A sudden realization struck me one day in Tokyo at the beginning of 2008, when the sky outside the window was hanging gray and low. As I was swiveling in my chair in the pleasantly warm office in front of my computer monitor, as the graphic design work on the screen that I had just completed sat in the screen lifelessly detached from me, it came to me that it was possible for me to spend my life working as a graphic designer in an office in Japan, earn a stable income and live a life that is completely content in itself; without following my dream as an artist.
This thought terrified the hell out of me.
I will always remember when I chose to be an artist. I was 6 years old with a big smile that revealed two big gaps where my baby teeth had been.
It was during art class period at my elementary school in Mrs.Lamb's class, where the kids were divided into 5 different groups. Each group was given a big cardboard-mounted print of a famous painting to reproduce on a letter-size paper with colored pencils.
My group got "Mona Lisa" by Leonardo da Vinci.
It sent the most electrifying bolt of white light that zapped blank my head-space.
I was suspended.
I heard my voice telling me "I'm going to be an artist like Leonardo da Vinci."
This, was the exact split second I decided to become an artist.
It will take multiple lifetimes to achieve anything close to a mind like da Vinci's, but this particular moment has always kept me on the path of art. I always loved to draw and wanted to become an illustrator, and along the way as I came to admire movies, theater, music and literature, I wanted to be a part of everything that pertained to the visual arts. At the age of 31, I am still very much haunted by my childhood conviction. Sometimes I felt that if I ever veered off onto a different path, I'd somehow be whipped back onto the artistic path by a force. I also didn't want to disappoint my child self if I ever traveled on a time-machine. Hence I've almost stubbornly kept my faith and loyalty to the voice I heard when I saw Mona Lisa.
In this lifetime, I want to be a creator of something that can be as everlasting and meaningful to someone, as da Vinci's painting is to me.
back in the swiveling chair at my desk in Tokyo.
As soon as I realized what my life can continue to be, I decided for good that I would go back to Los Angeles, go to art school, and dedicate myself to my dream.
9 months later, I was in Los Angeles.
Ready to start a new chapter.
(NOTE: I will actually go meet Mona Lisa in the Louvre, if I ever muster up enough courage to face my lifelong romanticism.)