How Children’s Entertainment has shaped my creativity

My sketch of Totoro in colored pencil

My sketch of Totoro in colored pencil

Ask anyone close to me and they will tell you that I’m like a big kid. At almost 30 years old, I still get excited with things aimed towards ages 5+.

An avid reader, I would find myself plunged into a variety of worlds and adventures. I still remember books that inspire me today with their wondrous stories and timeless illustrations. When I was in elementary school, a book called “The Rainbow Fish” by Marcus Pfister had the most beautiful illustrations. Long story short, it is about a fish with beautiful shimmery scales who learns to share his beauty with others once he gives his scales away. Besides the lovely message the book shares, I was drawn into the colors and details of this underwater world. The author used a combination of pencils and watercolors to achieve the mystery of the ocean waters and its inhabitants.

Another book that inspires me as an Artist is “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss. Despite the fact that the illustrations are crudely drawn, their effect opens up the eyes of the reader and invites them to learn simple and beautiful lessons. I especially loved the neon colors used by Dr. Seuss for the Truffula trees which reminded me of cotton candy. Almost good enough to eat.

As I got older, I read “Le Petit Prince” by Antoine de Saint Exupery in its original French. What still strikes me today is the size of the inhabitants of each planet relative to the planet’s actual size. How the baobab trees cover each inch of the planet and ultimately conquers the planet and consumes it for its own needs. I had visited an exhibit dedicated to Antoine de Saint Exupery at the Morgan Library & Museum several years back. The exhibit consisted of early sketches and mock-ups of the books. Going through the progression of Saint Exupery’s vision through his sketches and watercolors made me feel as if I was in a world where everything was bold yet simple. Where a little boy and his adventures to understand the world could be relatable to anyone.  

My creativity has also been highly influenced by animation, specifically Anime. I am admittedly, a huge Sailor Moon fan. Naoko Takeuchi created the iconic character with her band of Sailor Scouts in the early 1990s. The characters features were so exaggerated and otherworldly. Beautiful, strong and stylish, I wanted to be Sailor Moon. Alas, I am merely a human. Another Japanese artist I recently started to admire is Hayao Miyazaki. The man behind Studio Ghibli brought us “Spirited Away” and “My Neighbor Totoro”. What blew me away besides the wonderful storytelling, were the uses of colors. A simple scene showing fields in the country with a beautiful sky of light blues and white clouds leaves the viewer feeling uplifted and even hopeful. The fictional and often absurd characters lend me room to imagine far from what I see with my own two eyes. What I really love is the juxtaposition of the characters compared to the background scenery which almost looks impressionistic.

Overall, I believe that creative inspiration can be found anywhere. As I focus on simple and overlooked things, I find the beauty within them which I aim to share through my paintings. Are there any things in particular that inspire you? Let me know in the comments!