My first time engaging with narrative illustration was during my sophomore year of high school. My art class hosted a small children’s book illustration contest. The winner would receive the paid opportunity to illustrate the rest of the author’s book. Though I did not have much confidence in winning, I did my best planning the layouts of each page and rendering everything as nicely as I could.
I coincidentally won on my birthday, but the conversation after was the only thing that would stick with me to this day. The author told me everyone on the decision-making committee did not find anything special with my work and that it was not even in consideration. It turns out that the author’s kid niece advocated that my illustrations were “the one,” excitedly pointing to it the whole time. Everyone else was eventually swayed by her.
I always think about how my work resonated so much with a child that they expressed so much enthusiasm and happiness. I think that is one of the reasons why I kept pursuing illustrative storytelling afterwards, so that I could share my art and stories with others in hopes to spark a similar joy.
“Potpourri” is the assortment of the five stories I developed throughout my time as a student: Welcome to the Golden Fin, Viridian, Pyro-Penguin, Murder at the Wistful Wisteria Inn, and Rupert. They are all in varying states of progress; some having more developed characters and worlds, while others are still tiny sprouts. Regardless, all my characters and their stories are deeply loved. I aim for this exhibit to give you a snippet into their lives through my digital and watercolor illustrations, as well as by bringing small aspects of their stories out in the form of props to make them feel truly alive.