As I struggle to think about what I want to write and share publicly, I came across Dirchansky's latest freetalk with an Artist 100Qs survey. I think it's a pretty easy way to get started on this freetalk. I originally tried to find a survey I had previously done years ago that I can redo, but realized that all of the old surveys I had done had questions that were too silly haha. Anyway, here it goes:
Q1: What's your HN (handle name)?
PowersWithin, pretty much everywhere, since my early teens.
Q2: Why do you call yourself that?
It is based on misheard lyrics from The Dreamstone - Rufus' Dream. I watched this a lot back when I was in elementary school. As for which part I misheard as "Powers Within"? I have no idea.
Q3: Do you use a Mac or a PC?
Both. I only use Macs if I'm on my work laptop. My personal computers have always been PC. I've grown to be equally comfortable with both.
Q4: What program do you use to do your pictures?
PaintTool Sai for line work and flats. Their smoothing function is great and it's easier to flood fill without there being a halo around the line work. I use Photoshop for shading and filters. I use Lightroom for photo editing. I use Illustrator for vector stuff, but I pretty much only do vectors when it's for work.
Q5: Do you use a tablet or a mouse?
I use a tablet (Wacom Bamboo) for most things. However I prefer to use a track pad (gasp!) for vector stuff.
Q6: What colours do you use a lot?
I tend to go for the orange-yellow light source and blue-purple shadows color scheme.
Q7: What area of the pictures do you put most effort into?
Colors and shading. I think it's also where my strength lies.
Q8: About how long does it take you do finish each picture?
It depends on the complexity and level of finesse I'm going for. It can be a quick 20 minute speed paint to something that takes 10+ hours. It's also hard to for me to know for sure because I'm easily distracted while working on things. As a result, it's hard for me to know how long sometime actually took if I had focused on it w/o all the distractions in-between.
Q9: Do you keep your rough drafts?
I often forget document WIPs, so in that sense no. Because my rough drafts would have became the final piece and I would've drawn over the rough drafts in the progress. If my drafts were in a separate file or piece of paper then yes.
Q10: What special effects do you often use?
All the adjustment layers!
Q11: What size do you colour your pictures in?
It depends where I intend for it to go. Speed paintings are usually in terrible resolutions but anything for print I aim for 300-600DPI.
Q12: Do you do anything else when you're drawing pictures?
Too much. From listening to music, to youtube videos on the side, to putting on a low effort show, to listening to podcasts.
Q13: About how many pictures do you draw in a month?
Since the COVID-19 pandemic I have drawn a grand total of 0 high finesse images. Many for funs sketch drawings though. Prior to this I definitely average <1 pic/month. There are periods where I draw many pages of comics per month if there's an anthology due to come out.
Q14: What paper do you use to draw on?
I pretty much draw digitally only. When I do draw on paper it's just the regular A4 printer paper.
Q15: What material do you use when working on paper?
Mechanic pencil, eraser, Pilot fine liner.
Q16: How long does it take to ink something?
It depends on how much inking there is to be done and how good the sketch is. Maybe an hour or so? I also tend to not spend too much on my inking because it's not my forte. Often times the inking gets covered up by colors anyway.
Q17: Do you do doujins?
Had to look up the definition to make sure. I'd say I've done original doujins (does PlantFever count? haha).
Q18: What did you like most about doujin?
Creating something together with like-minded individuals.
Q19: Ever submitted anything to a magazine?
There was an employee newspaper/magazine for kids (I was one at the time) who deliver the local paper. Those who submit can get $5. I submitted a Kingdom Hearts fan art.
Q20: Did any of those submissions go through?
Yes, and I got my $5 haha.
Things you like
I'm most invested in artists who are also my friends. Otherwise I would say Yuumei. The way she depicts colors and lighting is just breathtaking.
Q22: Favorite anime/manga?
A lot of the common animes like Digimon, Dragon Ball Z, Naruto, Attack on Titan, Bokurano, Now and Then here and There, .Hack// series (mostly for the world building and music). My introduction to anime was pretty limited to what was on the channel YTV at the time. This was way before online streaming was a thing. In terms of mangas, I really like Junji Ito's works.
Some webcomics that I've been enjoying recently:
Admittedly I don't really follow any at the moment.
