Feb 15, 2013

A bit of history

Last week I had a conversation with my boyfriend/fiance about blogs, about what makes people get interested, about what is interesting anyway. And I said something to him about that I think what is interesting in this world, at least to me, is to have a small look in people's minds and show and share something personal. But I wasn't even doing a lot of that in my own life, or on my own blog. I thought about sharing something personal with a deeper explanation to the 'why' and all. And I thought about combining it with something like a theme. The theme is passion, fandom, inspiration. Or short: 'love' (this is totally not related to today being Feb. 15).

When did I began drawing? Not at any different sort of time than any other kid I think. I can't say something that a lot of illustrators can, which is "I have been drawing from whenever I could hold a pencil in my hand". I wasn't obsessed with it, I still don't think I am, but that might only be because my definition of 'obsession' is something like an unhealthy thing, whereas I think my love for drawing and painting is healthy. Well, usually.

Something I can say though is: I guess I've always liked cartoons. As a kid I was always up very early at Saturdays and watched the cartoons at the public broadcasting channel. Mind you that, because it was the public channel (we didn't have anything else because my parents live on the countryside) it weren't commercial series like Power Rangers, Dexter's lab and so on. I watched Franco-Belgian series like Spirou et Fantasio, The adventures of TinTin but also series like the Bamboo Bears and Montana Jones.

Bamboo Bears was one of my fav. cartoon series 'back in the days'.
I never thought of really drawing them though, although when I was nine years old I had an artist as a teacher in my class and he encouraged drawing so I started drawing animals and it was fun to do. a year later I created some kind of cartoony character, which was a cute but crazy seal. I think I created a character because one of my friends that I met on the bus was very into writing and telling stories and she already had a cool character... I think I was inspired by her. On the bus we used to play with the animal figurines we brought from our homes. I remember writing stories about a dolphin too, who interacted with my friends' character (who was a squirrel, but who cares anyway... XD).
My first character design looked something like this. 
When I'll find the sketches I'll show you! Pretty embarrassing though :P.
Whereas the first cartoon series I mentioned before had main human characters, the latter had anthropomorphic characters that seemed to spark my interest. I've never been much of a peoples-person and at home we had lots of pets (and when I say lots, I mean lots. Like..people asking if we were a children's farm or a small zoo). Yet, I'm the youngest of the six kids my parents had and so I also had a lot of people around me as well. 
Another thing I have to tell you is that, because we had 'people' around us we also had computers in our house, from early on. Which also sparked my interest for interactive programs and games. Even before I saw Pokémon as a TV series, I already saw it in the yearly toy-booklet that the main toy stores always published at the game-boy section. Not that I had a game-boy. Yet.
Remember these?

This seems like a long introduction of what I want to tell you, but it's actually probably the reason why I fell in love with the Pokémon series. In the years that my father couldn't have a job anymore because of health reasons, we got satellite television. Not yet the commercial kind though, but I had access to foreign channels, where under RTL2, the German channel that broadcasted a lot of (Japanese) anime series. Including Pokémon!

Next to that there are also other reasons why I (still) love Pokémon. I'm not Professor Oak so I'll try to explain it in my own, non-scientific ways.

Of course it has a pretty standard story-line where a kid has to finish a quest of some sort, have hard times and good times and meets loads of people.
But what makes it special and stand out is its cute character designs of the pokémon. Creatures that look like (real-world-)animals but are fantasy animals. I think in a world that somehow resemble ours we still can understand that fantasy world, a series like that is easily accessible to a wide audience. Yet it is an enhanced fantasy world where the 'animals' can actually understand what you mean and where you can interact with them, including exciting fights and having amazing bonds with them.
The designs of the pokémon are quite cartoony yet sophisticated as well. Each has it's own charms and it's own characteristics, and some even have their own mysterious story. Because of that we easily see them as stand-alone characters instead of just part of a crowd, nature. And thus they play an important part in the story.

I love how they put so much traits and personality in these cards.
Japanese anime/manga style got me interested from the very start anyway, it was less realistic in style than western cartoons, which made it less scary and made it more easily for me to emerge myself in the fantasy stories. But where the art style was less realistic, the emotions in most anime are more like the emotions that felt were important in real life. Perhaps a bit exaggerated but believable nonetheless.

Apart from the characters I also really liked the background art. It looked a lot like watercolor paintings, but I knew it was digitally made. The landscape reminded me places we did go on holiday, places with hills and forests. The idea of travelling and having an adventurous journey among such surroundings didn't sound like a punishment to me.

Look at those surroundings, I certainly think this is something that I see reoccurring in my own art.
But Pokémon is more than the TV series. It's also a role playing game where you can play as the main character and have to try to catch pokémon while having adventures and fighting evil yourself.
Lots of people must 'still' know about the trading card game as well, although I don't think most kids actually really played the card game but just collected the cards or wanted to be part of the mania.

I wasn't really a small kid anymore when the Pokémon mania began in the Netherlands (Middle-high school starts when you're about 12/13 years old and I felt like I was supposed to be careful with choosing my interests so people didn't think I was still a kid anymore...but I obviously still was somehow). Yet I was still excited about it, so somehow the easiest thing I could think of doing with it on my own, was drawing. Drawing the pokémon that I loved. and it worked, I somehow seemed to be quite good at it.

The rest is history I guess.
So there, that's where the point was where I was at least a bit conscious of having a love and spark for both drawing and an inspiring story. Hope you enjoyed reading it :).