BurpAvatars: The Case Study & Time to Retreat [JUN2016]

Leonie’s small blog island says hullo! (:

My dear reader!It is time for an investigation!!

What investigation you ask?

Well we’re going to see what’s going on behind the curtains on…


Did I learn anything?
Is it a dead project now?

So let’s get going, shall we? 😉

Let’s go ! Journal Time.

BurpAvatar Test Stickers! 😀
First time I tried printing stickers!
It’s hard guessing what people would like versus what you like at times so I stuck with the latter.
I gave these out to kind and amazing people around work!
It’s interesting that people went for the fanart or “glamorous” ones first! Note that these art pieces weren’t made with stickers in mind so some of them probably don’t suit as stickers?
Some were too scared to take my self portraits; but I didn’t mind because they’re so stylised :0
Keen to do it again someday so watch out for my twitter if you want!


Year 3, Month 6 (June)

Leonie Yue’s Sketchbook

SuperListenMode 16
Whoa there
SuperListenMode 17
Feeling the Miitomo influence
SuperListenMode 18
I don’t say much apparently
SuperListenMode 20
Some cycle I fall into .___.
Though sometimes things get lucky & disappointment becomes grateful joy instead ^_^
SuperListenMode 19
Relaxing in your mind palace
Away from all the noise
The Neverending cycle
Through thick and thin; you gotta believe!! >:D !!
PS: Yeah I totally draw by stabbing at the page!
Oh a kind gentleman pointed out, the “I am nothing” part is definitely too far! Working on & improving your work is a much better and healthier attitude than criticising yourself directly. In hindsight that line is probably more about my self confidence as a person at the time rather than the work itself. Whoops! :0
Some moments

TOP frame: I’m a Ghosttt! :0 The second banana/NPC! Though I really don’t know how to react when you accidently overhear a question like that. I tend to get sneaky curious: “ooh, who am I in their eyes and not mine”? :0

BOTTOM frame: You know who you are!
This is a general thanks to you for nourishing me with drinks & food when I was extremely poor, struggling & frugal!! It was a special moment of excitement and goodness <3
No, I don’t care if it was just a soft drink or a bit of chips D:
I’m still ignorant of “cool places to eat and cool happening places” & I still live like a hermit so I haven’t changed much haha
BurpDoodle Gift: for my bro!

All the Kirby & Rowlett silly fanart 😀
I gave him this to turn up the mushy-ness! Since we don’t often eat it often, fill him up with some junk food I got too haha 😉 Success!!

BurpAvatar Case Study: Storytime!

NOTE: I am writing this so that I can honestly look at things. Positive things, things I can improve on, my personal strengths, weaknesses and the silly feelings I had at the time. Sure it might seem like I’m super criticising myself but let me emphasise to you that I’m just putting it all out there to say that having doubts and fears during the process is normal. Just don’t let it hold you back! 😉 
I am actually pretty happy with this little project overall! All the learning! 😀
The Idea begins! :0
The “making portrait commissions” idea sprung from Tony C. during late last year as he genuinely wanted a proper portrait back then. At the time I was drawing people as usual and when I finally posted them individually thanks to Gritfish/John‘s suggestion, suddenly people seemed to want them.Of course, just saying you want a portrait (when I was doing it for free and out of fun during things I want to be at) is different from actually commissioning me to make one.

I wasn’t sure if I should even do this.
Who would pay for this? Maybe a couple of people?

Is a couple of people worth all this preparation?

Ultimately I said yes to myself during this planning stage.
I figured maybe I should go all the way with this little project.
At least I’ll get better at portraits?

I wanted to know where I stand and if I can take up this challenge as well.
I’m doing this for myself and for the experience.
It shall be a little cosy project.

The Beginnings, Research & Preparation
So as you may know if you’ve been reading this blog, this January I started to prepare for this project before knowing I would be working at Mighty.

I explored what other people did as I have never done personal and non commercial art commissions before. It’s difficult finding people who demonstrate their personal commission process with more detail. Most people I come across online have very straightforward and simple instructions (it works!) and if others had a more detailed process, they would do so privately (reasonable).

But all else is a mystery!

Of course I knew I still had to make my own process that works for me.
There is no 100% “one size fits all”! Or perhaps I’m just too stubborn to settle for what others were doing. Honestly I just didn’t want it to be *just* commissions. I wanted this to be my passion project too! I wanted both!

I also had to work out what art styles to do especially when I have art directions I haven’t tried yet (and still haven’t). And a lot of learning and practice was required on actually making finished portraits. What would the final portraits look like? I needed examples to show!

