Art is my greatest passion in life and I work to improve by drawing daily. Even on my busiest days, I manage to carve out a little time for it. These days the bulk of my work is digital or pixel, but I do traditional pieces often. Some of the mediums I use include Acrylic paints, Oil paints, Watercolors, Micron Pens, Copic Sketch Markers and Prismacolor Pencils (The Verithin variety is what I use most for fine details like hair strands and facial features).
Much of my inspiration came from the video games I played as a kid. I love creating pixel art and am self-taught in many different styles. My venture into pixel art began at the young, impressionable age of ten when I discovered Microsoft Windows Paint at school. I picked up Mario Paint for the Super Nintendo around that time and was introduced to spriting and basic animation. This taught me how to draw using a mouse since I had no computer at home. I still create all of my digital pieces, including paintings, with a mouse instead of a tablet.
Once I figured out that I could make my own digital drawings, it was hard to pull me out of the school library. I would glue myself to the nearest computer and create character group scenes, pixel-by-pixel, using only my imagination and the characters from my own stories. I didn't have a desktop PC at home until the age of fourteen so I'd usually print these pictures to save them. Sadly, those are long gone now. My family and I would pack up and move every couple of months when I was young, so a lot of things have gone missing over the years.
In High School, I finally started carrying around floppy disks for Computer Lab projects and at this point the computers had high speed internet. When class ended, I'd browse through hundreds of pages dedicated to the Furry Fandom. I read every comic and fanfic that looked decent. I also tried my hand at writing and still do a bit of my own storytelling to this day.
I first got involved with the Furry Fandom through the Sonic Fan Universe in 1999. My character, Tacoma, was exclusively anthro and inspired heavily by anime and cartoon "Sonic" styles which you can see in a piece of gift art I received here. As I grew older, Tacoma grew with me. During my teenage years, Tacoma had a cynical, moody personality. She often wore a spiked collar, including one on her tail. Her appearance reflected my own at the time. I was battling a lot of inner demons and, while drawing was an outlet for this, my perfectionist nature caused art to be another source of stress. I vanished for months on end and stopped posting my work online. I didn't feel like I measured up against a tidal wave of other artists. Social media put so much pressure on me to improve that I simply shut down under the weight of it.
I grew increasingly frustrated with myself when drawings did not turn out the way I wanted them to. Practice sheets were common as I struggled to keep proportions realistic and facial features expressive. I experimented with Photoshop and tried my hand at digital coloring which eventually grew better with time. These days I am much more confident in my Photoshop abilities having learned light sourcing, proper shading and use of color. It took me a very long time to get where I am today, and I can honestly say now that every stressful, anxiety-ridden moment on the way there was worth it.
I now live with my wife, Lunati, whom I met on Furcadia in February of 2004. Lunati and I remained close online for many years, talking every day on AIM or Furcadia. We first met in person on February 2006. Lunati and I spent the next six years of our relationship making annual trips to visit one another. I lived in the suburbs of Tampa, Florida and she was 1,300 miles away in St. Paul, Minnesota. It took me years to settle my affairs and build up the courage to move in with her but I am very glad I did. On February 14th 2016 we were married at the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory in St. Paul.
Freelance art is my only job at this time, as I am unemployed due to chronic illness. My own battles with MS and anxiety have affected my ability to focus and keep a steady hand while drawing. Because of this, I have slowed down somewhat on traditional pieces like inking and pencil work as my accuracy has decreased. I've found digital art to be more forgiving, with erasers and undo commands that let me go back and fix any uneven lines and features. I also don't have to worry about running out of a specific color because the entire palette is always available. I can take my time on personal projects and experiment easily with different colors.
Commissions have never paid my bills, but I enjoy it and would rather do something I love than be stuck in a job I hate making money I can't enjoy. Art has been a combination of therapy and way to make a few extra dollars every month or so. The largest commissions I've gotten have been fully animated sprite avatars for about $250 and I can count on one hand the number of those I've done. I end up getting maybe 2-4 small commissions at a time and it does supplement my otherwise non-existent income.
The process of making pixel art has been especially therapeutic to me. I work pixel-by-pixel, one at a time, gradually shading and adding texture, color and life to each sprite. Every piece is truly a labor of love. My most used programs include Aseprite, Microsoft Paint Classic and GraphicsGale. A feature I love that's hard to find in programs is the ability to swap between two color sources with one keystroke. The Furcadia FOX editor is one I go to a lot for this reason. Photoshop, Illustrator, SAI and Manga Studio are all wonderful programs that I use regularly for digital pieces but when it comes to crisp, clean pixel art, I think I'll always prefer the basics.
Art serves its greatest purpose as a way to express my emotions and challenge myself, which is why I would love to start a patreon someday. About 80% of the art I've done in the past 10 years has been for others, and as a result, many of my own creations have gone neglected. Tacoma, my main character, is extremely important to me and my wish has always been for her to get the love I feel she deserves. I love to receive art of Tacoma and will never object to anyone who is willing to draw her!
Aside from art, I have a few different hobbies in my spare time. I enjoy leatherworking, sewing bags and costume pieces and taxidermy. I also play a lot of pc and consoles games and keep a list of what I'm working through on Backloggery. I'm also an active Pokémon shiny hunter and my friend code is 0877-1068-0552. My Steam handle is Cloudtigress and Blizzard Battle Net ID is Smokie #1777. Let me know if you add any of these and I'll be happy to return the favor!
My furcadia community Club Nimbus remains my largest project to date and has grown considerably since 2004. I'm glad to have been able to put so much time into it, even if I'm no longer active on Furcadia. Come visit us sometime!