a happy future. I am becoming so damn grateful for the smallest things in life, even just like seeing fluttering butterflies in my path. I'm forcing myself into gratitude and some days are harder than others, its hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak, but I'm told not to use cliches so much.

Anyways, what was I meaning to say? Maybe that there's no shame in taking a break from work for whatever reason. I've been somewhat forced into it, I admit, but I am regaining a sense of control with every day. Its not just art, but cooking meals, taking care of myself and doing studies. So, I need to finish this degree, just for fact I can feel content that I actually finished a degree instead of getting cold feet and flailing out of it, like I did with CalFarts. I feel like a rare condition, as basically everyone else has perfect lives, but whatever. I need to go cook a stew.

Below are some life drawings from 'Hubbe Court', Burnside, some paintings (one for a story for class and some train sketches.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

On a panel at Avcon + met Hiroshi Nagahama!

So Avcon 2023 was super awesome for a few reasons! One of the guests was Hiroshi Nagahama, known for being the director of Mushishi. Just the mention of Mushishi takes me back to days spent in my room as a teen absorbing every anime I could get my hands on, always through early 2000s YouTube.

Its Saturday around 1:30pm. Nagahama-san is doing his first talk, creating a live drawing of Spiderman versus Venom and is aided by an interpreter. He obviously has ample respect for Western comics and culture, evidenced by his praise for American cartoons. I found it hard to relax and enjoy the moment, for I was scheduled to be on the panel directly after this legend!

We were instructed to be next to the stage 15 minutes beforehand for our "Women in Gaming" panel at 2:30. Before walking up on stage, the nerves hadn't really began to take effect of me just yet. A man in a blue Avcon volunteers tee then approached us. 

"Mics are on, you can go up there now."  

I teeter out as the second in line and took my seat. When the time came around to say my name into my mic, my hands began to shake despite my best attempts to stop them.

"Hi...I'm Vela."

The entire time, I found it hard to lift my head up and look at the audience, as honestly I was very awkward but hey......that ties into what I said on the panel.

(Photo credit: Rhomenka Vallance, Team Avcon)

The only things I felt like I was proud of mumbling was; my hopes that the industry can begin to accept the stories of people on the autism spectrum and/or with mental health conditions. Stories of neurodivergent people matter as they are usually quite vulnerable, and I'd love to see more characters and stories based directly off of these lived experiences. Basically, fresh outta' the mouths of people who've actually lived such things.

Also, I got a mention of Touhou Project in, which was fun to say. I'm certain I was zoning out staring at an Alley stall in the distance as I said everything in my strange American accent which seems to disarm everyone. After I stepped down from the platform, my friend hugs me.

"You we're amazing!"

I'm certain he was just being nice, as he always is. We scurried away and tried not to loiter, out of my sheer awkwardness. I was thrilled but also extremely anxious I might have said something wrong or held the mic the wrong way. When I get home that Saturday my dad immediately asks me:

"What? You need to get the anime director guys signature! Give him your business card!"
"There's a guest signing tomorrow afternoon! I don't think I should be handing him my business card..."

That night, I didn't sleep a wink. Over and over in my mind I thought, oh my god, I mentioned that company that flopped and maybe someone in the audience thinks I'm being a bitch. I didn't make eye contact when that girl in the audience who asked what our fave games were! Oh my god! I can't go an hour without being doofy and wrong!

Its 3pm Sunday the next day at the "Friends of Avcon" booth and Hiroshi Nagahama is there half an hour early. There is a non-existent line to get a signature from him, I can't believe it! I wait for the two people in front of me to get a custom drawing, the longest 10 minutes ever. He explains to the four or so people in line that one Sharpie was gifted to him by the late Stan Lee, so it is a precious Sharpie he must bring with him to conventions, or something along those lines. I prepared by muttering to myself the formal Japanese introduction I was told to say. Now its my turn, I swiftly bow and say:


