Books, Subscription Boxes

Otherworlds FairyLoot

One of the boxes I am on a “permanent” subscription is FairyLoot, and somehow I haven’t done an unboxing of any boxes yet, so here goes the first one.

20170825_192459.jpg

The theme of the box was Otherworlds which sounded quite interesting. Let’s see what was inside (starting from bottom left corner, going clockwise):

  • A Northern Lights print by Melissa Nettleship.
  • Underneath the print there are also two samplers, one for Blackwing and one for Godsgrave (I already have both samplers, and Blackwing is signed so this was a repeat but not complaining).
  • The book this month was Wicked like a Wildfireby Lana Popovic. It was already on my TBR list so this is a win in my eyes and isn’t it such a gorgeous cover?
  • A magnetic bookmark pairby Paperly and Co, there were 3 different pairs and I got Arwen and Aragorn (aren’t they cute?) which made me quite happy.
  • A Peter Pan inspired notebook by TJLubrano (in case you didn’t know, I really like her work so getting anything new from her will make me happy, though I do wish there were more mugs from her). Also, you can’t see it but on the inside it has a map on the back and a quote on the front. It’s really cute.
  • A Witchsoul candle by Book&Nook. I got Azareen but apparently there were 5 different smells.
  • A Westeros tea infuser in the shape of a sword. It looks really cool, but I have to say what I usually say, it is quite impractical. Getting the loose leaf tea out of it is tricky and you end up with bits and pieces stuck to it. Also, this would have been better if there had been some loose leaf tea included to match and use with it.
  • A Sarah J. Maas necklace by Oh Panda Eyes (you can see how big a fan I am just by how I wrote this description, woops. Thankfully I have a friend who loves her so she will be happy with the necklace). I don’t mind necklaces but I admit I prefer non text charms and if they are fandom related something more classic.
  • The FairyLoot postcard and the matching bookmark (I am still curious to see what the plan is for the collection of bookmarks).
  • A Blackwing temporary tattoo (I have so many left from YALC, so repeat but still okay, it’s extra stuff).
  • A sleep mask that says “Fictional Worlds fuel my dreams”. Fun item to have in a book box but I don’t really use sleep mask except to stop people from peeking when I do a piñata party and I have a fox mask and a cat mask to make for fun pictures of them trying to hit the piñata. This is too “conservative” for that, even if it is cute.

So, this wasn’t my favourite box but somehow August hasn’t been the best box month in general it seems. Still, book, candle, notebook and bookmarks made me happy.

On a wonderful note, FairyLoot for October will include two books and one is an exclusive cover edition. Sounds very exciting. (The interesting part is I am amost 100% sure I have an ARC for the book included for this box).

 

 

 

Save

Art

Meet the Character Series

Hi and welcome to a new series in my blog, Meet the Character.

As you may (or not) know, I am not only a reader, but I am also a creator and artist (and engineer but that one has not much to do here). And I have several characters that pop up in my drawings relatively frequently (some do more than others). If you follow me on Instagram you may already be familiar with some of them.

The idea behind this series is to give you a little of their story, and to let you know more about them.

This means that each Meet the Character post will include several of my sketches and illustrations that portray that particular character. There will also be some trivia information. For example, my character Moire (a Fasquee) was developed during my time at uni and has gone through several redesigns to get to her current name and design.

There may also be a palette included, and the inspiration behind the character. Maybe there will also be an explanation as to the particular times that character gets drawn or what usually prompts me to choose that particular character for a sketch. (Some characters I only draw when I am feeling in a certain way, some are my go to character to draw when I want to sketch, like Knit or Vixy/MoonKestrel logo fox).

To make this post a little less empty, I can make a short introduction to a “character”, my logo.

Meet the Character: The Flying Bean + Little Fox/Vixy

My first official watermark/logo was The Flying Bean. This started as a joke with a friend, where I was arguing that you could add wings to anything and make it look interesting/cool. You can guess what item they suggested… a bean. So I added some wings and flourishes and it became my logo.

ArtWatermark

Fun Fact: During the time this was my watermark, by coincidence I would place it on the character’s shoulder and it looked like a tattoo. To commemorate this, I have it as a tattoo on my shoulder.

