Witness the Small Life – The Mini Apple

This week’s page is dedicated to be a glimpse into my life while being home in the greatest city in the world: Minneapolis! I’ve been catching up on all my favorite things to do that I haven’t been able to in Ann Arbor (sit at the lake, drive a car, relax, etc.) and it’s been a splendid week indeed.

As the first person of my friends home for the summer, I’ve spent much time basking in the freedom of being alone. My relationship with being alone has changed so much this past year and it’s been very evident in how I’ve been spending my past week. In my senior year of high school, my greatest fear was being alone at any given time. I worried that because I’d be moving by the end of that summer and losing proximity to my friends and family that I would then end up being alone forever. However, throughout my time during this first year of college I’ve had to confront that fear head on every day in an unfamiliar place surrounded by strangers. It was extremely hard at first and I’m still adjusting to these new changes in my life, but after a while I felt more and more at peace with myself. I started to learn how to take care of myself outside the pressures of my surrounding social circles. I no longer had to worry about driving my sisters to school or rearranging my work schedule so I could make it to the next hangout with friends. During my day all I had to do was decide on where I was going to study today or if I wanted to go explore a random event posted on a flyer. This past week I’ve been able to apply this college-sparked freewill in my adventures of the city streets and it’s been allowing me to appreciate my home in new lights. From vibrant inspiration for my next art pieces to a new loving familiarity for the communities I grew up in, I feel like I’m entering a new journey of understanding what home is in a place where I feel safe and loved. Although I am surely going to fill this summer to the brim with bonfires with friends and excursions with my sisters, I’m planning on making sure that I get my alone time with myself and my city in order to appreciate both in new and beautiful ways.

To take into our summer:

Ins: Reconnecting with old friends, supporting your local art scene (always), horror podcasts, going to events even if you’re going alone, drawing on your hands, Costco, re-appreciating your old art, quality time with loved ones.

Outs: Not wearing sunscreen, only believing in the worst outcomes, flat soda, letting dust pile up, immaturity, bugs on the windshield, drivers in Minneapolis, not speaking your truth, the ending of Grey’s Anatomy season 5.

Have a beautiful, fantastic summer everyone! Thank you so much for a great semester and for reading (and hopefully enjoying) these entries. Trust that I’ll be back in the fall for our regularly scheduled shenanigans of loving life and each other. Be safe, have fun, and remember to witness the small life!

Industrious Illustrating #63 – Looking to Summer

Hello everyone! I ended up not updating for two weeks because of final projects and exams eating up all my energy and time when I wasn’t making new art. But I’m back with one more post before the end of the school year!

Speaking of which, one of my class projects this past semester was illustrating new educational materials for the UMich Natural History Museum. I ended up designing a new step-by-step infographic for using their slides and microscopes. Here’s a sample of what one of my microscope illustrations looked like:

The other artwork I’ve been making recently has mostly been fanwork and commission work since that’s what people pay me to make (and I also enjoy making). I do want to work on more original design work, especially after getting my portfolio reviewed by a mentor and realizing that my design work has a long way to go if I ever want to get work in the double or triple-A video game industries, but I’ll likely have to do that later in the summer after I’m done with my internship. In the meantime, I’ll be selling at several fan conventions this summer — Anime Park this weekend, then Motor City Comic Con (the Spring show) and Colossalcon’s Otaku Craft Fair later this month, and the Otaku Detroit Summer Bash as well as Tekko in mid July!

I’m still not totally certain, but I’m leaning toward not continuing this blog next year. I’ve taken on a lot of responsibilities (especially in the last year) that I have to juggle on top of an increasingly demanding upperclassman schedule. While maintaining this column has been nice for tracking my progress as an artist over the years, sharing it with the wider world, and getting a small amount of compensation for my time, I’ve finally gotten enough traction with getting into conventions and cultivating a dedicated customer base that I’d rather focus more on my art and chronicle my development in less time-consuming ways. But I’ll at least for sure continue to be Digipaint’s event planning admin next year, and I’ll also continue to work on myself as an artist and small business owner. It’s surreal that I’m only a year away from graduating college now, but there’s no way that I could’ve stayed in undergrad forever.