Q23: Any characters from those anime/manga that you really like?
Androids 17 and 18 from Dragon Ball Z/Super - such great character development
Naruto and Itachi from Naruto - they seem like decent people
Armin from Attack on Titan - Not the typical "strong" character but he makes up for it in other ways
Q24: An artist that you'd like to draw like?
Not really. I take aspects I like from various artists but ultimately it's about nurturing my own style.
Q25: Any magazines that you buy a lot?
Nope. The only memory I have of buying a magazine is an issue of Nintendo Power. They had a Final Fantasy X-II demo in that issue.
Q26: Books that have been used as a good reference?
Nope I mostly just use the internet. So many great free resources.
Q27: Any video games you enjoy?
So many! Recently I've been really enjoying the Yakuza series. Great stories, characters, and fun gameplay. Each one gets more ridiculous and amazing than the last. It really brings me to joy and despair at the same time. You got your heart-wrenching main storyline combined with "are you for real" side quests. I look forward to Yakuza 7.
Another series I enjoyed in the more recent years is the Uncharted series. The premise and stories are pretty simple, but execution of character development and interactions is so spot on. All of that plus beautiful sets and fun game mechanics.
In my younger years I also played a lot of Final Fantasy. I really like the overall vibe of FF games. This includes the creative and beautiful world designs coupled with just as wondrous music. Admittedly I don't follow the storylines that closely.
How can I not mention the Zelda series? Especially with the most recent main release, Zelda - Breath of the Wild. The story may be a bit lacking (as with many Zelda games), but everything else is... breath-taking. I wait eagerly for its direct sequel.
I could go on but maybe I'll just write about it another time.
Q28: A character from those games that you really enjoy?
Majima Goro from Yakuza. I want a friend like that IRL.
Q29: Favorite writer?
I don't really read much beyond online articles and news, so I don't really have any preferences for specific writers. That said, I like the idea of what my friend Kestra Pingree is doing with their series, where the books are standalone but also interconnected. Please check their stuff out!
Q30: Any books you really enjoy?
I read books so sparsely. Many of the books from high school English actually made lasting impressions on me. Le Petit Prince is one of those books. It's a light read, quite whimsical, and gives you things to ponder about. I had read it in high school French. I would definitely like to read it in English someday to literally understand it better, and to go through the story from an adult's POV.
More recently I've read Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty. By read I mean I listened to the audiobook, which was recorded by the author herself. The book is about her experience working at a crematory. Quite a fascinating read about a mysterious world, and I enjoy her quirky approach to such a dark/heavy topic (by western standards).
Another book I listened to recently is Michael Pollan's How to Change your Mind. The subtitle, which moreorless captures what's in the book, is "What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence". I'm pretty fascinated by the mind in general, so a lot of the "what ifs" posed in this book are quite interesting to me.
Q32: Any music that you often listen to while drawing?
Yep. My taste in music is kind of all over the place. I sometimes listen to anime/game OSTs, sometimes utattemita covers, sometimes EDMs, sometimes pop, sometimes chill/ambient mixes.
Q34: Any websites that you totally admire?
Can't really think of any. I guess one example that pops out is this interactive resume. This website was memorable mostly because I haven't seen a resume presented like this before.
Q35: Any sites that you go to every day?
Youtbe, Gmail, Gogle, redd*t. I feel like this set might be pretty standard for a lot of people these days.
Q36: What kind of webpage do you wish you had?
Just something that's clean in terms of design, easy to navigate, and easy for me to update. I'm currently using Kirby v2 to run my site, which satisfies all of my website needs at the moment. I'm using my website mostly as the central source to document my creations. It's more for my own records than anything else. If people come here and enjoy my work, that's nice bonus too (thank you)!
Q37: Do you like your own art?
I tolerate it haha. It's forever a path to improvement.
Q38: What do you enjoy watching on TV?
Too many. I've had to cut back on shows since I feel like it's taking up too much of my time. I love Black Mirror. Black Mirror is probably the epitome of the type of stories I like. A mix of thrill, mystery, and mindfuck. Especially the mindfuck. I also enjoy WestWorld, which falls into similar genres as Black Mirror.
Unexpectedly, I also follow Grey's Anatomy because at this point it's like I've grown up with those characters for almost half of my life.