I never really planned to change The Flying Bean, but one of my doodling sessions I doodled a sleeping fox and really liked it so I kept refining it until I reached the current logo I use a lot here (it is the one I use for my rating system and my banner).

Being associated with a fox is not new, and we would all draw me as a fox in any caricature we did during school (the earliest drawn record I have of me as a “fox” is from 2005-2006). During my time in uni I would draw short caricatures of friends and me and I started drawing Little Fox (that’s what it was called at the time).

d20dcf2fb7fa5ef43de3859b1a803d1f

Little Fox evolved to become Vixy (short of Vixen) and appear all over my sketchbooks as a quick way of materialising my feelings or ordering the chaos in my head.

20160908_115420_001.jpg

Then the logo came to life and somehow I knew it was me, and it was the perfect fit. The logo is a curled up sleeping fox that fits the concept of “Full Moon, Crescent Moon”, has a Vixy/Little Fox and my handle “Moon Kestrel”.

I turned it into a logo when I decided to take the plunge and buy an embosser by Ladd Designs (I have not regretted this at all, the embosser is a magical tool, perfect for books, stickers and any other idea that comes to mind). The original logo was all in Black, and there was a lot of changing the thickness of the lines and figuring the right way to make the design work well with the embosser. I now use it in a tone of orange or a light grey.

MoonKestrel Logo2 - Orange

So there you have it, an introductory Meet the Character.  Hope you enjoyed it.

The next installment will introduce you to the Wig Bag Trio.

Disclaimer: All of the artwork belongs to me and has been created by myself unless otherwise stated. Ladd Designs have not paid me to promote them and I do not benefit from this in any way (unless you’d like me to design your logo for your embosser/stamp/wax seal).

Books, Subscription Boxes

August Fantasy Leafer Box

After receiving the Sci-fi LeaferBox, I couldn’t resist but decide to also get the Fantasy one (when I decided to try it, I struggled to decide between the two of them) and once again I wasn’t disappointed.

I should add a note here saying that there was no having to wait to subscribe or buy it or anything, as long as you are still purchasing it during the month you want, you will get that month’s box, so I was able to get both and try one first without issue.

Apparently the only boxes that get a theme (for now) are the Fantasy and Historical boxes, so the theme for this box was Mermaids.

20170825_191330

The box was definitely true to the theme, even in the chocolate included, so without further ado, let’s start from the chocolate and go clockwise on the content.

  • A delicious Ritter Sport chocolate, in Coconut flavour because of course coconuts remind you of beaches and seas and summer and water and it just goes to match with Mermaids. (I did a massive boo boo with the chocolate and left it in the conservatory at midday so it was melted when I came back in the evening and wanted to have it).
  • A temporary tattoo of starfish and seashells and other water/sea bits.
  • A bronze mermaid bookmark which makes me think of those figures at the front of the ships, carved to “protect” it.
  • A necklace with a mermaid tail look and a tiny mermaid charm too (I keep swooning over these simple charms, though the galaxy one still wins over this one).
  • A mermaid pencil (that is hard to show just how full of mermaids it is).
  • And the book which is The Forbidden Sea by Sheila A. Nielson.

Now I hadn’t heard about this book before but hey it is about mermaids and the cover is purple and quite gorgeous so I am all up for reading it and giving it a go.

All in all the box was once again good value and easy to get. So I am still recommending it to anyone that feels like trying it and doesn’t want to dish £25+ for a book subscription box with goodies. You can check them out on their Etsy page if you’d like.

Books, Subscription Boxes

Fearless Females Book Box Club

August’s Book Box Club box was themed Fearless Females and completes the first 12 boxes from them (this being the 12th). At first I was slightly concerned this may be Warbringer since I didn’t want a repeat, but thankfully it wasn’t, and I am happy about it.

As per usual the box was packed full of goodies (and thankfully none of the bonus extras was something I already had from YALC! Bonus points there to no repeats).

