I do wonder if Aeolus will have managed to drag herself out of Osomatsu-san hell by the time this post goes up. Judging by her Tumblr, probably not, ahaha. In any case, it is with great enthusiasm and a tinge of anticipation that I introduce you all to yet another one of my talented friends.
Some of you might find her name a little familiar, which means that you either knew her on Tumblr before she changed her name to noodlebox-bird or you recognize her from the Current Projects page of my blog as the artist for our up-and-coming webcomic!
(That’s unlikely because I only just switched that name to Aeolus last week)
In any case, yes, Aeolus is my excruciatingly talented (and incredibly sweet) aspiring artist of a friend. In general, if I’m trapped in a fandom, it’s because she’s dragged me down into it. Often times, it’s also vice versa. We’re co-pilots and mutual captors on this wretched vessel of obsession. Usually we manage to take Danny hostage too, haha.
To be honest, I only met Aeolus through Danny. Whereas with my other friends, I have some kind of embarrassing story to explain away our meeting, Aeolus and I met in a relatively typical way – Danny introduced us. Or, rather, Danny stuffed us into a skype chat together because she couldn’t bother to carry on two separate conversations, but seeing where I am now, I suppose I’m glad for that.
At first I didn’t know what to make of Aeolus. I was polite because she was a friend of a friend, but I never made active effort to get to know her. I don’t think I really gave her a chance, at first. For some reason, I had the impression that I would never be able to be comfortable around her. I’ll never be able to really articulate why, especially when since then we’ve been content to spend five hours in a cafe simply talking and doodling and creating stories together until the sun was long gone and the barista gave us pointed looks.
In retrospect, as selfish and shallow as it may sound, I think Aeolus first piqued my interest when I saw her art. I don’t remember how it was introduced to me, but I took one look and was struck a blow. Something about her art clicked into place in my mind, and I had the sense that someone with these ideas, who can draw with this kind of feeling in mind, was someone I wanted to be friends with.
Personally, I think the best part of being friends with an aspiring artist like Aeolus is that I got to meet her in the fledgling stages of her career. She is constantly improving, constantly exploring, so every new piece of hers is a surprise. There is little I find more motivating and exhilarating as watching her growth as a creator. However, to truly appreciate how much I appreciate her art, I’ll need to provide some context to – you guessed it – my upbringing again.
I was raised in a household where criticism was the norm. I was taught to not give out blind praise or consider other people’s creative works as anything beyond mediocre. I remember that, as a child, I would often point out a piece of artwork or a play or a concert performance that I enjoyed, only to have my mother tell me that what I found so amazing wasn’t impressive at all. She could do better (she usually could), or she had grown up in one of the best art/music institutions in South Korea – surrounded by talented people, so she was no longer easily impressed. Growing up with this viewpoint meant that I felt the need to adopt a similar sense of condescension towards creative works.
This isn’t me speaking poorly of my family – it’s just how it was and is part of who I am today. I’ve counteracted a lot of my disdain for passion projects by learning to appreciate based on effort and intent, not final product. Seeing Aeolus’ artwork was probably one of the first times I felt that it was okay to appreciate again. In fact, her work was the first creative work I dared to show my mother while I was in high school.
Mom gave her rare praise, and even if she hadn’t, it probably would have been the first time that I decided that Mom was wrong. I mean, look at this:
These aren’t even what I consider to be her best and brightest work, which don’t happen to be on Instagram so I wouldn’t feel right being the one to post it to a public domain, but still. Aeolus’ style is surprising and warm, and what I love most about it is that I can see her through the art style. There are some people whose works I see but fail to feel because they are too generic or too clinical, which aren’t mutually exclusive. Maybe I’m biased because I already know her, but I can feel the traces of her own character that she leaves in her artwork, and that’s the main reason I think her work is so great.