So I told people that I’ll be doing it and a bunch of interested peeps signed up! :0 “I guess this is a start of a new project! Let’s go!!”

For those new to my blog, you could see my struggle and progress in the past blog posts!

Getting a system & process going
I gave up on manually emailing people (human error and all that) so I sorted out a mailing list and one update email to send so I don’t bother people publicly who aren’t interested in one. I did a rough monthly plan on what I needed to get done towards opening commissions on April/May. Sorted out a dedicated tumblr and played around with what to show and take out as I changed things around.

I experimented with portraits in the past several months (see previous blog posts) as I look for something that works. I did giftart for Lauren too thanks to her life wife Katie’s help to test out art styles (also because I was grateful to Lauren for her generous support!! Plus I was sick of drawing myself)! 😀

So from January up until May, I got up to 27 people on the mailing list!
Yay a classroom of people so to speak!

I doubted that I was going to do 27 portraits but that’s still a considerable amount of people vaguely interested. It encouraged me to keep going at the least!

The Struggle with Style and Price
There was a huge internal debate on what style to offer and what price to offer.
I was switching all over the place.

Many times I just wanted to quit because I didn’t feel ready.
And it’s not worth my time, at least on the monetary vs time front.

Yet here we are.

I fought through it and picked out 2 and then 3 styles.

With the pricing, I found established artists who offered $20USD/$36AUD, $25USD, $50USD, $80USD to $100USD/$150AUD ish.

Even young and newbie artists ask for $5 to $10USD :0

I didn’t know where I fit! I kept switching prices in my head!

Artists have trouble valuing their own art as it is *puts my hand up* so putting a price on something you create is pretty difficult.

Fleeting worries floating in my head:

  • No one will commission this
  • I’m pricing too low
  • I’m pricing too high compared to other people; change it!
  • People will find this expensive
  • This is not worth my time and effort if this is going by an hourly rate
  • This is too low if I were actually just a freelancer; change it again!
  • Does anyone like my art style enough to commission me??
  • I have no interest in doing a certain style many times
  • Who would want this as their icon??
  • I’m pricing it wrong
  • Ahh this artist online is pricing it so low but they’re efficient and using a template to produce them in bulk during their spare time; but I’m doing everything from scratch to do something personalised! D:
  • Ahh this artist is pricing it higher but they’re offering character art from the hip upwards
  • Ahh this artist is pricing way high but it’s because it’s traditional art
  • Ahh this artist is doing loads of fanart but I don’t want to go into the legal grey area and I want to showcase real cool people’s portraits
  • No I don’t like doing this certain art style with a template; it’s too samey and not fun to do
  • How do I figure out how my art is valued from the perspective of the potential commissioner? It’s so subjective!
  • This internal struggle between what you need to survive/how much my time is worth, what needs to be cut out and what’s really important for me to leave in
  • *a lot of annoying my brother -as my soundboard- ensues*

So for art style & pricing finally I considered that: 

  • It’s my first time doing personal commissions
  • I’m not doing it from the small “social media picture” angle anymore
  • I am offering personalised and illustrated portraits
  • I’m providing full resolution illustrations for personal use and printing 3513px x 3513px at 300dpi as well
  • That I generally take 6-8 hours for a final portrait for a new person (if it’s a self portrait I can do it quicker since I’ve done it many times before),
  • That it’s non commercial in nature
  • That people who are interested aren’t loaded with money
  • That I’m not doing quick and cheap portraits, I’m doing my best for the sake of likeness of the person! :0
  • I’m probably going to under price myself to match somewhat with the market and whether I have demand. How much do potential commissioners value their own portraits?
  • I have to accept that pricing will be unfair for me for personal commissions because there is no tangible financial gain for them – it would be unreasonable to price it higher
  • People liking my tests on social media is just encouragement; doesn’t equate to the number of people actually commissioning and valuing their own commissioned portrait
  • I think most people won’t pay for my rate because they’re looking for a tiny cute avatar while my vision and enjoyment of making portraits involves personalised and illustrated portraits – not saying that I don’t enjoy quick portraits though! :0
  • I spend much more time on these than the fixed rate I’ve set (many artists seem to do this) so ultimately this is not about the money.
  • I’m striving to not make it simply a “give me reference and I’ll draw it” deal.
  • It’s more about getting an opportunity to learn all this and build my experience. To get a balance both getting paid for my work and time while doing and showcasing more finished and fun portraits for others. Personal small & fun project.
  • It needs to be fun for me with considerable creative control or it’ll be clear in my work that I don’t care – it’s not fair for anyone at this point!
  • There’s no right way to do this because it’s different circumstances for everyone
  • I learn how to make my own process for commissions with quality in mind and keep evolving this

So what did I quote?
Finally I stuck with $75AUD (which includes PayPal fees of a few dollars).

