This is a very belated joint Mother’s/Father’s Day gift for my parents (I’m a terrible daughter). Love youuuu both~
EDIT. Fixed some mistakes, no biggie.
EDIT. The sketch.
This year, I decided to do something special for my 25th birthday. Instead of receiving gifts, I carried around a small black all-media sketchbook and some Sharpie pens so people would draw for me.
Someone thought I was super non-materialistic for requesting drawings instead of presents. Little did he know, I HELLA enjoy it when people give me doodles and I find some sadistic pleasure in how nervous others get when they’re drawing in front of me. #hehe
Above: This was on the first page. Excuse my chicken scratch. Some guidelines just in case but no one X’d any page, which is awesome!
Mike decided to draw me some turtles since I got him Pop! Vinyl figurines of all four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (his childhood favorite) for his birthday last year. He told me he hasn’t drawn in many years so his hand was shaking as he tried his best to recreate the turtles he used to be an expert in cartooning when he was younger.
He personally disliked what he drew but I love it and I love how hard he tried anyway for the sake of giving me something thoughtful as a gift. I also think for someone who’s a bit rusty, his drawing skills are still tops. People who flipped through the sketchbook oo‘d and ah‘d when they came across his sketch because it’s just that good.
Christina M., famous for her tiny-ass handwriting, drew her tiny-ass drawing with a mechanical pencil when we were at a gelato shop. A few days later, she drew over the sketch with a Sharpie pen and wrote down the various “awesome” aspects of me. She was so focused both times, her nose was practically pressed up against the sketchbook. She drew me and I super adore it! :^D She really nailed down all the details of me: how I’d often wear a pencil skirt, boots, tights, and this casual green plaid dress shirt. My ever-present cup of coffee and how I’d always grasp it with both hands. She even got my layered hairstyle right!
She was so (hilariously) offended when I stopped by her workplace and her coworkers, who saw her tiny drawing, commented on the ’emaciated figure.’
[More under the cut.]
I met up with Terrilynn Cantlon, an alumna from my college, in early May. I’ve always seen this amazing tour-de-force on campus — everyone knew who Terrilynn was — but I never worked up the courage to talk to her, despite knowing how open and friendly she is. During my last week in town before I made my big move to Los Angeles, I posted a status update on Facebook about how I was down to meet up before I leave, that no one would be bothering me, that I needed to take a break from packing anyway. Terrilynn was the first person to contact me to grab coffee together.
I mentioned it to her beforehand that I’ve been taking pictures of people, mostly friends, as my drawing references and asked if she would be interested in being a subject. I wasn’t going to make money off of these sketches, it was primarily for practice as I hadn’t been drawing since I graduated a year ago. Terrilynn immediately and excitedly agreed.
FYI: she gave me permission to use her full name and allowed me to mention in this post that she is a transgender woman. I also double-checked the following information she gave me with her before publishing my excerpt of her personal story. I think everyone in the world would be honored to get to know Terrilynn as she is just about the most interesting person I’ve ever had the pleasure of grabbing coffee with. A month later and I am still thinking about our conversation.
As I snapped pictures of her for the next 3 hours, Terrilynn told me stories about her life: how she worked as a software and hardware engineer for 20+ years in the Bay Area and was a bonafide expert in her field who was ahead of her time. How she lost her job when she transitioned due to transphobic prejudice. How she became homeless and had to use bathrooms and sleep next to ovens on the roofs of pizza parlors, to survive and stay warm. How she starved and was only able to stave off hunger by consuming free coffee and cookies at group meetings and eating $1.00 hamburgers. How she saved up enough money to go to Thailand to have her genital confirmation surgery while living in a van. How common an experience it was for her to get fired, find a second minimum wage job a few days later, and lose it just as quickly all in the same week because of transphobia. How she has been continually harassed for being visibly trans, having once been arrested for “Walking While Trans” and was incarcerated for 10 days without a lawyer or a phone call.
How she used her charismatic voice to work as a radio personality for a time, once causing employees at a Burger King to cry in recognition when they heard her speak. How she would give away her money to random people around her. How she eventually went back to school and became the valedictory co-graduation speaker at City College of San Francisco, later transferring to Mills College where she obtained both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees — as indicated by the beautiful graduation rings she proudly wore on her fingers. How she helped build up the Center for Academic Excellence on campus that provides academic assistance for writing students. How she, as an MA student was selected to present her paper at a Medieval convention in front of Ph.D doctorates and had charmed them so thoroughly, despite transphobic and sexist comments, that she has been approached and scouted by Ivy League schools to join their Ph.D programs. How she is now 54 years old, a rarity for a trans woman who, as she told me, statistically many do not live past their early-to-mid twenties, especially trans women of color who are hit hardest from systemic racism and violence in addition to transphobia.
At many points of our conversation (honestly, I didn’t even talk very much, I was just listening, blown away by everything she was telling me), Terrilynn stressed to me that because of all her experiences, she only wanted to live her life the way she wanted to. Even if there are risks. Even if she fails. She could skin her knees and hurt herself while trying to live her dreams and fly, but hey, she’s flying.
Thank you again, Terrilynn!
How I Did It: Like I did with Arun’s drawing, I sketched everything out with a mechanical pencil based off the photos I took of her and scanned them. I then uploaded the images onto Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 where I fixed up and rearranged any details. Using the same app, I colored the drawings and plugged in text. Contrary to popular belief, I didn’t upload the photographs onto Photoshop and draw out the lines that way — it’s just not as fun for me! I like working off of pictures. Fun fact: I used my laptop trackpad to color, not a tablet. Yeah…I know… >__>
I do own a digitizing tablet (from Bamboo, a gift courtesy of my boyfriend) and yes, I could’ve just used that or even a mouse instead of putting so much tedious effort into coloring with a trackpad. I actually haven’t taken the time yet to learn how to use one with a stylus (not a great excuse, I know) but I will do just that starting this month (sorry for the years-long wait, Mike).
This Probably Only Interests Me: I took photos of my month-long progress drawing Terrilynn. You can check them out under the cut.