Furthermore, I am of the belief that technique can be honed and learned over time. Learning ideas and inspiration, I feel, is harder. With Aeolus, be it fine art for school assignments or fanart for the internet or just sketches for herself and friends, her ideas are fresh and often tell stories all on their own. And, as my dear readers should know by now, I’m all about stories.
And Aeolus is smart about stories, too. Sharing my story ideas with her is a delight – she can always contribute to the characters or come up with scenarios that emphasize the mood I hope to achieve. Sometimes, I feel a little bad because if she gives me an inch, I’ll be tempted to run for it and take a mile – even a hint of interest in a story of mine makes me want to rant and rave and tell her the entire thing, and I’m always a little sorry because she’s certainly busy enough with her own projects and schoolwork without throwing my ramblings into the mix.
However, while I hold back with my own stories, I’m not actually very good about holding back my enthusiasm for other works. I owe Aeolus an apology because, out of all of my friends, she’s the one that I drag down into the abyss of my obsessions with me. Exhibits A through D:
A: Hunter x Hunter
C: Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun
And then of course, there’s my stupid idea that Danny, Aeolus, and I all went to town with, which is a webcomic we are calling Duo of Doom:
Aeolus is doing all the character designs for the comic, and I still get giddy when I think that she found the initial idea interesting enough to invest her time and creativity into. Then again, judging from the skype log, she spawned half the premise, so perhaps it’s only natural… Even so, the fact that she managed to draw as much of it as she did despite the pressures of school and family, is something I endlessly appreciate and admire her for.
Oh, and if you’re wondering, above is one of our two protagonists for the comic. His name is Nutella. Don’t ask, we’ll get to it eventually. Some day.
I’m realizing as I write this post that it’s difficult for me to describe Aeolus. She has a personality that teeters on the balance of many things – sweet but not light, warm but not stifling – I suppose what I get from Aeolus is an atmosphere, not necessarily a proper description. She simply exudes the air of a wonderful person, someone who is willing to listen and someone whose own mind is alive with her own ideas.
Aeolus likes to people-watch. I think that’s fantastic. Aeolus bears an appreciation for life and the act of living, seeing people go about their lives. When we walk on the street together, she always manages to take notice of some fashionable flair of some passerby, one that once she points out, I never understand how I missed.
Sometimes when I talk with her, I feel parallels between my upbringing and hers. Perhaps it’s impudent of me to think so, but I feel as though some degree of shared experiences make us, although incredibly different at first glance, somewhat similar on a fundamental level. For one thing, we’re both older sisters to obnoxious younger brothers – it’s actually failry easy to tell if someone is, surprisingly. There are a lot of common traits between older sisters, especially if the difference is two to four years.
On occasion, I worry that I fail to express my care towards Aeolus properly. I don’t speak with her as frequently as with others because our timezones don’t quite match up, and my current circumstances don’t allow me to organize surprise presents like I might have in the past. When it comes to the webcomic, I worry that I’ve trapped her in a project she’s too busy for with my own enthusiasm.
Sometimes I worry that she doesn’t let herself vent about her life enough, mainly because a lot of my relationships are built upon the fact that I offer up my services as a sounding board. With acquaintances I tolerate, but with friends I’m eager to help, and it’s one of the only ways I know how to express how important a friend is to me. I suppose it’s good that she doesn’t feel the need to vent very often, but it also leaves me at a loss for what to do.
Aeolus is kind and keen, and I am grateful to have met her at this stage in my life and hers. I have called other people an inspiration, but Aeolus is a motivation. When I see her creativity and her dedication to her work and ideas, I am driven to try just as hard. One of my goals for the future is to become an established author, one popular enough to make requests of the publishing company – or ideally, one popular enough to have her own publishing company – and purchase Aeolus’ services for illustrations.
She keeps telling me that she would feel bad for charging me, but no, Aeolus, that’s bad business practice. You do one person a favor and suddenly everyone will expect one. I’m going to pay money at the normal rate, and that’s final.
Really, I consider myself blessed to have my friends in my life.