JTOONED is… Feeling Grateful

Lately, I’ve been in a writing mood and I have so many thoughts in my head but no time to get them all down. A lot of my blog posts lately are culminations of days and/or weeks of entries that just get built up over time until I feel they’re complete. It’s rare when I get to sit down and write all in one sitting lately. I guess it allows for a few things – it lets me go back and re-read what I wrote and let’s me re-affirm that how I felt when I wrote it still applies and that it all makes sense.  I received a surprising amount of feedback on my last post – primarily because I wasn’t expecting it. I’m glad that it was able to resonate with so many of you and it makes me feel good when something that I’m feeling rings bells with so many others. It’s almost such a taboo thing to talk about because you feel guilty for feeling that way, but if you don’t talk about it, then how do you feel better about it? Anyway, if you care to read on about my life, then welcome. If not, then I wouldn’t know otherwise :).

Whenever it gets to the end of the year, I can’t help but start to reflect on it and think about what kind of change it brought my way, what hurdles did I have to jump over and how many positive things I’ve been lucky to come across. Notice my choice of words when I talk about the challenges – “what hurdles”, and when I talk about the good things “how many”. It’s important to reflect on all things but it’s more important to, as they say “count your blessings and not your problems”. I don’t count the challenges because they are nothing but a weight that you just can’t lift yet. I do count my achievements and victories because those are the things you build to lift the weight you couldn’t before. In other words, it’s kind of like adding to your squat or bench press – you’re never looking at the weight that’s not on the bar, you’re looking at the weight you’re pushing so that you can put more of it on, feel me?

It’s been 2.5 years since I started this thing called JTOONED. It was never meant to be what it was today… I guess what I mean is, I never imagined it to be what it is today. You know when people talk about how where they are today and how it’s because of the people that believed in them? That’s literally JTOONED. I didn’t think I could draw cars or create digital artwork but all it took was someone to see potential to try something new and convince me to jump for it. One thing led to another and here I am, knocking out all sorts of artwork because I began starving for challenge and new things. I’m a bit embarrassed at where I started because I look back and cringe a bit, but in that same breath, there were people that believed it to be amazing and that meant a lot to me. It still means a lot to me, because despite where I am now or what kind of art I’m creating, there really isn’t a day that goes by where my pencil hits the canvas and I don’t think about where I started and how grateful I am to all of you.

There have been many weeks where I have literally said aloud to Diana, “I think JTOONED is dead”. Maybe because some days I feel totally burned out and don’t feel like picking up the pencil, or maybe because I haven’t had a commission request in a few days. But I’ll admit to you right now that there also has not been a week that has gone by since May 2020 that I have not had at least one commission. Wild. I’m not trying to brag either. It’s just me validating the fact that I’m thankful for every single one of you that has reached out to me for a project. Some of you want the popular item on the menu, some of you want to try something new, some have new ideas and chose me to test it. Whatever the reason, I’m still here because of you and I’ve grown an exponential amount because of it.

I’ve logged a little over 1000 toons since I started. One, zero, zero, zero. Three zeros.  What the hell? Isn’t that insane? What’s more insane is that I’ve been able to connect with almost that many people around the world. Obviously not a 1:1 ratio since many have had more than one toon with me, but DUDE. Art is a crazy thing. Combine that with social media and you have something crazy powerful. I feel like I’ve tooned almost all the local cars here, I’ve tooned for someone in almost every State in the US (probably), I’ve tooned a literal dump truck and hauler for a guy in the East Coast, I’ve tooned a motorcycle for a guy down under (Australia – get your mind out of the gutter), I’ve tooned a guys’ guitar in Japan… I can go on, but you can see the reach that this all has and I’m absolutely grateful for every single person whose path I’ve crossed. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – for every toon I’ve done, it’s made the next toon – even if it was just a miniscule difference – better. A 0.1% improvement over 1000 toons is a 100% improvement. Refer to what I said above again – ” it’s kind of like adding to your squat or bench press – you’re never looking at the weight that’s not on the bar, you’re looking at the weight you’re pushing so that you can put more of it on”. Mind. Blown. 

You know what I never understood until now? When people say “without you guys, I wouldn’t be here” or “I’m able to do what I do because of you guys”. It never made sense to me because – what did I do? I just watch your videos, or I just like your posts, or I just follow you. And sure, there are people that just like to come along for the ride and there’s nothing wrong with that – I enjoy you enjoying being here – you don’t matter any less. But it’s mainly for the people that say “hey, I trust you to bring my vision to life” or “yo, I know you don’t toon X or Y, but I totally think you could if you tried” or “I’ve got an idea and I really wanted you to draw it because I dig your style”. That kind of belief, that kind of faith – that’s what people mean. That’s what I never understood until now. I didn’t believe in the trust that people could place in some random person like me to bring something really personal to them to life, so here I am telling you; without you guys, I wouldn’t be here and I’m only able to do what I do because of you guys. Truly. I wish there were some way that I could pay you all back for this amazing thing you’ve given me in some form other than my digital art.

Maybe it’s just that though, maybe this art is all that you’re here for and once again, I am eternally grateful. So much so that it almost brings tears to my eyes (hell, even if I were bawling right now, you wouldn’t know). I don’t know when the day I put my pencil down will be, but the day that I do, I’ll be thinking of the first toon, the last toon and every single one of them in between. JTOONED has been a big part of my life these last 2.5 years and it’s hard not to reflect on that the most. Here’s to more cool toons!

I said the word “grateful” 4 times in this post. Just shows you how grateful I am. (6 times now).

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