Q39: Favourite celebrity?
While I can appreciate some of their skills, ultimately I don't really care about celebrities. Maybe the closest to a "favorite celebrity" I have is DO@RAT, who I think is an amazing dancer. Reppin lady hip hop dancers!
Q40: Favorite colour?
Q41: Favorite food?
Spicy savoury food like ramen and most classic Xi'an foods.
Q42: Favorite drink?
Water, bubble tea, herbal tea, veggie/fruit smoothies
Q43: Any stores you visit often?
Grocery stores like Galleria. Mmm Korean side dishes, fish-shaped pastries, okra chips, shishito peppers, and more!
Q44: Do you like to cook?
No. But I enjoy the outcome of cooking so much that I sometimes will put in decent effort to cook.
Q45: What mailing service do you use?
Email for the most part. I've used Canada post for a lot of personal mails. I've done a lot of FedEx shipping for work.
Q46: What kind of computer do you use?
I'm currently on my work laptop, which is a macbook. My computer is a Gateway desktop gaming PC from 2012. I like the idea of getting a rather high-end PC at the time of purchase and then keep the same PC for a relatively long time. Digital moving is a hassle too!
Q47: Would you like to be a professional artist?
Not any more professional than I am now. The work I do allows me to use some of my artistic skills. Outside of work, I want to focus on doing what I want for enjoyment purposes only.
Q48: Any other jobs you're interested in, besides an illustrator?
I don't think I even want to be a professional illustrator atm. In terms of jobs outside of being a creative, being a gardener or farmer sounds appealing to me. However I don't actually know anything about being a professional gardener or farmer, so this is purely based on my naive understanding of what it entails. I just enjoy being around nature.
Q49: Any other hobbies besides drawing?
I make the odd music here and there. I sometimes do programming to make interactives. As I alluded to above, I also enjoy gardening. Mostly indoor gardening due to the limitations of downtown living.
Q50: Do you like movies?
Q51: What's your favorite movie?
Similar to my taste in TV shows, I like mindfuck movies. Examples include Inception, Interstellar, Triangle, Primer, The Matrix, Time Lapse, Coherence, etc.
Q52: What do you use to colour your pictures when it's on paper?
I haven't done this in so long. I've probably used colored pencils the most.
Q53: When did you start drawing seriously?
I still don't think I'm drawing seriously haha.
Q54: Have you ever entered art contests?
I vaguely remember entering a Kingdom Hearts fanart contest, and some ne*pets contest from decades ago.
Q55: Anything that you often use as a reference?
Image search for the most part. I've definitely used MMD for character pose references. For backgrounds/scenery, I sometimes use my own photos from hikes.
Q56: Do you have many online friends?
I have a good handful of close online friends whom I've been friends with for many years now! We may not talk to each other much but it's always good times when we do.
Q57: Do you have many online friends who like to draw?
Yeah I think most of them draw in one way or another.
Q58: What time of the day are you usually online?
As long as I'm awake.
Q59: Do you go to chatrooms a lot?
No, I don't enjoy interacting with strangers for the sake of chatting.
Q60: Do you have your own computer?
Yes, more than 1.
Q61: What would you say to the person you admire?
"Thank you for being you! Keep up the good work!"
Q62: At what kind of situations are you glad you were able to draw?
Taking the images in my head and sharing it in a tangible way. It also comes in handy when words don't suffice.
Q63: Situations where you aren't glad that you liked to draw?
When people voluntell me to draw something, not understanding the effort required.
Q64: Do you have many offline friends who like to draw?
Yes, I would say most of my current offline friends draw in some way.
Q65: Where do you like to hang out when you're with friends?
My pre-pandemic answers would be: Bubble Tea places where we can chill and chat and eat. Parks are nice too when there's access to clean bathrooms.
Q66: Do you have any artists that you don't like too much?
There are plenty of jerk artists out there.
Q67: Situations in which you really don't like being online?
No matter how wholesome the content, there will always be jerks hiding behind usernames that make discussions devolve into pointless arguments.
Q68: Situations in which you like being online?
There's so much information out there for learning new things. You can also connect with people that you otherwise would never be able to find in real life.
Q69: Something that makes you really glad that the internet exists?