And many probably can’t afford that. Or rather, many people didn’t value their portraits that high as I did. I did fear that I was going to scare all the people off, hence my indecisiveness.However I believed in this quote because it’s still within the range I see other artists offer and I felt it was a good starting point for me to do personal commissions.

Hourly or Fixed Rate…they aren’t perfect

If I excluded Paypal fees, it’s generally $9-$10 per hour if I took 6-8 hours to do a new person’s portrait. Since I can safely say that I’m not completely a beginner artist, it’s not fair for me if I were to measure it on a per hour basis. Having a fixed rate made it more clear to anyone commissioning given that their needs are within the scope. So I opted for the fixed rate.I could have pushed for more if I were leaning more from a freelancing and business perspective. This is because generally this is not an acceptable rate if I were solely freelancing and yet I know that I can’t go too high when I haven’t done personal commissioned portraits before. Again I stress that there’s really no perfect way to do this when it comes to personal commissions.

A per hour basis or a fixed rate – both are not perfect ways to figure out quoting as you tend to be unfair to yourself (mostly it’s this) or unfair to your client (as personal commissioners are just normal people!)

Turn the tables: how much are you willing to pay for a commission?
For just personal use?

Generally you need to value your own time and yet also bring *loads* of value to your clients, more than its long term monetary value. And as you get better at it, you can quote higher due to your previous projects and market demand. All the same, quoting is difficult!

I learned that it’s a balance of how I value quality plus my time and energy on a portrait versus how people actually value a personalised portrait. The latter is more important in the end – how do your services bring loads of value to the table?And some artists generally react: “Whaaaaa?! D: I just want to do art!!”

Well me too but here you are haha

And that essentially answers nothing (that’s tangible) on how to quote haha
There are many sites that talk about this in better detail with great expertise so I suggest you to look into those with magical Google powers! Here is just my personal case study :0

For me, I just had to quote based on how low I’m willing to go relative to how much people are willing to pay.

That’s what it comes down to, in the end.

Without sacrificing quality. *Hugs it tightly*

Ultimately this alone is not a good and long term way to make a substantial living; quoting is something that doesn’t have concrete formulas because you need to keep refining your process. Especially for me when I’m not focused on speed or using a template (so I can’t do portraits in bulk) and I don’t want to price it too high either because I’m just doing personal portraits from the shoulders up.Sidenote! Every artist is different. Don’t blindly follow what other artists/creatives are doing without understanding their reasons why and the context! It may/may not work for you as well as it has for them. Hey, their situation and relationships and skill level and background probably differs from you.

Anyhoo, I have a comprehensive process with finished & illustrated high quality in mind so perhaps I’m not a good fit for doing personal commissions unless I break it down into just doing line doodles for others.

But who would want line doodles as avatars?
Most people want colourful things! :S


So I felt stuck on whether this was worth it anymore
I considered quitting so many times.
So many. Times.I felt that this frustration wasn’t worth it.
There’s so many other things I could be doing!
But I didn’t.

I refuse to give up on this project.

I have to at least give it a go!!

In the end, I still pushed through because I wanted to know if I’ll actually have anyone joining me with this little passion project. I want to see how far I can go!!

It’s also a way to appreciate the super kind people who like my art enough to be willing to go all the way! Super thank you!

And now I’m a case study; huzzah.

Hello. Is this your first time reading my blog? haha 😉

Letting people know that it’s open
Finally when I published my process to people on the list,
I broke things down from:

  • What BurpAvatars are (personalised illustrated portraits)
  • What I don’t do in terms of subject matter
  • Usage & Rights
  • Terms & Conditions with Payment and Revisions
  • What art styles are on offer and examples
  • What the commissioner gets & extra options (the tumblr profile post is complimentary)
  • The Price
  • My Art Process in brief
  • Commission Process in Brief aka what they can do next if they want to continue
  • Commission Form (aka assignment to complete) to email me
  • Final thoughts on the intention of the whole project

Made my intentions clear from the onset
It was to learn how to cater for personal commissions and figure this out for my first time! I also mentioned that if no one’s interested, so be it. I want this cosy small project to be fun for me too! :0

I think I succeeded in doing this at least as I look back now.