20170822_193916

Starting from the theme card and going in a clockwise fashion we had:

  • Cute promotional pins of a Vespa and a film (silver screen vibes for me) to promote Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennet.
  • The actual book, Things a Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nicholls, which I’m buddy reading this time. It is set in the suffragette time and sounds interesting but my history crazy person is going haywire saying “please, please, don’t mess this up, it can be so good”. We shall see, await a review soon.
  • The Clubhouse do not open until the end scroll which includes the time and date for the next meeting and an interview with the author.
  • A jungle like (or at least it gives me that feeling) cute notebook by Nikki Strange. As a random fact, the first box they made also included a notebook by her too.
  • Exclusive Sarah J. Maas magnet which is currently on my fridge (alongside a few other bookish magnets and some pots and pans on hooks but that is another story).
  • A “Fight like a Girl” coaster (it is extremely pink which is a bit not me but it is still kinda cool) by Munky Make.
  • A Crooked Kingdom inspired necklaceby Compton Four, I like the green charm a lot but I have yet to read Crooked Kingdom so I have to take their for it.
  • A postcard promoting the book. (I like the vintage vibes)
  • A delicious smelling Hermione candle by Meraki Candles. There’s no going wrong by having a candle made by Heather. Probably my favourite item of the box.
  • A ‘Fight like a girl’ sticker which I am considering adding to my drawing clipboard somehow.

I have to say it wasn’t my favourite box from the girls, but I also understand they had holidays and YALC getting in the way of this box so it’s okay with me.

I am super hyped about the next box which is the anniversary box with the theme fo OUTLAWS. I wonder what is inside…

If you would like to join our bookish community and discuss the books we read with the author in the Clubhouse, you can use code MOON17 for 5% off your subscription. If you just want goods, you can choose the PURELY BOOKS option. Up to you.

Disclaimer: There is an Amazon Associates link, but if you choose to use them and buy from them, know that you’re just helping me buy more books and feed my reading needs.

 

Books

After The Fire Review

I have been saying that After The Fire is my best read of 2017 but I haven’t actually reviewed it here, so I say it is long overdue and here it is!

20170804_165958

After the Fire by Will Hill

The things I’ve seen are burned into me, like scars that refuse to fade.

Father John controls everything inside The Fence. And Father John likes rules. Especially about never talking to Outsiders. Because Father John knows the truth. He knows what is right, and what is wrong. He knows what is coming.

Moonbeam is starting to doubt, though. She’s starting to see the lies behind Father John’s words. She wants him to be found out.

What if the only way out of the darkness is to light a fire?

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20pxMoonKestrel Logo2 20pxMoonKestrel Logo2 20pxMoonKestrel Logo2 20pxMoonKestrel Logo2 20px

This book was recommended (and gifted) to me by the lovely Kate and Libby from Book Box Club who also loved it and thought it was ideal for me. One of the many reasons is that the main character is called Moonbeam, which made them think of me (because I am Moon, just in case).  So much they wanted me to read it that it was my birthday gift, and what a gift it was!

The story starts with the last moments that Moonbeam spends inside The Fence while a terrible fire is wreaking even more havoc around her. Then the story starts when she actually wakes up in the hospital and realises she is in the hands of the very people she was warned never to talk to, never to disclose all the secrets from inside The Fence to. Poor Moonbeam, can’t blame her for feeling confused and conflicted inside.

But deciding what she should share with the strangers that are giving her sessions and keeping her “locked” in a room isn’t the only thing that is eating her up inside. She is also trying to puzzle out what happened in those last moments once the raid started and then with the fire.

The narrative is amazing at taking you into Moonbeam’s mind and helping you understand why she is thinking what she is thinking. She has been brought up inside the Fence most of her life and after her mother leaves, she is fending for herself inside, unsure if this is the best or not.

The story progresses in jumps since we are being told what Moonbeam sees fit to share with the psychologist and the detective. Of course, at first she isn’t willing to share much, they are the evil and the voice in her head resonates with Father John’s voice blaming her and giving her free guilt trips. [I know all too well how this feels, because more than two years after leaving an abusive relationship I still battle with that voice at times, every day a little less, but it is a nagging persistent pesky thing]. But slowly she makes the so-called progress she is being told about and starts telling more and more and she talks about it, more comes to the surface.

