Today we’d like to introduce you to Jessie Lee.
Jessie, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
It all started with a thought, a thought that I felt was unattainable for a beginner artist like me. However, as the years progressed, that thought slowly transformed into something that was more within my reach. Ever since high school, I dreamed of setting up my own table and being a part of a community with artists who support and inspire one another. It wasn’t until recently that this specific desire sparked a sense of realization: I could make it into a reality.
Since childhood, I have always loved art because of its freedom to express almost anything one’s heart desired. However, I didn’t actively begin focusing on my art until late high school. Japanese animation and manga were the first to capture my interests, especially the modern ones. Not only was it their dynamic aspects and unique character designs, but the story they held as well. Most of their stories were relatable to me as they taught valuable life lessons, urging me to keep moving forward. Eventually, this interest led to a more serious mindset. I researched many art tutorials, asked my friends for constructive feedback, and took a chance to showcase my art pieces to the public through places like Deviantart, Instagram, Etsy, and Facebook. With this hard work, I gradually obtained followers and commissions.
Unlike those who knew they wanted to become artists from the get-go, I was different. My humble origins began as a business major, but nothing felt right. I found myself constantly gravitating back towards drawing in order to relax myself. A year later, I decided to take a leap of faith and switched to studio art graphic design. I would never come to regret that decision. The next four years after that were an experience of a lifetime. I graduated from University with a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art with an emphasis in Graphic Design. It was a hard struggle to further my career then, but two years later, I became an art teacher at a children’s art studio and have learned so much. If it wasn’t for my coworkers’, friends’ and significant other’s support in my art, I wouldn’t have had the confidence I have now to stride towards my goals and turn my dreams into a reality.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It definitely has not been a smooth road. The artist path has arguably been the most challenging part of my life, full of downs with few successes. During college, I applied for the BFA Graphic Design program – one of the more prestigious programs on our campus – only to be rejected. This wasn’t surprising as I knew I couldn’t compare to the other applicants. After college, I applied to a tremendous amount of graphic design related jobs, but I received minimal responses, if at all. I took on a few freelance opportunities, but unfortunately, finding more clients was much harder than I originally anticipated. It was then that I started to lose a bit of hope, as the full understanding of just how competitive my field really hit me.
My optimistic viewpoint started to waver, and I soon came to understand the true meaning of, “it’s not what you know, but who you know”. While I was able to continue my freelance jobs, I no longer felt as fulfilled. I began re-questioning my competence and art skills, which led to lowered self-esteem. I nearly even gave up on art at one point and considered other career paths. However, once again, I found myself coming back to it, but before I could pick up art again, I knew I had to do some soul searching. I came to the conclusion that if I couldn’t find something I could do, I would weed out the things I absolutely did not want to do. To me, anyone can think of what they want or don’t want to do, but no one could ever truly know if their perception on it is true. They must experience it first.
As a result, I considered other possibilities within the art area and the first idea that came to mind was working with children since I have grown up taking care of my siblings. Thus, through a stroke of good fortune, I found a children’s art studio and immediately applied. Since then, everything in that studio has been such a rewarding experience. I can see the children grow as artists as well as finding more about themselves. Their struggles and accomplishments are reflective of my own journey and remind me how much I loved art as a kid. Not only this, but my coworkers have been very supportive and have motivated me to begin my own art business. Never in my life would I have thought this would happen, but it did and I have all my ups and downs to thank for it.
We’d love to hear more about your art.
Originally started through a dream and has recently come to fruition, my business name is called Ariean Dream. I wanted a name that was cute and encompassed my brand, however, I knew that something that was merely “cute” wouldn’t last, I needed to make it more meaningful. So, I looked up astrology and zodiac readings that would represent myself and I fell on a perfect sign – an Aries. According to astrologists, Arieans are passionate, motivated, and confident people who are optimistic and have relentless determination towards their goals. This is who I am and how I wanted to brand myself.
I started brainstorming and making some merchandise in March 2019 and officially opened my Etsy shop in May. I started off with stickers depicting popular animes, and even some coasters to try and make my shop stand out! I mainly specialize in a “cute” art style ranging from chibi to food-inspired creations. I plan to branch off into different areas soon as well. My merchandise contains stickers, button badges, keychains, coasters, and much more!
What I am most proud of as a company is a fact that I finally took that initiative to achieve my dreams while having the honor of enjoying the process and the journey it took to come to it. I hope that through my story and experiences, I will both continue to be inspired by all the other talented artists out there and inspire those who want a similar path. I want to also encourage other young artists who are just starting out that everything you do, as long as you don’t give up, will be worth it. Life is a scary path, especially when it is riddled with the unknown. But what we continue to fear will hold us back, especially when we don’t do it. Take that step; take that chance. Life is a learning process that doesn’t begin until we decide we truly want it.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
My plans for the near future are actually coming to fruition soon! I have recently been designing enamel pins and will be introducing them to the public hopefully within a couple of months or so. I also will be attending more conventions soon, in fact, I have finally been able to obtain my first ever table at Otaku Market Gathering (O.M.G) at The Source OC in Buena Park, CA. This will be very new for me as I feel ecstatic about meeting all my customers in person, conversing with fellow talented artists, and allowing myself more exposure.
In terms of what I have planned for the far future, I eventually want to head towards drawing more original designs and characters instead of mainly fan art. I also hope to look into other types of merchandise and see what I can do from there!
- 3″ Vinyl Stickers: ~$3-5
- 1.25″ Buttons: ~$2-2.50
- 2-2.5″ Acrylic Keychains: ~$10-13
- Website: arieandream.com
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/arieandream/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/arieandream/
- Twitter: http://twitter.com/arieandream
- Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/arieandream
- Other: https://arieandream.deviantart.com