It’s boring and uninteresting to me and to others if this project was just about getting peer recognition haha

The real struggle was figuring out all the other things I rambled above…what could I consistently offer? How do I provide value? :0

Waiting for Responses…the silence! Then readjusting my focus

So things that happened when I published the above:
  • People who are interested are already on the list so posting publicly about the “Commissions Open!” newsletter was unnecessary
  • I should have changed my subject title in my email because it read “Due Sunday!” when it’s not; whoops!
  • One person unsubscribed within the day
  • I unsubscribed 5 people because they’re not even looking at emails or have missed them
  • The rest read my email and were silent :0
  • Then just the waiting game…and I distanced myself from it so if there’s no one, I won’t be as disappointed. I kept myself occupied!
  • Remaining 21 people weren’t that keen as just 3 people went ahead (:

Noted that people needed to take their time if they were keen because there was a Commission Form to do. Extended a couple of weeks time for some people to do their assignments after I got the first two spaces filled. It’s a passion project that requires some work on their end; teamwork!

Plus a few kind people signal boosted what I was doing! Yay!! 😀
Nothing happened directly from them but thank you all the same~!! I was happy that people glimpsed! Or something! (:
A few others seemed keen but I guess they changed their mind.
I respect that.
At this point I was guessing that I might do 2-4 portraits? Rough estimate.

I knew it’s definitely not going to be 27 people but I was happy that I had a few!
I refocused on doing my best on the special handful of keen people I had. A more manageable amount too!

Doing Official BurpAvatars: featuring Special & Amazing People!
Yay the actual arting, the actual thing I’ve been working towards!!

I spent the weekends doing these!

From sketches, lineart, blocking colours in, painting things, redoing it if it’s not working and then polishing.

In the end I spent at most 7-8 hours each.

Because likeness is important to me :S

Here we go, let’s feature the following awesome people:

Felicia Anne! @feztivus 
PR Account Manager, CEO of Empathy Games 
& Director of Australian Outreach for Girls Make Games (Full Profile Page here)
The Absolutely Glamourous art style!
Sidenote: She gave me loads of selfies and wonderful answers to her Commission form (:
This one took the longest as there were more things to keep in mind that speaks volumes about her and her personality. Plus I learned what “flanno” meant haha
She was wonderfully happy and kindly signal boosted me too; yay!! 😀
Linda & Ching!
Hey, a personal one for my 2nd cousin! (: The Super Toonerific art style!
Kept with the south/east asian eyes; I think they’re key features.
Tom Janson! @toomosjoonson 
Animator & Game Designer (Full Profile Post here)
Super Toonerific Style again! Determined, “I’m going to make stuff” face! :0

Reflection: What I’ve learned? The cool things!
It’s interesting what people’s favourite background colours are;
very much warm reds and purples for the most part! :0

I am VERY proud of what I did together with the above kind people.

It is not a failure but a success!

I did the best I could and it is great!
Let me make that known first before I talk about the whole journey of ups and downs.

Expectations changed

Admittedly, it wasn’t as big a project I would have hoped when I first started planning in January.

“I’m going to do cool portraits to showcase cool people! Perhaps I’ll get close to 10 people?!” was the initial drive.
Getting 20+ interested people on the newsletter was pretty encouraging too.

By the time I was finalising the process 4-5 months later, my optimistic hope for the project had already dwindled to the estimate of 0 to 2 people actually commissioning me for this. I was already thinking that it’s not going to go as far as I would have hoped and my gut feeling knew that it was just going to be just another learning experience.Which is fine.
I accepted this before doing the actual commissions.
When I finally sorted out my process I had zero expectations.

Learning about making portraits!
I’ve learned and am still learning about making portraits too.
And that there are some artists I used to think were amazing many years ago…they haven’t evolved much when I look at their recent pieces now. Increasingly I can now see the flaws in their artwork…

O___O; Have I become a terrible person and art snob?! .___.
Probably!! :0 Aw noooo!

On the other side of the coin, I deeply appreciate -even more- the artists who are incredible at what they do! How their pieces are so timeless and wonderful! And how they’ve evolved! :0

Thinking from the perspective of potential commissioners:

