When I was eight years old, I thought that being an artist meant hanging paintings on white gallery walls and wearing berets. I loved cartoons, I loved my storybooks, but somehow I hadn’t been able to link the fact that what I enjoyed could also be something that could become my profession. So I began looking for other vocational solutions.
In high school, I was convinced that a career in math might be my calling. Naturally, I was about as skilled with numbers as a Tyrannosaurus is with a pianoforte, but I was sure that this job would be the one for me. I pursued my dream with vigour and found, around two classes into my third form year, that I’d made the worst decision in the world. The best thing I could do in my math class was to turn the algebra signs into interesting little characters and catalogue the story of their little numerical lives. My teacher, although somewhat tickled by the idea, found the ‘Quadraticools’ a bit too difficult to grade and thus, once again, my future was uncertain.
I trained as a chef, I worked as a sales manager and as a barista. I tended bar, I taught design, I helped bring characters to life on film, I animated, I toured, I wrote, I planned, I studied. And I tried so many different jobs, I felt that, after a while, I was turning into a Forrest Gump quote. My career life was like a box of chocolates; most of my jobs I enjoyed, but none had the sticky, gooey centre of self-fulfillment that I craved.
Then I was asked a simple question by a good friend, ‘If money wasn’t an object, what would you be doing?’. Almost instantly, I answered, ‘Making comics. Not for money, not for a business, but for me. Telling stories, building worlds, that’s what I want to do’. My friend gave me a knowing look, and I found that my insecurities, my fears and my hesitation were slowly rolling away. It didn’t mean that things would be easy, it didn’t mean that I wouldn’t have struggles. It just meant that I had, without using Google, without thinking, without comparing myself to any poll, story or article, decided from my gut that I knew what was best for me.
Nowadays I sit at home, one cat on the chair, one on the windowsill, coffee in my hand, polar-fleece blanket on my legs. I spend the morning googling references and doing warm-up doodles before I set in a day’s worth of drawing, painting, taking absolutely ridiculous reference photos (yes, I can be a 10-foot-tall bearded tax collector with long golden locks, a peg leg and three eyes. Sure. No problem). And I’m happy, because I know this is what I want to do.
Also, my Math teacher said that I was very ‘enthusiastic’ but not often on the same planet as everyone else.