He mimics me but looks confused, maybe I said or timed it wrong. He readies his pen and gestures to the paper in front of him. I confess, I had just Googled the characters name, since it must have been decades since I first watched it. 
"Eehto...Ginko onegaishimasu.(Um, Ginko please)"
My friend nudges me to open my sketchbook so I do quickly. I brace myself and take the plunge.
"Watashi wa, sutoriboodo aetisuto desu.(Im a storyboard artist)"
He says so in typical exaggerated Japanese fashion. I flip through the pages of my drawings.
"What? It me?"
The other interpreter calls the Japanese interpreter over and they point to the lady in my sketches.
"Look it's you Hanako!*"
*I don't remember what the interpreter's name is but I'm 55% sure I overheard something similar. 
He turns back to me.
"Donna Sutoribodo desuka? (What sort of storyboards?)"
"Eeto...nettofurikkus (Um, Netflix)" 
"Honto!!!? Sugoi.(Really, awesome!)"
He then asked me what stuff on Netflix. I said in English: How to Train Your Dragon since I worked on a spinoff in series. The other guest, Lisle Wilkerson, who is bilingual, translated for him. His reaction was as expected, the equivalent of 'holy shit' in Japanese. I let them hold my sketchbook, of course. He points at the gesture I did of the crouching photographer.
"Umai desune...(Super good)"
He buckles down and starts drawing Ginko from Mushishi. The voice actress Lisle Wilkerson is sitting nearly right next to him so I show her the silly caricatured drawing I did of her. I wasn't expecting I'd ever be showing it to her!
"Sorry, sometimes I can't get peoples' faces right the first time."
She smiles coyly. 
"No problem, I'm a woman of a hundred faces."
She also seems to have a wealth of expertise so I ask her...
"What do you recommend for someone studying Japanese, other than just living there?"
"Hm. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Lots of Japanese people are really afraid, that's why they rarely leave Japan. You gotta' goof up a bit to learn!"
Nagahama now has finished the drawing by now, and signs it in English. 
"Sutori-aitisto ni Storiboardo-teki na e wo kaita. (For the story artist, I've drawn a storyboard-like picture"."
"Subarashi tomoimasu. arigatougozaimasu.(I think it's wonderful, thanks so much.)" 
"(Don't mention it)."

I leave the convention right after getting the drawing, since I had a family dinner that night. With my mind whirling and an original Sharpie drawing in my little clear bag, I slouch down into my well deserved train seat.

Don't be afraid to make mistakes, that is what that confident bilingual voice actress said, huh. Whether its through speaking Japanese to one man, or speaking English to an entire convention hall, I feel like I've started to conquer my fear of goofing up. What an awesome Avcon. Over and out~

Thursday, July 13, 2023

female autism and conformity

I am reflecting on how autism has shaped me over my youth, yeah more rumination. I just feel like it. Autism hasn't been all sunshine and cartoon drawings, it's had it's fair bit of challenges. They told me at my diagnosis session that I aligned perfectly with being autistic, that my childhood was happy and free but adulthood is where many girls suffer.

I read some blog posts lately that often talk about the erosion of self that comes when autistic girls attempt to conform in teenage years and beyond. I don't want to admit that I've masked and conformed, but I've been hurt by a pressure to be a different person than who I really am. As I might have mentioned in a post last year, I endured an autistic man telling me I was 'masking with everything I was saying'. Well, I would be downright rude to his face if I wasn't. Not only that, but a man with BPD in the ward in 2021 reprimanded me for having a 'personality that shapeshifts depending on who I was around'. Of course, both these men are very unwell in their own ways, but it got me thinking. 

I want to be my true self. Somedays I'm stronger than others. I choose clothes that make me feel comfortable rather than pretty often, I smile subtly at myself in the mirror. I let myself peer down into the trauma of decades past, but not dive too deep. I accept that life hurts and that I'm still undergoing an agony due to psychosis damage, but I am proud of my life journey. That's what it comes down to, a pride in yourself. 

This pride for me is in accepting I am what others may consider a 'late bloomer', but that isn't something I let define me. I take pride in my individuality and love of solitude, of inner imaginative worlds where I never have feel alone. Art is not only a calming 'stimming' activity, but an intense special interest which I've honed and polished and been able to make my career! That's awesome, I reckon! That's where 'autism' can be considered a superpower. It's just important to know it hasn't all been a walk in the park.