  • Doing personal commissions is hard when I’ve made it so comprehensive! I required the interested party to do an “assignment” or commission form to complete (:
  • Clearly I’m not “good/popular enough” whatever that means; I can’t pretend that not having a large audience doesn’t play a part here. Self fulfilling prophecy or not. 🙁
  • The ink and watercolour art style or animated avatar frames weren’t needed in the end – most of the people couldn’t afford the portraits themselves as it is (my assumption)
  • A few others seemed keen to do it but I respect their change of mind/lack of response; I’m not one to chase people down again and again! Disappointed definitely at first but I have to draw the line somewhere, stop waiting, get the message and move on.
  • The project was really allowing me to do illustrated portraits as I kept testing art styles but the BurpAvatars name (which stuck so I went along with it) perhaps gave the impression that I was doing tiny, cheap & quick social media portrait pieces? 🙁
  • It was difficult to do commissions through a newsletter as I took a period of 6 months to prepare and by then, many people have already lost interest and the price probably nailed the coffin. At least that’s my impression!
More Thoughts on Quoting in Hindsight
  • Again and again, is no “right” way to quote; it’s on a situational/subjective basis.
  • And the price was probably too high for most (I would assume)! I don’t know. Silence/unresponsive-ness/Apathy is ultimately a lack of interest to go through with it. Generalising here.
  • Quoting personal commissions is a combination of balancing between your situation, your interested peeps’ situation, time, costs, invoicing, revision amounts, commission and art process, complexity of subject matter, how *you* versus how *they* value the illustration, establish what art styles they would expect and explaining the whole thing so that we’re all on the same page.
  • The above point is why I took 6 months to prepare. I probably got weird looks because art commissions seemed simple. They usually are when you get the hang of what you’re doing and if you’re just doing the “give me reference and I’ll draw it” route. I didn’t need to prepare this much if I’m simply seeking money on the side. But I am not treating it as “just a job”. It’s important to me that it’s a team effort when establishing what kind of BurpAvatar I’d strive to do for a person. I guess this is why it felt wonderful having 3 kind people going ahead with the journey! (:

Working with cool people! Thoughts & things for me to do next time

  • These personalised portraits aren’t “in demand” by many but at least I didn’t get tumbleweeds! I got 3 wonderful people to work with instead!
  • I am definitely happy that a special handful provided me the opportunity to do portraits for them and signal boost them! 😀
  • If someone was just giving me 1 good reference and the rest are not photos taken specially for this project…that’s all I got to go on. 🙁 I can work with it because I make up the rest of it but it’s not ideal. Perhaps I need to be more strict on this for future projects.
  • I’ve gained experience on working on personal commissions!
  • My comprehensive process does work for me; it’s just not for everyone because my process not simply a “just draw this reference” commission.
  • When someone is on board with my comprehensive process and provides what I need, it feels so good and I get excited to do something awesome 😀
  • As with any art brief, there is a lot of anticipation and nervousness when you wait for people to react to their portrait/art piece that you’ve finished for them. Will they like it? Will other people like it? That’s why sometimes I avoid social media for a while during the publish date because…I’m a coward and I want to emotionally detach myself for a bit haha
  • Doing personal commissions is great for when you’re in a financially tight spot, you have the time to spare, when you’re still getting started with your art career and you enjoy the subject matter!

Figuring out Value: I couldn’t transform these commissions into a sustainable & growing passion project 
Aside from the 3 people who commissioned me, what people want didn’t seem to match with what I wanted.

The process definitely worked for me and those who commissioned me! 😀 But the project itself is not quick, cheap, easy and in demand in nature and hence it’s not a project that I could keep going. Not in its current state at least.

I sensed that people didn’t really want my 300% into the artwork when it’s not what they want or need. They didn’t seem to need the artwork for printing purposes, to put their portraits as part of their brand/promotional materials or extra animation frames.

They just wanted a portrait of themselves to use as a tiny social media icon.
That’s what they need. That’s what they value.

Yet I’m stubbornly putting all this effort into something they don’t need. I just wanted to make timeless (to the best of my ability) portraits so I could keep showcasing cool people along the way and that they can use them in a variety of ways beyond just a social media icon.

I intentionally went over the scope but I was keen to do it anyway.
I enjoy the arting. :0

Hey! It’s not about my self worth!
I need to keep learning! I want to stress that I’m trying to distance myself from taking all this personally (because making art is a personal thing when you’re in the moment of creating it).

Rationally I know that this is about what other people need and value and figure out how to solve their problem.

It’s not about me and my self worth. It’s not about my artwork, skills, experience or how long it takes me. It’s about working together on something that benefits both parties.

I knew this so I was hoping/gambling on whether I could find like-minded people.

I sorta think I did!
In the end, I found 3 wonderful people who enjoyed their portraits! (:

THANK YOU SO MUCH Felicia, Linda & Tom for being part of it!!

For the majority, I was pushing too far from the “passion project” angle.
I allowed myself free reign to figure out what I wanted to do for others.
I lost that balance with the reality of what *most* people wanted.

Ah well.

Who says I have to do what *most* people wanted?
It just means I won’t have a big, ongoing project. Not in this form at least!

I feel stronger since doing this project mind you!