And without spoilers I just have to say that the last few chapters were the right note to end the story and I did not expect a few of the twists about the ending but it was good to find them happen. Once I closed the book I felt okay, pleased with how it had ended despite all that Moonbeam had had to go through.

You’re seriously in for a ride with this one. It is not a soft and fluffy romantic read, but it is a gripping ‘can’t put the book down’ read and I was utterly blown away by it.

From what I have learned (and after meeting the author, who was amazing and signed my copy and remembered me after I kept coming back to chat to him) this was inspired by the Waco Siege in Texas in 1993. I only learned this afterwards, and have now done some research into that. I admit that it is a good inspiration but love Will’s story on its own and to me they are two different events and cults.

Moon recommends

Go read it now. You needs this on the top of your TBR or straight into your hands. But if you’d like interesting gripping reads I can recommend Lies like Love by Louisa Reid, which is about a mother daughter relationship but it is also about manipulation, control, depression and mental illness. Or you can try This Is All: The Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn by Aidan Chambers, which is another gripping read, written in six ‘books’ of Cordelia’s adolescent life, by turns funny, poignant, sad, exciting, fascinating ironic and truthful about topics that parents often do not tell their children.

If you’d like to buy the book, you can find it here or you can check out my GoodReads review.

Disclaimer: There is an Amazon Associates link, but if you choose to use them and buy from them, know that you’re just helping me buy more books and feed my reading needs. Book synopsis is from Good Reads.

 

 

Books, Subscription Boxes

Illumicrate #8 Unboxing

Illumicrate is a quarterly book subscription box that despite saying it only includes one book usually includes two. My first box was in August last year and I really like receiving it. (I admit I have had issues with delivery but Daphne has always been quick to reply, and apparently Hermes has stopped being nasty with deliveries since this box made it on the first attempt and there were no issues).

Of course, this box was no exception in being packed full of goodies (and I guessed the book correctly, I felt so proud!)

20170822_192414.jpg

Starting from the top left corner and going clockwise, contents were:

  • Cute notebook with a Percy Jackson quote
  • Wonder Woman Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo with delightful tinted edges that I adored (and this is the book I guessed)
  • A cute savings glass jar that says “Book Jar” by Blossom Books.
  • An ARC/proof of Nyxia (it sounds like a mix between Hunger Games, Enders Game and The Maze Runner, and according to the author it’s all about depicting compasion).
  • Several publisher bookmarks.
  • Blossom Books cute book note/tags which make me want to use them all on my books as I read (even if I don’t have the having of annotating books)
  • Moxie pins
  • Warbringer square pin/badge
  • Pouch with Shakespeare quote.
  • Quote aout happiness and books that came inside the Book Jar
  • Promotional postcard
  • T-ology The Red Church tea which may or may not contain the blood of your enemies.
  • Coaster that feed my engineering and artist side with feels for some reason and I love it.

At first I wasn’t sure what to think of the contents but somehow they have all made me squeal a little as I write about them. The pouch is holding some picture props like ribbons and other bits and bobs, and the Book Jar is now a challenge my boyfriend gave me.

We’re trying to fill it with coppers (1p or 2p) and see if once full it is enough to buy a book (at retail price). It was such a fun challenge that we ended up turning the house upside down just to find all the pennies we could and somehow managed to do half full jar. Crazy, right?

20170823_073807

So as you can see this Illumicrate was a success once again (it even managed to get my boyfriend involved in the goodies), so check them out if you’d like to buy a subscription.

 

Save

Books, Subscription Boxes

Sci-fi August Leafer Box

If you remember my long post about subscription boxes, I mentioned LeaferBox.

This is a UK based box that sells through Etsy rather than Cratejoy or their own site. It is also not Young Adult exclusive, instead you get a choice of genres of books to pick from.

Having had a quick conversation with them, currently the only boxes that have a monthly theme are the Historical and Fantasy ones since they are the ones that sell more, but they are not the only ones they sell.

You can choose between Historical, Sci-fi, Fantasy, Chick-Lit, Comedy, Thriller or Surprise (for when you’re not sure which one you want and any will do, or you just like surprise). In each category you can either buy a single box (it does not renew automatically), 3 months or 6 months. Neither option renews itself so once it is done you can decide which one you want next if you do.

