Reflection (Passion Project Weekly Update #14)

Hey readers! It’s been a really long semester with a lot of things going on, but it felt like it was going by so fast! I’d like to take this week’s final blog post update by answering some questions and reflecting upon what I’ve done this entire week!
How did you like participating in the Innovation Expo?
I enjoyed very much in participating in the 2017 Innovation Expo. The atmosphere was great, and the people who attended and came to my booth really supported my illustrations regardless of buying merchandise or not. I also had a couple of friends that appeared over the course of the day who helped me out not just by buying items, but also covering for me in my booth and help promote it outside of my station.

How did you come up with the idea to sell your own illustrations?
In the beginning, original merchandise was something that I did not even consider. This whole Innovation Expo was based upon my Passion Project that I started this semester. When I first decided to join Passionate Project, my plan was to create a series of comics detailing about school life in ISB. However, just a few days into the actual course, I decided that my parameters really constricted me in terms of creativity. I quickly switched towards just comics and illustrations in general, plotting to complete a compilation book by the end of the semester. Unfortunately, I realized that I could not finish this in time, and just dabbled around, until one day my mother surprised me with an orange t-shirt with my pumpkin fall design printed in the middle. I thought that this was especially cute, and thought that I could possibly make a career out of this. I teamed up with a good friend of mine named Jonathan, and together we designed a white t-shirt that deliberately spoofed off of Supreme with the term ‘Surprise’. I sold most of the few shirts that I printed out, and Ms. Lemley suggested that perhaps that this was the direction that I should go for. In conclusion, I used my last two months of the semester to draw shirt and hoodie designs to print and sell.
What was the outcome of the total PP? How many illustrations did you make? What was successful merchandise?
The whole project for me was a total rollercoaster. I changed the entire idea of my final product of the semester at least 3 times. Originally, I wanted to create a comic compilation filled with all of my illustrations, so I set a goal of 100 comics by the end of the semester. Unfortunately, at the time I didn’t realize that 100 comics was utterly impossible, so in the end I had around 50 comics/drawings, half of my initial goal. But that’s okay as my final goal was to sell original merchandise, and I’ve completed that by attended the Innovation Expo. So far, by including sales from the past couple weeks, the hoodies have been selling pretty well, and I haven’t even sold out all of my initial shirts yet.
What do you like about illustrating?
What I really like about illustrating is that you can literally dump anything in your mind onto the computer to see. I would say that it just helps with creativity and how it expands my boundaries of thinking, but it actually does more than that. Whenever I’m stressed, I like to hook up my tablet to my computer and release all of it onto the digital canvas. All of my emotions and stress are vented towards the screen, and it fuels my motivation to finish certain illustrations.

Where do you get your inspiration from? Who are you influenced by?
I started digital drawing on January 31st, 2017, but before that, I had a notebook that I carried around with me full of hand-drawn comics. I was inspired by the all the digital comics that I saw so often on my internet browsing sessions that I tried to do it myself. Artists like PigeonGazette, Randowis, JakeLikesOnions, Owlturd, and Joan Cornella really convinced me to get into comics. My initial thoughts were to establish my own art style. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to me, my first comics looked suspiciously similar to Cyanide and Happiness. Over times, I challenged myself to make big changes towards character design, eventually getting towards the style I have today. Shortly I established my latest style, I found this New Zealand based comic artist by the name of Li Chen. She draws her ‘Extraordinary Comics’ and has a similar style towards mine. I instantly fell in love with her art, and her single panel artworks are absolutely breathtaking. Oftentimes, I would try to shade my illustration like she would, but I’m still learning.
What feedback did you specifically seek/get from others?
Like I’ve stated before, I really enjoyed Li Chen, also known as ExoComics’s artworks. I enjoyed them so much that I really pushed myself and sent her an email attached with some of my best drawings, and ashed her on what I could improve. She replied back with a bunch of great tips like visual organization, but what she stated most was to practice and practice. Another tip I got was from a man who visited me during the Innovation Expo. He had a degree in Digital Design or something like that, and he explained to me that a good exercise for designing would be to practice multiple styles but still convey the same message.

Were you able to sell a lot of merchandise?
At first, business seemed to be pretty slow, and I honestly thought that this whole merchandise thing was a bad investment. However, after the Innovation Expo, my brand has been catching wind over the MS and HS student body, and I’ve been getting a lot of orders recently.

Why do you think it’s important to encourage innovation at school?

Without innovation, the mindset and creativity of ISB cannot progress. This is especially important for students as they’re an integral part towards the ISB community. Innovation would help students problem solve new and different solutions, both academic and physical, in and out of school.

Will you participate in the expo again?
Most definitely. I really do enjoy my Passion Project elective, and I believe that the Innovation Expo is a perfect opportunity to showcase my effort and products at the end of the first semester.

What do you want to do after high school?
This career and reputation that I’ve built this year so far is too big to just drop after graduation. As I’m still only a freshman, I still have 3 1/2 more years to go, and who knows where my skill-set and brand will be? I do believe that it’s still to early to decide what my career will be, but I can say for certain that digital drawing and design will be a personal hobby and side job for the rest of my life.
What did you struggle with/wish you could improve?
I don’t really think that I struggled with anything major over the entire course of the semester. Sure, there was the typical artist’s block now and again, but there was always something going on that would inspire me and also encourage me to draw something. My though process was a bit clunky in the beginning, but I’m extremely proud to say that my Passion Project was a complete success, and I’ve expanded my brand outside of just comics and illustrations to actual clothing design privately and publicly, as well as freelance design for outside clients.