Plus I ended up working with cool people! It worked out in the end for the three commissions. That’s what matters. (:

The Newsletter is Dead
My newsletter emails were probably too lengthy.
But I’m not a “quick/fast/impulse buy” commission art monkey.
I’m more of that extreme tunnel vision person.

Make something awesome together” kind of thing.

I guess it also allowed people who weren’t on the same page to opt out silently and those who were keen, to come along for the ride 😀

That said, now that this round is over I had 16 people left who did read but probably weren’t interested…

So I removed everyone from the list.

Yep. :0

Bold or silly move? I don’t know.
I guess I wanted to start anew!
I figured if people really wanted one, they would sign up again.

One new person actually signed up too! :0

And then I thought things over and changed my mind.

I removed the newsletter link entirely.
And notified the new person too because I appreciated their interest.


Well the answer lies in answering the next question!

Would I do it again?

I’ll be blunt.


I don’t feel eager to do it again.
At least not as “grand” and ambitious as I’ve made this passion project.

As I said, I took down the newsletter link.
I’m kind of burnt out from it.

My silly vision and meaning I had for this project pushed me this far but it’s not something I can keep doing given how much time spent so far and the lack of genuine interest I had to keep it running. If it’s not working, then I’ll keep going in a different direction. I’m not going to commit myself to something that’s not sustainable.

I do stress that it’s not solely due to the lack of interest but it’s the combination of many of the things I rambled above. Admittedly, I am somewhat discouraged.

As much as I enjoy doing it for people I appreciate or find interesting, it’s also because I do not want to be just known as the portrait artist in the long run.

Portraits are so fun to do though!! So to the next point…

If I were to do it again…
Someone needs to directly approach me, re-establish what they need and I need to re-quote. Something appropriately reflects the fact that I’m doing a fully illustrated portrait and not a social media avatar.


I need to make the commission and art process quick so that it’s cheaper? :S Small traditional sketches? Like what people do at conventions?

The “give me money and reference”
and then “here’s your art” approach that seems to work for most artists?

Gosh when I say it like that, I’m technically “a professional art machine” :0 Ah well I will figure out how to make it fun/exciting for me to do. 😀

All the same, people can just email me if they’re interested in collaborating in bigger projects. Honestly, we just need to be a good fit to work with each other 😉

I don’t know if I would want to keep doing non-commercial commissioned portraits of people in the future when people are giving stylised portraits for free/as gifts as well (me included)!

For others, it’s just a quick side freelance job for them.
Or they’re just building up their commissions to showcase as a freelancer (partially my reason!)
Or what they do when they’re in a financially dire situation.

It’s so hard to put value on personal commissions.

Terribly subjective to the person.

Was this project worth doing? 
Clearly there are 3 people who do value what I do and for that I am wonderfully grateful!! Happy they enjoyed their portraits! Huzzah! (:

I have proved to myself that BurpAvatars is a cool little project!

So I consider this my little success!
That’s what’s important in the end, that my three commissioners are satisfied! 😀

Oh what a learning experience!
I am proud that I didn’t quit and pushed through!

It was pushing my comfort zone somewhat and I was going up or down with it regardless of how well or badly received it is. It was a little scary and I have plenty to learn! But it was not enormously risky so it allowed me freedom to lean more towards the “passion project” approach.

Doing creative things is all about getting dismissed, ignored and doing what you believe in. Be willing to be terrible at it. You’re willing to suffer/get frustrated for it (to whatever degree you’re willing/able to take during the process of making it work). And still believe in what you do. That’s how you learn.

The real lessons of creating something 
It’s actually doing it, doing your best to make it work when you’re accountable and on the line. Then doing it better the next time.

If you think about it, I can generalise it as the cycle of creating something:

  • hopeful beginnings, research, goal setting and preparation,
  • testing new ideas,
  • struggling and failing during the iterations,
  • self doubt, obstacles and frustration
  • wanting to quit
  • fighting through more iterations and testing
  • finalising and releasing it as complete project
  • handling rejections/being ignored, feedback and little successes
  • doing & finishing the project(s) when people are on board
  • afterwards figuring what worked and what failed – what can be done better? What mistakes? What was embarrassing?
  • feeling empty inside, figuring out what to do next (me!)
  • Self motivation, self care & belief in yourself (even if no one does) so you can…
  • Keep going all over again! 😀
There’s probably cool visual graphs of this process out there!
Knowing that you’re not alone struggling with your own thing is reassuring too!
I digress. I need to move on.
It’s been 6 months.I need a break from this project.

Goodbye BurpAvatars…for now?
Who knows!
It might come back someday :0
I’m not completely quitting as it might come back in a different form.