People tend to undermine female autism especially. 
Oh, everyone has some degree of autism, I get drained around people.
Oh, you can make eye contact and hold down a job.
Oh, you aren't flailing your hands and hitting people.
Oh, you aren't suffering that much right? 
Oh, you can't be that autistic.
No. It has a sadness and a darkness which I won't dive into right now.
Autism isn't just getting drained around people. I feel like my fear of judgement has made me seem like a worried, cold and unpleasant woman. I am those traits sometimes in little ways, but its not representative of me really. I am actually warm, loving and fun, but hide away from many people because the challenge of getting to know them often has too many hurdles. So when people aren't open in return, I give up. Why bother when people put up big barriers and play mind games? Well, I can't stand that sort of behaviour, but I'm afraid because many people these days engage with agendas. Whether its in the fact a man may only befriend me because of the possibility of dating, or in how girls especially make assessments based on whether they think you're worthy hanging around them, like a pretty accessory, I find the agendas too much.

My agenda is I want connections. I want to feel deeply and whether its friendship or more, that's my agenda.
So in short, I need to manage autism like I manage bipolar.
Autism doesn't require heaps of meds and blood tests to check your lithium levels, it requires self insight to realise you are ruminating and thinking in black and white. The monochromatic thinking is probably my biggest weakness and proof of the severity of my autism, besides the medical certificate.
I struggle to reel it in and see the good sketches I do...
To see the stories I write aren't half bad.
To see the games I've made, and how I've learnt what a switch statement is.
To see that I'm not ugly, inside and out.
To see that I have the capacity to form friendships and love. 
Yeah, this melodrama makes me who I am too. I may be a bit of an emotional whirlwind even on good days, but I know I have a strength that can forge an easier future. It's already happening. :) Cya. 

Saturday, July 08, 2023

bitter nostalgia of decades past


I see people going to my site make a beeline for my old blog posts, it makes me feel disrespected. There are nothing but decade old dead and dusted 'followers' on blogger yet, I don't care. I's honestly damn cool to keep the blogger spirit alive, seeing as I abandoned my Tumblr, don't think I deleted it, just made it private like I had for this one. For that reason, chunks of my art-life (and life) are private online, lost to the scrolling abyss of Facebook, or in the hundreds of raunchy art and bile-filled Tweets deleted. 

Twitter I can deal with losing, it was (is still) a toxic environment for me. A place as intimately aspirational as this one however, I can't bear to part with. I'm somewhat interested in the thought of my work being an internet relic, like how much I damn wish they preserved the charm of Neopets, back before Viacom bought it and leeched all the life from the art.
I have been reminiscing about my Calfarts days, which I often do. This time however, a bit more actively, as I've decided to write a travel piece about my time in Los Angeles. It may have been a long time ago, as time continues to escape me, but it is a time of my life that continues to haunt me. I think since I've faced the darkness of being rejected as a 'good' artist post psychosis, I've had to face that the Calarts dream of fame and fortune I thought I needed to obtain is truly a sickening pursuit not meant for someone like me. I've had to face that there are limits to how hard a wounded brain can push itself and limitations on the soul of cruelly not being 'good enough'.

No. I am 'good' enough. 
It doesn't matter if people only click on my 'pre psychosis' blog.
It doesn't matter if others don't value my life 'post psychosis'.
I am alive and kicking. That's what really matters.
Someday I will die, but maybe this blog will still be around. Thanks to Google's policies?
Honestly, truly, just being real....Calarts reminds me of days of budding love and sexuality, the latter being something I didn't feel so strongly when I was a bit younger. Unfortunately, college was full of distressing moments, a feeling of not being adequate romantically, which has ended up tormenting me for a very long time. As I leave my 20s behind me, I hope I can say I'm approaching an era of my life which I can fully heal, from the bitter experiences of that barely 19 year old girl. The trauma of my mid-to-late twenties has really thrown me for a loop, and made it harder to untangle the earlier youthful pain from the 'psychotic blackout traumer'. Then again, there I go being intimate online. In a public place where morons can go and message me on Facebook saying: "I see you've had a hard time for a long time.." etc. as nosy losers have done. 

