photo-essay / students / entertainment-design
March 13, 2017
By Nick Wyatt

An Entertainment Design Student's Guided Tour of the Emotions and Experiences Animating his Sketchbook

I was always drawing as a kid. I mean, what child wasn't? It was mostly stick figures, cards for my family and doodles that got far more praise than they deserved.

I was afraid to really express myself until a middle school teacher handed me a sketchbook to express my ideas. I constantly used analogies to explain my feelings. (I once described a sore throat as my voice fighting through dry Cheetos and toenails. It got the doctor laughing good.)

It took me a few weeks before I drew anything. But the teacher kept checking in until I did what would now be called 'fan art'—a drawing based on an early YouTube video of cute fox dancing to music. It took too much time for something so simple. I was always afraid that if I didn't dot and cross every ‘i’ and ‘t’ I would be judged as a failure. That’s probably why I was so afraid to draw for so long. I was already autistic or possibly aspbergers and I was worried any risk would add to my problems.

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But I did it. And it felt nice to see my idea exist outside my head—now more real because it was in front of me. Because I put it there. It made me want to cry for some reason. But I did that a lot back then. It also made me want to try covering another page with my own work, and not someone else's ideas.

Actually, I do the sketchbooks mostly to get away from school. There are a few sketches I try to incorporate into the lessons and principles. But school is for class assignments where you need to make something to reach or surpass a goalpost—or at least understand some question about art you subconsciously want answered. It dampens the imagination and free thoughts.

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That's not what a sketchbook is for. My sketchbook is for me. What I want. What I think about. It’s my mind's journal as I travel through my head. It's so I'm not lonely, or at worst a terrible father of thought. You see, I spent a lot of my life alone. I was that kid at the party you felt bad for but were scared to approach. I sat with the TV to calm my thoughts. I experienced life through the perspective of cartoon characters, who enabled me to escape into a reality where I didn't exist.

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I draw my figments because I need to. They've comforted me and helped me grow. I chose Entertainment Design because of the Character Animation track. Seemed the most likely path toward making my thoughts as real as they can be. I don't really care where I end up, just as long as there's time enough for my own ideas in some capacity. Work is for making a living that keeps you alive. Art is for making worlds that can't exist without your imagination.

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