Maybe it won’t. I’ll just let things happen organically.
Maybe as BurpPortraits so it’s more aptly named? Hm.

All the same, I’ll still do portraits when I want to 😉
Because I still enjoy drawing them!! 😀Hey if you have feedback to provide, fill in this Anonymous Feedback form so I know/gauge whether people are interested or what I can do better!)

Thoughts on doing personal commissions in general: 
I have no concrete answers (because there is none). But I hope my case study is of use to any fellow artists out there! It’s one of the many ways to start and build your freelancing career when you set up and offer your own personal commissions.

You could just do the “give me reference and I’ll draw it” route and go from there to get experience (a good & simple starting point). And you can work on your own project(s) too. BurpAvatars was where I tried to mix both into one.

Again, there’s no right way to start. It’s up to you!
There’s other ways to get started but it’s outside of the scope of this blog post. Do investigate that for yourself through other more experienced artists than me! (:

Do be self aware of your abilities relative to others and figure out what you can offer from there. Realise that there might be an inner voice that will resist and convince you to not do it, especially during times of self doubt and struggle.

It’s your judgement call on whether you’re biting more than you can chew. Cut the scope down to it’s core! What’s the really important thing? Or rather, what do you expect to get out of the whole thing? What if you’re not getting the ideal end result? Who can you work with to get it done more effectively?

And more importantly, what do people want from you?

If they don’t seem to want anything from you then you’re probably not ready yet or you haven’t found your niche. Personally I don’t know if I’m ever ready or whether I have a particular niche (cute, whimsy, colourful and bittersweet things?) :S

Just get going with something! And finish it! You’d learn anyway! :0

Like I have right here (:

Sidenote: doing commercial commissions is not covered in this post.
(Do seek other more experienced artists you look up to for this area)!


Conclusion: about Personal Projects
No one cares what you say or write or make.

No one cares about what you worked on.

People judge you based on the last recent thing you worked on so you gotta keep moving forward. Don’t let the past and insecurities hold you back.

They just care about what you can do for them and how well you respect their time.

What sort of result do you want to create?

Work backwards from there! Gogogo!

If you want to have control, freedom or any form of credit or recognition, you need to start and do it yourself and for yourself. Take responsibility for the results – good, bad, whatever they may be. Be willing to take the fear, misery, rejection, “failing” and mistakes. They’re your losses so who cares what other people think; they’re worried about their own things anyway too!

Embrace the rollercoaster journey because things don’t usually work out as you plan it to be (points at self).

And do it all over again. And again.
Because you enjoy doing what you do.

Remember to check with yourself and ask why you love doing this.

As for me, BurpAvatars is just another project and learning experience.
A whole bunch of mixed feelings on this ride! All the learning though! 😀

There will be more…once I figure that out. (:

Because breaks are important too!


Leonie Learns: Unity Slowly

Figured I needed to know the basics from the official Learn Unity site.Ultimate goal: Learn how to best make art assets for unity by understanding the “essentials”, functionality and limitations!

Making my own little game would be possible? But small steps! And I’d rather collaborate with someone good at programming for games! My focus is still (for many years to come) character design, art making & illustration (:

What will I make if I wasn’t worried about my lack of skill in programming and 3D modeling for games?
Adventure RPG or something with a strong and unique way of integrating humourous and charming narrative and gameplay.
Or probably something purely silly but really fun! 😀

Anyhoo, here’s some snippets of the tutorials I did:

I did the most newbie Unity tutorial; yay it moves!!

Same tutorial but in 2D! :0
Added a ‘secret’ message haha; this game is SO GOOD
I scribbled in the art assets as fanart 😉

I did a bit more but it has copyrighted Kirby art assets as a placeholder so I’m not showing those!! I shall document snippets of my silly progress here so I can also encourage and reassure my future self that I’m not going nowhere :0


The past month: Time to Retreat!
If anyone noticed/was wondering, I was/am at the point where I just want to take a break from spending so much time on doing BurpDoodles on a regular basis and make it a random and special basis.

I want to put my focus on learning all the things once again. This is because doing regular BurpDoodles currently tends to be my way to procrastinate.

Stahp that Leonie!

As much as I don’t want to be typecasted by the comics because they’re not the only kind of art I do, I’m going to allow the SuperListenMode comics to be regularly posted. At least for now since they are easy to do and provide me a way to express my silly and personal happenings of my mundane life.

Plus most people don’t read these long blog posts haha
(You’re different of course, shhh I especially appreciate you 😉 ! )

I also put this out on facebook last night:

I’m already a huge lurker online mind you! It’s working as long as I keep the desire for social validation and encouragement under control.