Any way, I was divided between trying the Sci-fi one and the Fantasy one, but decided to go for one I didn’t know the theme (Fantasy this month is Mermaids). The wonderful thing is that you can buy the month’s box any day of that given month (which is great because the cut off date is just the end of the month).

So without more rambling from my part, here are the contents of the box.

20170821_193104.jpg

Most of the lovely extras were beautifully wrapped in a leafy tissue paper (I thought it was such a sweet little extra thing) and the book was not wrapped (I don’t mind).

The box included some fruit tea called Grandma’s Garden, a cute tea bag shaped infuser (I already have found my most favourite infuser so probably won’t use this one, but that does not take away the cuteness factor and that they thought about how to help you deal with loose leaf tea). There was also a timey whimey Tardis official merchandise Doctor Who bookmarks (isn’t it lovely?). A delicious Ritter Sport (last night I told my boyfriend that I had to take pictures of this box there and then because I couldn’t resist wanting to eat the chocolate and could not wait any longer, so I did -this was the actual day I received the box-). And an absolutely stunning gorgeous galaxy pendant necklace that has made me swoon so much.

Finally, the book included was HellHole which I probably wouldn’t have chosen on my own but it sounds interesting and will definitely be read.

20170821_193116
Look at that wonderful galaxy pendant, isn’t it gorgeous?

All in all I was pleasantly surprised with the box. So much so that I ended up having a quick conversation on Instagram with them and bought the Fantasy box because Mermaids, right?

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20pxMoonKestrel Logo2 20pxMoonKestrel Logo2 20pxMoonKestrel Logo2 20px

This box reminds me a lot of the simplicity of Novel Tea Club (which closed at the beginning of the year) and I am loving it very much. It is also more affordable at £12.99 + shipping than most book subscription boxes, so that’s a plus.

Have you tried LeaferBox? Would you consider it? Let me know your thoughts.

 

Art

Moon Draws: Bookish Reflection

Let’s talk art again and in this case, also books, because today I’ll cover how the illustration on the pocket mirror for Book Box Club came to be.

IMG_20170811_074811_024

It all started with a quick description of what they’d like for me to do. The girls explained it was meant to be a pocket mirror and that they wanted a girl/woman reading in a romantic setting with lots of nature and to fit the theme of the box, Spells and Remedies.

There was no hint as to the actual book included.

The description was easy and quite open so I went and did some research in all my reference books and my own knowledge about what I could consider fitting for the theme. I knew I had to include some chamomile, maybe some dandelion and oak and a few other plants because of their healing and also I knew they were used in hedge witchcraft. This led to a search through tumblr and google (and my own books at home) for more on herbs and their uses, and which plants are used in spells most frequently.
After that, I sat down on the couch (there are two ‘desks’ I can use for drawing but I end up doing most of my sketches sitting on the couch, it means company both from bf and puppy) and sketched several options of poses thinking of how they’d fit the pocket mirror and theme.

Which one do you like best?

The girls got back to me on which one they liked most and what they’d like to change, so I took that into account and did a cleaner drawing (all of this done on paper with a mechanical pencil, my favourite drawing tool).

20170614_202144

I had intended to be fancy and lightbox my sketch then scan it, but because I had made the original drawing quite detailed on thick paper, it was very fiddly and the results wasn’t as good as I had hoped for. So smart me scanned both (pencil and ink) and opened both to decide which one would be better. Pencil sketch won and it soon started taking shape in Clip Studio Paint (I use several art programs depending on the effects I want to achieve, CSP is my prefered one for inking a scanned sketch).

Book Box Club - Spells and Remedies WBG
Lots of little details, including my signature as the book cover

The original plan was that the girls would then colour it however they saw fit and that was it, but when they returned their version of it, I wanted to try to colour it myself (I hadn’t realised I already had a coloured version inside my head). So I spent my Friday evening well past midnight colouring in extreme detail the drawing, despite knowing that it wouldn’t show well on the pocket mirror. For example, her eyes are light grey/blue with golden specks and the tree trunk has relief on the bark and the grass also has a lovely effect same as most of the individual leaves drawn that have a gradual colouring or shading effect.

