... It's been a real journey, deviantArt. Sometimes I can't believe how long I've been around.
But now that I think back to it, I think it's worth every minute I put into this account.
I've known about deviantArt since the early days, maybe 2004, 2005. Back then I wasn't really interested because I never thought of myself as much of an artist. It wasn't until I met the creative mind behind this photo that things started to change.
We worked together in a student-run magazine; he was in an undergraduate degree which he didn't like and I was in a master's degree and in transition. Through a common friend, we met up. He's been an encouraging figure when it comes to my creativity. Some days he'd say that I was there for him at the right place at the right time. Some days I'd say the same about him. But to this day, we're still great friends. He's finally embarked on a career that he liked and living the life he wanted. I still feel like I'm in transition. We still don't see eye to eye when it comes to art, either; but we respect each other. And that's more than what one can say about being friends and colleagues.
That was 2006. It took me 2 more years to make up my mind. To this day, I still don't know why it took me that long to decide, or what really made me decide to sign up on that January morning in 2008. January 1st, 2008, to be specific. I suppose I was looking for a new start; I was looking to open a new chapter in my life. At the beginning it was tough, really - I have no gauge of who I was, where I stood or what I was supposed to do. I know I liked a lot of the things I saw on dA, but I have nary the foggiest on how to get there or if I would ever get there. It was then I met up with the creative mind behind this work:
It turned out that we both belonged to a fan-club of the gentleman depicted in this picture (a Japanese singer who goes by the stage name Kamijo.) I was really surprised to know that someone I've met somewhere else is also on dA - and someone who could produce professional artwork like this actually said to me "You're pretty good! It's nice to have another artist in the group." To say I was flattered beyond imagination would be an understatement. But it was with this kind of encouragement that I actually decided that I would stay on dA and try to carve out my own little (cyber-)hole in the proverbial wall. I am no longer a member of this specific fan club now and the singer had moved on from band to band, finally starting his solo career a few years back. It's amazing how much things have changed since then... but without a push in the right direction, I wouldn't have been there at all, either.
Some time in the first year of my deviantArt journey, I came across this fascinating thing:
I have no idea what kind of ingenious mind and steady hand had done something like this. In fact, at that time "papercutting" and "crafts" in general wasn't a big component on dA at all. But the mind behind this specific work had reminded me of something that I had learned as a child. Papercutting, or the art of creating a image from the black-and-white contrast in paper once again fascinated me. At that time, my life was starting to become complicated. My chosen profession was starting to come down on me in full force (or so I thought at the time) and I was looking for a way to release the built-up pressure in my life. Papercutting gave me that peace of mind. And thanks to the creative mind behind this work, I was able to pick it up and run with it again. And run with it I did. Papercutting had become one of the staples of my repertoire to the extent that two of my works have been featured as Daily Deviations in 2011 and 2012. From someone who was completely unsure of himself when he first signed up... I would call it a meteoric rise. And If you told me about it as if happened to someone else... I probably wouldn't believe it myself. I thought art was something that it took innate talent to excel... and I sure as heck wasn't born with it.
I think the most important part of the deviantArt journey is not about the fame (heck, even with two DD's... I'm by no means famous), or the art, even. I think the community makes up a huge part of the journey. Throughout my short stint of 6 years here, I've met up with a lot of wonderful people that I would otherwise have never met. They have helped me through the ups and downs of my life and they are always here, a log-in away. I think that's the most significant part of the journey so far. Some of the folks I have met up here are nothing short of inspiring and I was extremely lucky to be able to inspire others in my stead. I've met people with exceptional skills who are humble and helpful. I have also met with people who have decided to take others' work for their own (It was a learning experience. I will never say "Who in their right mind would take my work, anyhow?" anymore. It's happened twice.) I want to thank all the people who have allowed me into their lives and allowed me to help them go through their ups and downs, too. I like to think that even if we have never met face to face... we are still good friends.
To you, Old Bean: Thanks for letting me take you and those you care along the last 5 years I've known you. You have been one of my fondest friends and one of my most successful "patients". I can't imagine what your life would have been without me... but I know mine wouldn't have been the same without you.
To you, my adopted little sister: We've walked together for a long, long time. Thanks to you, my Chinese is still passable to this day. And thanks to you... I'm still learning how to be a better man as I live and say fonder things of the world I see. I hope we'll keep on walking down this journey together.
To you, my good friend: I wish you all the best. We've come a long way and you've been there even when you run into hard times yourself. i want to take this opportunity to wish you and your newly-wedded husband all the best in your future years together. You were right, the stars do shine brighter in the night with you.
To you, my partner-in-crime: Thanks for being there when you are. And thank you for asking all the (im-)pertinent questions to keep me on my toes. A lot of what I had done wouldn't have been there without you. And this is perhaps the best opportunity for me to say a profound thanks.
To you, my multi-talented friend: No matter what happens, you are still my friend. And I hope that after so many years of spending time together you'll believe me that I hope to see how the story ends. I hope it will be happily ever after for everybody... because that's what everybody deserves. You are all the bright lights in my long, dark nights.
I know that there are still so many more people I would like to shout out and feature, but look at me... I'm running out of things to say. Silly old me, when did I get so sentimental? I hope you won't mind that I can't individually feature you and dedicate to you. You're taxing an old man's brain here.
At the end, I just want to say that the journey is far from over. And as long as you are all here with me, you are all my friends, companions, mentors and compatriots. I'm not a special person by any means, but with your indulgence and your support, you have made me feel like I'm someone special here. I still don't understand how I made the decision to sign on deviantArt that evening in 2008, but I know that I have not made the wrong decision.
Take care, everyone.
And let's keep on walking down this journey together.
(No background skins - I want you to see the features for yourself.)