Anyway, I’ll go back to resting and recuperating from all the hard work I’ve done so far this year, and I’ll either see you guys again in the fall or if we ever chat at an in-person event! (Or, a third option, if you figure out what my art social media accounts are and follow my art journey there…) Have a great summer!

Witness the Small Life – Long Journey Home

I’M FREE!!! Classes done, critiques finished, dorm packed! Boy, what a semester it has been. A true rollercoaster of epic proportion with all the excitement a girl can handle on a day to day basis.

Firstly, I need to address my mistakes! My burnout brain was apparently so fried that I actually wrote the wrong date for last week’s post! I truly didn’t know what day it was (the prophecies fulfill themselves). Additionally, apologies for the late post! Between getting ready for moving out, actually moving out, and driving 11+ hours, there was a minuscule amount of time to get anything else done. Regardless, we are here! In my chaos of packing up my life into my blue storage bags, there’s been so much happening. From temporary goodbyes to friends to the difficult task of deciding whether or not to keep my various knickknacks or pass them off to others, I’ve been reminded of the multitude of ways we connect ourselves to the world. People, places, things, and memories all make up the different facets of what makes home home. Throughout my journey of intense homesickness and deep fear of change this past year, my relationship to each of these things in my life has shifted and transformed in ways that have been both gratifying and heart-breaking. There’s a duality to growing up and so much of that comes with how our relationship to home metamorphosizes. I feel like there’s never truly an end to this journey of change and that fact scares me while at the same time sparks a flame of excitement in my soul. Although we as people change throughout our lives and the spaces we inhabit will do the same, it helps to remember that there will always be love and support through the challenges of it all, even if it doesn’t feel like it. I find that as people we want to see the best for others, even if they’re just strangers, because we want to see and believe in the compassion and beauty of the world. People change and homes get moved but the existence of love always stays the same.

To take into our next week:

Ins: Limes, the smell of bug spray, remembering to take breaks instead of just giving up, being the early bird that gets the worm, biking, daydreaming on roadtrips.

Outs: Hoarding to the extreme, letting the paranoia get to you, forgetting to patch up holes, taking on more than you can handle, caramel in coffee, not putting recycling in the recycling, cheap perfume.

This is my second to last post for the semester! To everyone wrapping up their semesters, planning their summers, and taking a second to breathe you all are amazing! Remember that even though life throws a bajillion crazy things our way, we will always be there for each other.

Witness the Small Life – Hydration Station

To burn out or not to burn out, that is the struggle! I feel like I’ve been straddling the line between hyper-extreme productivity and rotting-in-bed exhaustion for far too long and this battle has only continued its siege on my life! From forgetting the days of the week to leaving behind entire artworks in classrooms, my life has been a mess of unrelenting chaos.

In addition to the constant threat of my near-death, there’s been too many a small things piling up this week for me, both good and bad. Little chores and errands I have to run that I constantly forget about and decide to do all at once which, of course, forces me to dedicate an entire day to finish them all. Fleeting moments of catching people’s exciting conversations as I walk past them on State Street and feeling happy to have been able to share in their musings for just a second. Although these small things do in fact add to my increasing stress and awareness about everything around me, they also help to remind myself that it’s okay to just exist one second at a time. It’s a cheesy thing to say, as most everything is, but it truly is so important to live in the moment when you can. When we move so fast and the world needs you to do everything everywhere all at once, it can become so impossible to take care of yourself. By allowing yourself to just focus on the small necessities in your life, like needing mend a tear in your pants or needing to take out the trash, it helps so much in the long run of managing your stress. It’s a difficult thing to remind myself of this fact even though I preach it so much, but I do stand by its importance in living a good life.

To take into our next week:

Ins: A robust sticker collection, student film festivals, taking things one step at a time, mosh pits (always), outdoor music, the first 8 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy, mixed metal jewelry, being able to let go.

Outs: Doomscrolling too early in the morning, cold feet (literally and idiomatically), playing stupid games and winning stupid prizes, not scheduling in time to eat, worrying too much about a future too far away, sleeping with wet hair.

I keep saying that we’re in the homestretch, but this time it’s really true! Many of us (including myself) will be finishing up finals and heading back home for the summer in these next few weeks so here’s to us and all of our hard work! May we all have a happy and healthy end of the semester (and don’t burn out too much!)