I cried while drawing the below picture. For I felt a great healing and love surge through me by drawing that bright eyed gaze. A look without judgement, pity or anything bad It is simply pure love.
Still what I have taken from the Calarts dream isn't all negative. I worked harder than ever, pushed myself past the brink of madness with drawing, seeking, playing and experiencing. I lived for art, but then again, didn't I always? It's evidenced by the free willed and vivacious sketches I did during my time in high school at damn Pembroke. 

It's all here, on this blog. I had a spirit before Calarts and I'll carry a spirit onwards. I thought I should say, no offense to Calartians, really, but it was a vulnerable time and place for a few people I knew. I'm not alone. I think shoving a bunch of intense dreamers of various personality types in a confined college setting, it going to be a recipe for disaster. I regret not being stronger, mature and more 'with it' sort of person but still, I do not regret my reasons for ultimately dropping out. There was something wrong with the experience for me. 

I only felt like people felt my art with reaching success with Disconnected on YouTube. Anyways, I've rambled way too long and fallen down the bittersweet nostalgia rabbit hole. I regretfully admit however, this crunchy carrot is very bitter. 

Friday, June 30, 2023

Winter school and looking forward to Avcon

I have finished up semester one of Adelaide uni and am currently in winter school doing Travel Writing. My family have been overseas in America and Sri Lanka so I've been struggling with all the 'being alone in a massive house with nobody to engage with outside of school two days a week'. Today has been a tough day, I have a lot on my plate, things that aren't just school but MUCH bigger. I'm anxious about getting grades back and maybe doing badly. Since my content for one of my stories may not be so successful as I imagined in my head, and the other one is kinda poopy too. Plus don't get me started on my Japanese tests....groan.

I sewed some stuff toys lately (pictured at bottom here). Two fish and a sheeplike thing. It was really comforting working with textiles, even if the pieces aren't perfectly matching up.

I have tried to physical journal to keep from barfing verbal nonsense into poor unsuspecting people on Instagram and such. Writing on the computer is another cure for this anxiety, as I am enjoying writing on the Adelaide Convention Centre memories of Avcon, because it's a bit timely. That's coming up fairly soon! Speaking of Avcon, I'm involved with them this year on something cool, but they have yet to post the schedule, huh. There is like 19 days to go, what! Anyways, soon I'll be able to say what I'm participating with, and that will be really cool. Heck, they even asked for a bio, I hope I get some damn publicity out of this!

I uploaded some 'new' games to my Three to be specific. They are some games that are still a bit basic or broken but I think it's good for me to put them up there as 'prototypes' and examples of my work, like a portfolio. I even uploaded our 2020 GGJ submission, because my art was good back then.

Anyways, somedays it is possible for me to be 'productive' and get some schoolwork our game dev programming out. It's not possible every day, but I can still have 'good days', through maybe doing one drawing, cooking a tasty meal, even playing Pokémon Sword and Violet has helped my mood. Nido-family forever!

Blogging may not be seen by many people, but it's a little voice I've kept alive here, all these years.

Friday, May 05, 2023

Honestly just doing my best

Pre social media, I used to just post things here and write 5 words. Now we are brimming to the britches with likes and follows and societal brainwashing.

I just want the viewer to smile on the inside, like I did, when I created the drawing.

I regret losing years of my life to Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Stolen, but I let it happen. Not simply because they thought their platforms deserved my content but because I scrolled. As I did, I lost my soul. Only now I am trying to regain an innocence, something that is rekindled with Blogger for me.

Blah blah, I never used to write more than 10 words at a time on this blog in the past, where did the wordy garbage come from? I'm doing my best. 

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Whos Afraid of Storyboard Pro?

I started an animatic to another Monstercat song in 2019. Yeah, way back before all this chaos blossomed. I have wanted to get back into doing animation projects lately, but simply animating hasn't scratched the itch for me. I crave storytelling, I crave depicting an emotional journey as a whole. Sometimes illustrating meaningful things does this, but I also love the adrenaline of crafting moving drawings.

