If I had to say one thing, it’s that it’s an interesting curve – this little spot that I carved out of the internet called Pikaland.
Six years ago I was a magazine editor running around, organizing, writing, commissioning, reviewing, interviewing, and reading – all in the name of architecture and design. When I was 12 me and my friends talked about how our careers would look like when we were all grown up. I wanted to be a magazine editor, and travel the world. I did the first, though not so much the second. Yet. So it was check and done, and I moved on.
I read voraciously. If you could imagine a hungry person shoving food into their mouths like their life depended on it, then words were my nourishment. I became enthralled with illustrations. I still kept the beautiful picture books from when I was young, silverfish be damned. When I walked into a bookstore and felt my whole skin tingle from the top of my head to my very toes. And the need to pee badly. That would have meant I was in the vicinity of books. Hundreds of them.
I was curious. I was hungry. I had this massive itch that could only be quelled through research into this wonderful new world of illustration that I had found. So I started a blog to share what I uncovered. This blog.
Back then, I started posting about illustrators who had online shops that I could peruse – the ones I’d discover on Etsy, or on other blogs and the ones that I came across in magazines and books. I was engrossed in how they turned their craft into something that was also functional. Prints, totes, books, stationery – they swept me off my feet. It was not only just about illustrations, but about the entrepreneurial spirit of artists. The blog became my little scrapbook – snippets of illustrators along with words I’d put together to verbalize what I absorbed.
It was also a way of educating myself. I wanted to understand the field – how things were done, how an image was made, a story was told. I found it magical that people could make a living at doing something that they loved. I sharpened my senses and learned on the fly, digging deep and challenged myself by asking questions that I was only happy to prod. The questions always started with a “why”, more than the “how”, which is why you’ll find that I hardly dive into the technicalities behind illustrations. It was never about trying to recreate the work of any artist, rather it was the need for me to get into their heads, to find out why they did what they did. For me it was always the story – its essence and the message that flows from the artist, to me, the viewer.
The first few years of starting this blog saw me writing almost everyday about the illustrators I’ve discovered. In turn I got some fans. I started to take on illustration commissions, and after a couple of years, I stopped. I wrote some more. By the fourth year, my writings had veered towards finding patterns from one illustrator to another. I knew how to read into the intent of an artist. My search into meaning continues and I subconsciously look for ways to be surprised, taken in, amused. And when I arrive at that magical point in time where I go “A-ha!” – it’s like uncovering a secret treasure, something private that’s only shared between me and them. I love the feeling.
And with the fifth and now sixth year, more changes crept in. Writing about new illustrators I’d found didn’t seem necessary any more (although I still did my research) since the invention of Pinterest and Tumblr, where new works from artists could be repinned, forwarded and linked with an ease that was never available before. My work as an adjunct teacher at a local college of design (where I teach about creativity and the illustration process since 2012) has also spurred my confidence that I could make a difference, no matter how small it may be. I’ve found the intersection of my passions, and a renewed sense of purpose along with it.
It was never about trying to recreate the work of any artist, rather it was the need for me to get into their heads, to find out why they did what they did.
So now, instead of breadth, I am going for depth. All those years of looking, watching, and researching has helped shaped my worldview of the current situation of illustration, where I’ve gathered great feedback from all of you (thank you readers!) and it’s also where I’ve subconsciously noticed a pattern and an evergreen process on how to manage one’s creative business through my own experiences as a freelancer while running Pikaland.
Steve Jobs’ quote from his commencement address in 2005 said it best – “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.” So here I am. I’ve connected my dots, all of which has lead me to this very moment. I look forward to making a difference and laying down more dots in time and I hope you’ll join me.
SHARE WITH ME:
Why do you do what you do? Look back at your own history and try to connect the dots – what can you see? Write down your revelations in the comments below – I’d love to hear your story!