Industrious Illustrating #62 – Coming to an End

I almost can’t believe that the school year is almost over already — I feel like the spring of 2023 happened only a couple of months ago! Currently I’m trying to finish a bevy of final assignments on time this week before they’re due, which includes both UX-related coursework and client work. I wonder how it’d feel to balance a full-time job workload on top of making my own artwork for both personal and business purposes… (Also, this is why the column is a couple of days late this week)

What I was definitely able to make time for this past week, however, was driving down to Toledo to see the total solar eclipse. I don’t regret this one bit, as I’ll remember forever throwing off my eclipse glasses when I saw the sliver of sun disappear and seeing a giant void of darkness with a glowing rim of white light looming in the dark sky above me. No wonder why so much mythology and artwork has been inspired by the sight of a total eclipse!

I didn’t get any really good eclipse photos because my phone camera is older and I didn’t think of borrowing a nicer camera from LSA or Stamps’s equipment offices, so this is the best one I have

I also did Con Ja Nai last weekend and made a fairly decent amount of money — several times more than what I’ve historically made at CJN before my art business really started taking off this year. I think the addition of mecha keychains has boosted my con revenue from average to quite good, as they satisfy an under-served niche for small mecha merch. It goes to show that sometimes you don’t know what’ll work best for you and your business until you experiment and eventually hit it off with your customer base.

My setup from last weekend — I definitely feel like I need to simplify this down though, as it’s a huge headache to set up just for a single day of selling even with two people working on it

Also, filing taxes by yourself as a self-employed small business owner is a huge headache — I’m likely going to reach out to a small business CPA (accountant) for next year’s tax season since my taxes are going to only get more complicated now that I do out-of-state events. The difficulty of keeping track of sales, income, and estimated taxes is something that I don’t think enough people warn you about before you try to run an art business.

Anyway, I think there’ll only be one or two more Industrious Illustrating columns this school year before I go on summer break and focus my energy on other things. I’m not sure yet whether or not I’ll bring back this column next school year, as my art business has now taken off a lot this year and my coursework is also becoming increasingly demanding closer to graduation. However, I’m tempted to keep this running until the end of undergrad because it’d be a really nice log of my growth and development as an illustrator and product designer over the course of several years.
If you’d like to see this column come back next year, I’d love to hear from you ^^ And either way, I hope you’ll enjoy the nice weather outside in the upcoming weeks!

Industrious Illustrating #61 – Sakuracon 2024

Hello, and welcome back to another week of Industrious Illustrating! It’s been a few days since Sakuracon 2024 and I still feel really exhausted O(-( You can see my table setup below:

Overall Sakuracon was an expensive convention to attend, especially since I flew my usual helper to Seattle with me and paid for his expenses in addition to my own. However, I actually broke my previous earnings record (which I just made last month at Katsucon) and made a significant profit, so I’m very happy with the results! I had an amazing time meeting so many wonderful people at Sakuracon, ate so much good food, and I hope I can come back to the Pacific Northwest for more conventions either later this year or next year!

I ended up using Monday to visit the Seattle Aquarium and the International District/Chinatown before hopping on a late-night flight back to Michigan, as the prices for Easter weekend flights were more expensive than spending an extra night and day in Seattle. I picked up some limited-time collaboration merch from Animal Crossing and Honkai Impact 3rd while I was there, and I also took a bunch of reference pictures of marine life that will inspire future original pieces.

If any of you guys are interested, I’ll be selling leftovers from Sakuracon at Con Ja Nai, which is UMich’s very own annual one-day anime convention that happens in the Modern Languages Building from 12-7pm (Artist Alley closes at 6pm) on April 6th. Come say hi! 🙂

In other news, I’ve also been accepted into Anime Park (subsidized Canton IKEA trip!) on May 4th and I got off of the waitlist for Motor City Comic Con Spring (May 17-19), which I am still considering whether or not I want to accept since it overlaps with Anime Central and I’m still lowkey hoping that I can get off of the waitlist for Anime Central or grab a no-show table on the actual convention weekend. Either way, I’m looking forward to a summer of making new art, doing events, and (if it’s in the cards for me) summer classes/an internship!