So I thought, well, there is that animatic I started ages ago that is in a solid place, but needs refined drawings and 'inbetweens', yes, because modern day storyboarding is basically animating in my experience. I have 5+ years of experience but worry that my past employers have eyed me like eagles this entire time I've been struggling, and come to conclusion that I am not worth hiring. Probably because of my autism and bipolar, which are fairly problematic when they aren't controlled, as I've learnt the hard way. T__T I'm just living for the day when I feel at peace and without this dread in my head. I feel this way because I've had my art abilities dampened significantly and have felt like I've lost a part of myself, permanently I have thought. No. Doctors all say it'll come back. It is quite a feat to draw for solid hours, as I find it very draining. It's painful since I used to live at my Cintiq, now it's like an alien monolith I'm slowly decrypting. 

It would be nice to put all my 'skills' together and make splendid background illustrations for my animations. I want hope more than anything. With every stroke of the pen, I pray. I want to feel like I have a future, I haven't been gifted such a luxury. Others don't know this agony in my heart, but I have gradually been learning to love myself and with every month spent out of a ward, I can feel my brain start to heal. 

On a side note, I love my glowing rainbow keyboard I cleaned with compressed air recently. I am also grateful for the Rooibos tea poured for me by my dad's partner this afternoon. I'm filled with an appreciation for the glittering brilliant little joys in this life. Little things like happiness gleamed from new favorite songs, from doing any drawing that turns out ok and telling myself  'that's a good one!'. There is also doing a little dancing around the craft room in the twilight hours. Also grateful for getting into Osu!although I notice the website happens to be down right now.

I hope I can better approach life with optimism that things can and will get better, I have indulged in pessimism and misery too long, I'm done with it. Someday soon I'll be able to live independently again, have a job, make new friends and confidently face life with a smile, to conquer this darkness that has been plaguing me. The memories of the ward and time on the streets haunt me, but my mind is my temple, and I can control how I feel. It is hard, but I can see a way through it all. Don't really know what else to ramble about for today. Dad says it's no wonder I'm a writer, I'm so damn melodramatic.  Below is some arts, over and out~

Below is in progress but it's taking forever and I doubt it'll ever be there but hey, I'm arting.

Monday, April 10, 2023

Ocean awareness game in progress

I'm adapting the spacey-snakey-lizard brick-breaker game I did for ADG Slam Jam 2 to make a game with local Adelaide start-up and not-for-profit. I wont say the their name quite yet. It will have themes of ocean awareness in it once I get the basic mechanics working. Sigh, that will be a bit of a feat given my amateurish at best programming skills.

The adorable mascots are from left to right; Bree, Ying, Toba and Sam. Below is some gameplay. You use the (magical) sea slug to break the rubbish out of the clump and collect it into your (also seemingly magical) sack. The way in which the 3 other characters will be used is still in progress, such is the path of the game dev. I hope this game can inspire children to think more about our impact on the ocean, because the games I grew up with inspired me to care more about things. Take ZuPaPa or New Zealand Story for example, they got me interested deeply in art and crafting cartoon worlds. So who knows what this game could inspire in children and adults alike.
Below is the ball pushing animation but it's taking some time to implement the animations working nicely. I am the sole programmer and game dev on the project now.
Tacky art for the instructions screen (still in progress). All this stuff takes time and with the code, it takes a lot of brainpower to do it on your own!
I feel great dread over my art. Because I know that it's not at the level I used to be at. I have a knee-jerk insecure reaction when I see certain people, like the fancy-pants animator types from Australia I used to know, looking at my stories on Instagram. It was a story where I was trying to be a creative and a wholesome hooman bean, I think, so why feel bad? Point is, I don't have to. I'm doing my best with what I have. All drawing is draining for me. I can't say much more, because I sound like an big bummer once I start typing. 

Yet nobody is here for walls of text huh. You can tell I've changed since Calfarts years. Still, this art is ok. Here are some recent finished and WIPs of sorts. I blog when I have the impulse to every few days. I don't get much traffic here anyways.Better get back to work on art or code, over and out!