Rather than writing a witty bio, I feel like I should really take this opportunity to simply get on my soap box, and throw an idea at you guys in the hope that it strikes a chord with one or two kids who feel a little overwhelmed, lost or intimidated in the creative arts. So, at the risk of sounding like a pretentious ding dong ... *steps onto box...*
I am going to go out on a limb here and guess that if you are reading this book, then you are a fan of fantasy art, and therefore there is a good chance that you are an aspiring artist and have grand dreams of creating your own incredible worlds and maybe one day being in a book like this. Well, I am here to tell you that not only can you do this, but you should. All it takes is a lot of hard work and constant practice.
Firstly, it is important to disenchant this dirty word ‘talent’. When we see people showcase amazing abilities at a young age, this does not mean that they were gifted from birth. It is simply because they love the activity and are therefore compelled to do it more than others. The activity becomes routine. Much like a child who might love soccer and play it day in and day out would be a much better soccer player than me. We have not seen all the countless hours of practice the child has put in, and so assume that the abilities are natural. ‘Wow! so talented, I couldn’t do that.’ In one sentence, we discredit all the hard work and effort while at the same time we put the abilities on a pedestal of genius. The reality is that you could do it—but it takes years and years of practice, dedication and enthusiasm.
It really is nurture over nature. I was never naturally talented at art, but I continued to do it because I loved it and I had unwavering family support (thanks, Mum and Dad!). Looking at my classmates at the time, my art skills were severely underdeveloped, distractions and laziness got the better of me and my brain simply wasn’t wired to find hard work rewarding. But through sheer bullheaded determination and a lot of growing up, I managed to stick with it and put in the time to get my craft to a professional state (albeit with a lot of partying in the process). And now I am here, in the White Clouds Worlds book, something I had wished I could be good enough to be in ever since the first book came out five years ago.
Now, I am a successful freelance illustrator, and an award-winning Senior Tutor at Massey University (OK, I had to throw in a shameless plug somewhere). I had to really work hard to understand and grow my abilities. I say all of this not to impress you, but to impress upon you the fact that you all have the potential to become better than any of the artists in this book. And I really hope you do. There is no greater path you can choose than the path of a creative. I look forward to seeing you alongside me in this book one day. :)