Easily accessible tutorials out there for pretty much doing anything. Better understanding of worldy matters. Crowdsourcing information that can help solve crimes.
Q70: What about things that make you NOT glad that the internet exists?
It makes certain types of crimes so much easier to organize and commit. Also, online bullying where the victim now can't get away from it even outside of school.
Q71: What's the first picture you've ever shown to the public online?
I have zero recollection. I'm guessing it's something Pokemon because those were some of my first digital arts.
Q72: Do you still have that picture?
Q73: Has your drawing style changed a lot?
I think the content has changed a lot but maybe not the art style itself. I think I'm also able to do a few more styles than I was able to before.
Q74: How does it usually change?
I think it usually comes from learning new techniques while trying out a certain style that inspires me. Then I take that new technique and apply it to my usual workflow which eventually leads to something different. So in short, experimentation!
Q75: Have you experienced artists block before?
Oh ya definitely.
Q76: How did you escape from it?
Sometimes I look at the works of artists I follow to help get inspired. Another part of it is to just start drawing SOMETHING without expectations to get over the initial anxiety.
Q77: What happens when you have artists block?
Drawing would feel dreadful and then whatever I draw it doesn't look right to me. This then leads to more anxiety and it's a vicious cycle!
Q78: Any artists that have influenced you a lot?
I take inspiration from many different artists. I would say maybe Yuumei has influenced me the most in the way the I work with colors. Feng Zhu has inspired me a lot in terms of doing scenic speed paintings.
Q79: What made you like drawing?
I've always enjoyed drawing for as long as I can remember. When I was younger (like middle school), it was really about being able to draw my favorite anime (e.g., pokemon) and cartoon (e.g., Simpsons) characters. A bit later on, I really enjoyed the creation aspect of it. Turning imagination into something tangible, creating my own characters and worlds.
Q80: What made you want to get a website?
For the longest time my work was scattered across different social media accounts. I figured it'd be nice to have them in my own place, independent of other platforms.
Q81: Why did you name your site what it's called?
It's basically just my handle. The dot com was taken when I first tried to buy it so dot net was the next best option.
Q82: What do you think about net manners?
You'd think that there would be a basic level of decency that people would follow, but sadly that's not the case.
Q83: Have you ever been spammed?
Heck yeah! Some due to my own doing, especially when I was much younger.
Q84: Ever thought about quitting your webpage?
Not really. It's definitely had long stretches of times when it's not been updated, but hopefully that will be mitigated with a proper CMS this time around.
Q85: If so, why?
The lack of updates from before was because the process was too tedious for me.
Q86: About how much KB is each picture?
Each picture is megs nowadays.
Q87: When creating your site, do you use a program or pure html?
As mentioned above, I'm currently using Kirby v2 to run my site. Gone are my old days of using HTML tables and iframes for layouts haha.
Q88: Do you have good eyesite?
No, but it's also not the worst. If I lose my glasses, I can still manage tasks that don't involve reading from afar.
Q89: If you can get any person's autograph, who's would you get?
No one comes to mind since I'm not into celebrities.
Q90: Have you ever been asked for your autograph?
Not really. I think people have asked me to sign comics I was a part of.
Q91: Do you have any fans of yourself?
I wouldn't say so.
Q92: Do you like to oekaki?(paint-bbs)
Yes! It helped me practice drawing a lot. There was a time when I drew on oekaki boards during all of my free time.
Q93: Are you good at art(as in the school subject)?
Not particularly. I think I got ok marks but nothing spectacular.
Q94: Have you ever taken any art lessons, aside from school?
I took Chinese watercolor classes for a while.
Q95: Have you ever drawn comics/manga?
Q96: Any quotes that you like?
"This too shall pass."
Q97: Do you think your personality is different when you're online, from when you're offline?
I think I generally sound more enthusiastic and expressive in writing, because I use a lot of !!!!s to overcompensate for my lack of expressiveness irl!!!!!
Q98: Your goal?
At the moment, to live my best life defying social norms and expectations, and to empower others to do the same.
Q99: A message to yourself.
Revisit questionnaire in a decade or so.
Q100: A message to the people who have read this.
Whoa, you actually got through it all! Thank you for your time, I hope you enjoyed.