Book Box Club - Spells and Remedies Coloured
Ample non detailed background to account for wrap around and bleed

Still, I completed the colouring and sent it away for the girls to approve, which they did of course. They also kindly informed me that I had done a lot of detail that wouldn’t show on the finished mirror, but I did not care, because I knew that if I had sent anything less I wouldn’t have been happy with myself and would’ve felt as if I had done a bad illustration for a customer.

After that it was just a matter of keeping the secret about the design (which I wanted to share) and waiting for the boxes to start arriving before I could disclose details about it.

If you liked this process of an artwork, there may be more to come, since I am currently working on designing 13 ‘colouring’ bookmarks to celebrate the anniversary of Book Box Club this September. Details on how to get your hands on them are still to come, but if you’re interested let me know.

Books

The Disappearances Review

20170821_192916(0)

The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy

Every seven years something goes missing in the remote town of Sterling: people’s reflections, the stars in the sky, the ability to dream. Aila realises that her mother may be to blame for the curse. But some mysteries are buried very deep and some secrets want to stay hidden – and one young woman’s desire to uncover the truth may not be enough to save Sterling from the past.

A beautifully told story of love, loss and finding the truth – no matter how difficult that might be.

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20pxMoonKestrel Logo2 20pxMoonKestrel Logo2 20pxMoonKestrel Logo2 20pxMoonKestrel Logo2 20px Grey

Warning, this review contains spoilers. Read at your discretion.

This was a slow start kind of book. The story starts in Gardner, where Aila and Miles have been living their whole life, and it starts at the moment they are meant to leave for Sterling (the place where the Disappearances happen).

From the beginning the prose is rich and delightful and as much as the story was moving slowly at first, there were several moments when I just wanted to grab a pencil and underline or copy some of the phrases.

Thankfully, once we arrive to Sterling and get past the introductory days and being introduced to most characters, things pick up.

I have to say that the thing that stuck with me the most was how much Emily (the author) must love Shakespeare’s works. The amount of details, and the use of them through the book was impressive and left me admiring her skills. Retellings of Shakespeare’s works are relatively common, but The Disappearances does a magic act here and instead of retelling them, weaves them into the story so they are in a way the story but never a retelling nor do you feel like you’re just reading Shakespeare with fillers around it.

I loved the Variants, cringed a little on the idea of the Virtues and what Stefen kept thinking in his head (and totally wasn’t expecting the fact that he was atually related to Juliet), as soon as Tempest was introduced I wanted to try it, though I think it’d be too chicken to do it in such a public way as Aila did. I really liked the way the relationships develop and how they have found ways around issues and found hilarious the last “disappearance” (not that it was great or good to have that disappear but rather on what it implied and the consequences of it). There was some fun in it and that was enjoyable despite the direness of it all.

I don’t think I’ll ever understand what made Stefen change his mind and hint them on how to break the curse, but I am glad he did despite the way his own story ended. All in all, it was a good read, despite the slow start, and beautifully written.

Moon recommends

This is not my usual kind of book but in a similar line there is Spellbook of the Lost and Found if you want something to go alongside.

If you’d like to buy it here, or if you’d like to read my shorter GoodReads review.

 

Disclaimer: There is an Amazon Associates link, but if you choose to use them and buy from them, know that you’re just helping me buy more books and feed my reading needs. Book synopsis is from Good Reads.

 

Art

On being an artist I

I will move away from books today and talk about art. As you may know now, I am not only crazy about books but I also draw and have even done a design for Book Box Club.

And it has only been recently that I realised how much I actually enjoy doing this and creating artwork for projects I am passionate about.

I am not going to go on a long post about how you should pursue your dreams or how to do art, there are so many guides, posts and tutorials on this topics I would only be repeating what has already been said.

Instead I want to talk about something that marked me deeply and which I am still carrying around with me to a degree.

