In the spring of 2017, as a way to push myself, I decided to embark on a personal redesign of a story I loved. I’ve been an avid reader of fiction and children’s books ever since I was young, and one of my favorite stories of all time is The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. I thought it would be fun to reimagine the story in a different setting—specifically, Okinawa, a place that is colorful, cultural, and mysterious. As an artist, I’m also drawn to fantasy and mythical creatures, so I thought, why not put everything I love together in one project?
It took about a whole year to develop the pieces from concepts to final art. While I learned a lot in the process, the most important thing that stood out to me was this: having fun. Before I came up with this project, I was in the middle of a huge art block. I was completely paralyzed by the pressure to make perfect work, and I would overthink my subjects based on current trends, or what I thought people liked. Drawing began to feel so much like a chore that I started to lose track of my sense of identity and my reason for doing art in the first place.
But then, I recalled a friend’s advice: draw what you love. Suddenly, I was able to tap from a bottomless well of inspiration. It was a huge joy to re-craft an entire world and a cast of characters based on the book. I was reminded about the desire to draw things I was most interested in. It was then that I also realized the value of having interests and activities outside of art. Art fuels our lives as artists, but the reverse is just as true: life fuels our art, too.
I was so invested in this project because it was fun, and to this day I still think about it. When time allows, perhaps I’ll revisit it and expand this little universe I’ve created.