When I was 12, I had just been exposed to digital art after having first visited the magical paradise that is the internet. Digital art was amazing and convenient all at the same time to mini me, who had lived all of my prior art life with pens and coloured pencils. Soon after, I obtained my first tablet and my digital art spree started from there. I think throughout my first years with digital art, I had nothing in mind except to have fun, and be able to just crap out pretty pictures for my own indulgence. Great times were had, but on the flip side, I didn’t really learn anything art related properly. All I did was drawing the same type of pictures over and over again, pretty girls, sparkles and flowers and dodge and burn everywhere without the slightest clue about what on earth composition or anatomy or colour theory could possibly mean.
Not that I think I would have cared anyway, if I found out about them; I just wanted to enjoy myself and I wasn’t going to start practicing for a hobby. I already had to do that for piano so my laziness told me I wasn’t going to practice for art. But man do I pay a dear price now for that negligence since I’m a full time freelance artist! I’m not the type of person to dwell on what I could have done in the past as everything I have done would’ve contributed in one way or another to my accomplishment today and I would not change it. But if I could go back in time when I was 12, I probably would have had a lot to say to myself still, so that I have better foundations to stand on today.
I would have told myself to read a lot more manga/comics, or just read manga/comics, period. I’ve had a lot of surprised reactions from people about the fact that despite running my own manga series–one with style clearly derived from Japanese comics–I don’t actually read manga. I think I’ve read a grand total of about 5 complete series over my entire life, plus 2 or 3 mangas that I only read a few chapters of. This is even less for anime, movies and general television franchise. I am certain I miss out on a lot of essential knowledge about manga–or even comics–from this alone, which is significant damage for me since I don’t have education background to back me up either. As a music graduate, I realize now the importance of repertoire and environment. Even if I don’t consciously study each piece of work I come across, having come across countless works would have taught me a lot of the living, breathing life of what makes natural manga/comics.
I would have also told myself to draw a lot more sequential art rather than illustrations, whether or not it will eventually amount to a meaningful story. I have learned so much from drawing comic pages alone, having fun in the process since I cared about my stories, than illustrations because it forces me to do so many things I would otherwise never do. Maybe I would have willingly recognized the importance of understanding the basics of art a little sooner through this, without the need to force myself into practicing, and built myself a better foundation for drawing later on.
Still, even if my 12-year-old self refused to listen to these advices, I don’t think there would be any problems. What fun is life without things for you to take your time and figure out on your own? This is always what made drawing enjoyable for me, and if I have to take twice the time getting to a certain skill level because I didn’t know any better, all I would hope for would be enough time in my life for me to enjoy the most of this process (: