The key aspect to understanding my development as an artist has been my consistent isolation from popular media or trends. Only in my teen years have I come to understand this aspect of artistic development and how it relates to my thought process when creating art. That isn’t to say that my art creation has been completely self-taught or without influence, far from it. I can name many influences from the music I listen to, the cartoons I watched growing up, the movies I have come to enjoy, etc. What I’m emphasising is that my art development is not analogous to most trends in art, rather they come from self exploration and my own personal interests rather than trying to appease someone. An obvious reason in hindsight has to be my lack of friends growing up. Even today, though I would consider myself to have pretty solid relations with most people I talk to on a regular basis, I have a limited few that I’ve allowed myself to be truly honest with, those people being who I consider my closest friends. What this results to is me being completely unaware of most thoughts within mainstream pop-culture and just relying on the public statements of the masses. Though I don’t understand most of why people go towards popular trends, outside of basic psychology, I’m not completely shut off from the outside world; I understand what happens around me and why it happens. With this format of me understanding the modern day, however, I don’t gravitate towards the leading zeitgeist through social interaction as do most people, but rather invest myself solely with my continually evolving ability to understand the world, moving towards ideas that better fit how I see reality. I know it’s pretty pretentious to say that I’m some sort of special snowflake for not giving into pop-culture or whatever but that’s just how I’ve been as a person. My lack of social awareness gave me absolutely no incentive to go towards the trending topics. For instance, a lot of people I know have watched, and do watch, a substantial amount of anime. Had I been more interactive with them talking about these shows, maybe I would have watched more anime growing up. Instead, the only anime I ever watched growing up was whatever YTV had on at any given day. I know it’s kind of weird for someone who wants to become an animator to have such a limited view of anime but that’s because my interest in animation came from other places. Perhaps to give another anecdote concerning my social interaction and media consumption, only until early last year, most of the music I listened to was only classical or traditional folk music. This was because I was completely unaware of any trending rock or hip hop in the world. Honestly, only until last year have I been aware of rap’s history in relation to music with only minor knowledge of rock acts due to so many edgesters on Reddit recommending me towards Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin. To this day, I maintain that there’s more good classical music than there is in modern music today, at least in terms of sonic quality. Some of my favourite songs may be rock, but I’ll still feel immense emotion when listening to an eastern church chant or the scores of Ennio Morricone. Thankfully, I started to grow out of staying solely within traditional music and now appreciate a wide variety of genres, even going back to electronica somewhat after listening to Boards of Canada. Another reason for my isolation from pop-culture might be my Asperger’s. As a matter fact, it may serve as a primary reason for my trend isolationism as one of the key aspects of Asperger’s syndrome is the lack of social interaction. To get to the point I want to make though, another trait of Asperger’s is the repetition of actions and minor compulsion to perform these actions ritually. Given that pop-culture is centred around the idea of being different and changing things up, people with Asperger’s may have difficulty doing that. As well, to provide even more anecdotal commentary, mainstream culture is tailored to appeal to the thoughts of people with a normal way of processing knowledge and feelings. People with Asperger’s don’t have a normal way of processing knowledge and feelings. Therefore, intrinsically, pop-culture has no appeal to me. Overall, the effect that this isolation has had on my artwork is that it results in art that is much more true to myself. Without pop-culture, I lack any sort of input for attention and simply produce output from what’s already there, my personal thoughts and feelings. As well, as I age and become more knowledgeable of the world around me, this seems to hold true as I look back on my previous artworks and see a version of myself that was much more pure and free of influence. Not to say I wasn’t influenced by anything, everyone is, only that it is more so as my influences have only multiplied on themselves as I grow older. Picasso’s famous quote about taking so long in his life to learn how to paint like a child is probably the highest authority to base my claim, as I believe he was referring to cultural influences intrinsically affecting how biases constrict humanity’s natural inclinations when it comes to art. Though this has been an ever present force in my artwork, its influence has been slightly limited due to my inability to recognize its effects. However, once I became more aware of it, I started to actively encourage its effects through the way I think about making a piece of art. I’ve disallowed myself from thinking about copying or mimicking art unless I know why the art was made like that. Once I know why the art was made and under what circumstances, only then do I allow it to influence me. For instance, only after recently studying the progression of art over the 19th and 20th century have I started to accept more abstract and radical forms of art such as Post-Impressionism or the compositions of Jackson Pollock and incorporate ideas from that into my own work. In anycase, this is one the primary factors that underlie my artistic progression. Without this isolation from trends, my artistic progression may have very well been heavily tampered with and perhaps my tumblr posts would have a lot more digital sketches and figures with dyed hair. I want this factor to be kept in mind when reviewing the development of my art as the reactions are not directly from the big events in those time periods, rather they are reactions to how my viewpoint of art, representation, and life in general, started to change. As you may you have already noticed, the format of this writing is in a very “stream of consciousness” style of progressing from idea to idea. It’s not that I can’t write in a style that organizes these ideas into separate blocks of thought, rather that I want each and every idea to lead into each other so that the progression of my art development is better understood. As with the aforementioned Asperger’s, this will be the point when the writing may come off as somewhat preachy though I can assure that this writing is doing nothing more but being bluntly honest. Not that I feel that this work will offend anyone’s sensibilities, rather that the context of ideas affecting my artwork will be viewed in a singularly selfish lens that gives no consideration to the magnitude of its influence outside of my own work. Don’t be surprised if I start saying that Salvador Dali is only slightly interesting to how I view representation as I solely want to focus on how Dali affected me, not how Dali affected the world at large. In essence, all art is only being considered as to how it affects the ideas of a young mind, please don’t think of it as critique.