Morung Express News
Dimapur | July 23
To paraphrase a line uttered by Professor John Keating from the dreary yet weirdly inspirational movie ‘Dead Poets Society,’ art, beauty, love—these are the things people stay alive for.
And the providers of these emotions that define humanity are the artists and the story tellers.
23 year old digital artist Thej Yhome from Kohima is one of them.
She started drawing at the age of 13 when she first watched Pokemon and fell in love with it.
Now she has her own comic book series titled ‘Carnaby black,’ is working on another MMORPG comic book titled ‘Server Legacy’ with a writer from Canada and does freelance projects for studios from India and abroad.
The Morung Express sat down with her for a conversation during the recently held Nagaland Anime Junkies (NAJ) Cosfest in Kohima.
“The kind of art I want to make is stuff that inspires people to go on adventures, discover new stuff and pay attention to the smaller things in life,” says Thej.
And this is reflected in her comic book series ‘Carnaby Black,’ which is available on Tapastic.
It tells the story of a young boy who is on the verge of losing his mother and moving to a new place. It has heavy elements of fantasy and magic and is a gripping read, with fantastic artwork.
“Mostly my art is me living vicariously through my characters. So it’s mostly adventure and fantasy. Stuff I want to really live,” adds Thej.
She also paraphrases Russian writer Leo Tolstoy who once said that wherever he went, whatever he did, he did not just throw away those experiences but kept them and included them in his works. “That’s why his books are so real,” Thej states.
“I like that. Travelling, meeting new people, experiencing new things to make my stories more connectable,” she adds.
Her beginnings as an artist involved drawing from 8:00am to 2:30pm nonstop under the desk in school. “The teachers apparently knew about it but never told me to stop. I think that was one of the major reasons why I improved so fast,” Thej fondly remembers.
She went on to study animation in Dehradun, but she never had any formal training as an artist, which is surprising considering the finesse in her work.
“Unlike other fields, in art and animation, they don’t look at your degree. As long as your art is good, they just look at your portfolio and if they like it they hire you. India has a lot of studios that need artists but there aren’t enough artists because our society is bent on the technical side. I actually get a lot of job offers that I cannot take because I have too much work already,” explains Thej on the career prospects of an artist in India.
She started earning through freelancing as a student. “That was a serious amount of pocket money, which was fun,” she states with a smile.
Her family has been very supportive as well, especially her father, who while expressing some apprehension, was happy to allow Thej to pursue animation. “When I was doing my 11th grade I talked to him. He wanted me to learn engineering. But he said ‘I’m worried about it but if you’re happy with that, then you can go ahead and try it. That was really nice,” Thej recalls.
On being asked how she approaches a project, Thej reveals: “If I’m working alone on a project, it usually takes a while for an idea to fully form.”
‘Carnaby Black’ in particular was an idea she thought of during her 9th grade. “It was just stewing in my head. I would talk to myself and come up with a new scene that I like. I would just throw everything I was doing and start working on that.”
Thej says that she has tons of notebooks with several little notes about scenes. “But there are like five pages in every notebook that I can actually use. I collect those stuff and put them in a chapter and start working on a proper chapter. The thing I’ve noticed is that if you don’t collect your ideas and put them in later, then when you’re writing your chapter it’s going to be very bland. It lacks some sort of inspiration.”
Asked what she finds most frustrating about her work, Thej replies: “My stories are very slow.” “When I first started doing comics I had no idea about the process. I just made this really long story with this huge amount of pages. Normally comics have 22-23 pages, and mine has 80. What was I thinking!” she exclaims.
Thej hopes to continue growing as an artist. “The impossible dream? I want to go and work at Disney or Nickelodeon studios. But that’s really far away. Right now I am content with where I am. I want to work harder, do animation in different studios. And since I’m lazy, one day I want to be directing instead of drawing pages after pages.”
To find Thej Yhome’s work, connect with her on Facebook at Thej’s Scarpbook and Karnivil_Doodles on Instagram. Her comic books are also up on Tapastic at https://tapas.io/episode/39319.
Watch the interview with Thej Yhome at the Skid Reviewer on YouTube