I have been drawing since I was a child but only started doing it more seriously when I started writing stories. I needed to illustrate what was going on in my head and some things, words didn’t do them justice. They were not the prettiest drawings ever, at all. But they made me happy and thankfully my family knew it was the best I could do at the time so they appreciated them.

untitled_by_mitsukitinky-d7l0yc3
From around 2000-2003 when I started writing and illustrating my stories

Then the internet happened and I discovered Deviantart and e-shuushuu. I was mesmerised and realised that maybe, maybe I could be considered an artist because I drew a lot and was conveying ideas on paper and maybe this was for me.

And this way the funny stories, the weird ideas my friends and I exchanged, our own world started to be translated into short stories and drawings. Sketches I would lovingly draw with my mechanical pencil and then ink out with a Sharpie marker (because 10+ years ago I didn’t know any better). And they made my day. I was also very proud of my ability to reproduce at scale scenes from manga and comics and I even challenged myself to colour these scenes without using any black lines and blending colours together.

It was all well, and then I shared them on Deviantart, on the internet, and that is when it all went wrong. You see, I was improving, admiring others (I never copied, traced or stole from others), attempting to understand their styles by trying to replicate it (not because I was trying to be them but rather to understand why they would draw things a particular way, this is called finding your influences), and I was slowly settling into my own style and my own ways, slowly improving (all self-taught, without any guidance).

But the Internet is vicious and people started assuming I had just copied and then scanned and edited to make it appear as if I had drawn it (though errors were blatantly obvious) and calling me out because I didn’t know how to draw and fan art was not allowed and I should not draw fan art of manga and my favourite cartoons.

Then came the critiques on my line work.

I sketch on small/short feathered strokes, partly because I have issues with my wrists (I struggle to open bottles, the twist required is difficult for me, and don’t even talk to me about child proof caps/taps, those are the devil’s inventions and a child would have more success than I do) and partly because I like the soft feathered effect it creates. And in the last 3-5 years it has been admired and I have received compliments on how it looks soft and fragile and delicate.

IMG_20160627_153114
Perfect example of my feathered sketches. Moire, one of my oldest characters, she’s a Fox Fasquee.

But before the praise came, the critique came. Someone told me the feathered strokes meant I was never going to be a good artist. That the only way to be an artist was to make perfect long lines full of “flow”. I was told I was good for nothing and that my art would never be good. I would never make it and unless I completely changed my style and all I knew about drawing, I had no hope at all.

I can’t even remember who was cruel enough to tell me I was bad at art, but I am sure that they are not artists anymore or that they plateaued and haven’t moved from the same style they had 10 years ago.

Still, the bad critiques, the poisonous comments, the accusations of not being a legitimate artist, all left their mark on me.

Yesterday I was completing some sketches for bookmark designs and showing them to a friend, and I kept saying “oh this doesn’t look as nice but it’ll better when I clean it up” or “It’s missing this but I’ll add it in when I transfer it to my laptop”, apologising for each sketch I sent because it wasn’t perfect, because it was a sketch.

Thankfully, I am blessed with good friends and she told me I shouldn’t apologise about it, that it was amazing artwork and just a sketch, not the finished version. It was then that it dawned on me that I was apologising for things I shouldn’t. These were only rough sketches (and for sketches, looking at them objectively, they are extremely detailed, see below), but here I was thinking I should apologise because it wasn’t perfect.

20170816_133454
I even bothered to learn how to make a dream catcher so I could draw it right (talk about going into details)

Let me tell you something, I have a full-time job and several other responsibilities in my life. I didn’t major in arts, instead I have an engineering degree and a lot of experience behind my back and yet I am also an artist and pursue this branch of creativity. And considering the amount of time I can give to this and that I am doing it as a side gig rather than my main job, it’s something I should be proud of. I am able to design pieces for book subscription boxes and other independent businesses while at the same time keeping a full time job and all my other responsibilities and paying my bills.

So to close this post, if you are an artist, a writer, or looking for who you are, don’t be discouraged. It takes time to learn and to become good, and yes there are good things to learn, but we learn by following what others have done (or not at times) so build yourself up. Find artists that can point out your mistakes but gently help you fix them rather than make you feel like you are doomed.

And please, do not doom anyone. We are all learning in this journey. Rather than putting them down, help them build themselves up.