In a way this is a reminder to others and to myself that I want to keep myself accountable on not allowing social media to become my timesink. I’m also cutting out a lot on YouTube too…limiting how much I watch gameplay videos too! Gosh! It’s serious now!! :0

Yep. Rambled about this before many times

Selfish as it sounds, I guess I’m just trying to protect my time. 
And protect myself from feeling empty inside from using too much social media.

You just can’t help but compare yourself with what other awesome people are doing and because I am someone who usually lives like a hermit and don’t really live like most people do as it is, it unconsciously gets to me over time. I’m not proud of it; sometimes gets to the point where I’m just insecure and sad about myself when I’m on social media. I don’t feel like I fit in.

That feeling of both connectedness and isolation at the same time.
Note: I definitely understand that everyone feels the same sometimes & can’t really 100% fit in either. Who really can?

Knowing that there are people out there who choose not to use facebook is comforting…but I can’t quit because at this point it seems like I will simply lose “friends” this way as there’s no other “convenient” way to keep in contact. So I lurk and respond to others more than I “get myself out there and stalk everyone”.

I don’t really want to stalk everyone as it’s too much to handle! I’d rather learn about happenings in person which is hypocritical of me to say because I don’t really talk about myself much in person but I definitely do here online D:

I can’t quit social media in general since I’m a quiet hermit (in person) and lurker (online) as it is already. Many creatives keep connected this way too so it’s difficult to completely avoid it all together…so I shall manage it this way.

I don’t really have much of an internet plan on a mobile device either – intentionally so. I’m keeping myself from too many distractions and have already established some boundaries when I’m out and about. I don’t always tweet/record what I do in life! Privacy stuff!

Much personal ado/ramble about Social Media & Friends
Note: I’ve rambled many times about this before. It comes up usually whenever I’m currently feeling/dealing with it (if I must spell it out haha). 

I did this image post because I’m judgmental (haha aren’t we all to some degree?) and I didn’t want to give the impression that I was being intentionally rude and harsh on a personal and direct level. Keen to interact online & slowly get to know people all the same though! I’m cool with acquaintances and saying hello! I just had to give the heads up again that I’m not active as I seem to be.

And if I don’t know you that well yet…we’re probably aware of each other and at an acquaintances level. I’ll have to warm up to you first and I’m a turtle at this! It needs to be organically, slow and mutual! :0

Especially when I’m so quiet…it’s difficult as it is to warm up to anyone haha

Increasingly, I don’t want to let simply everyone into my small circle of friends/acquaintances either. I don’t think people can be good friends with all 1000-5000+ of their followers/friends! :0 I’m always amazed at how people manage at those high amounts!

I don’t have many friends, well those whom I can truly depend on during tough times. Me being stubborn on being emotionally self reliant is a huge part in this because now that I look back, I’ve been consistently disappointed on the emotional support front during my upbringing within my family, excluding my brother. Admittedly it’s my defense mechanism — to keep myself emotionally distant until I feel like I feel safe, comfortable and that I’ve warmed up to you (built over a long period of time spent together) and my surroundings. I am aware of this :<

People do come and go, true…but at the risk of sounding harsh and closed-minded: if I don’t feel a good amount of respect, common ground and especially connection with someone after a considerable long while, I let people go and maybe even let new people in. Online and/or offline.

And this cycle continues when you take a chance, it either works out or doesn’t for some reason or another. And after accepting this, you do things over again when you’re ready. Sometimes my conservative, jaded and protective self (who argues that disappointment, getting rejected/ignored/hurt is a given) clashes with the little kid in me (who wants to be hopeful, reach out to people and try something).

It’s silly that when you’re surrounded by awesome people with lots of influence, friend circles, online presence, emotional intelligence and experience, you don’t feel like you belong. So you have to pretend you do! Plus for me have little to say when I’m just learning about things – I’d rather talk when I know what I’m talking about first (or at least get prepared!) D: They probably don’t know 100% what they are doing either…how do they manage everything though? :0

Ah the wonderful learning experiences life provides when you take little risks and act like a fool sometimes!

We all grow, change and converge/diverge into similar/different paths…
it’s what makes life ever more interesting, isn’t it? (:

Now in person: I’m too boring to be good company
Not saying this because I want you to make me feel better.

Seriously. (:

Usually I just see the pattern:

  • me meeting/hanging out with new people,
  • I had a good time because they were great to be around but I was quiet the whole time or said very little about myself because I was listening & learning about them
  • never/not really hanging out again after that as novelty is gone(?) & I’m just boring? Didn’t talk much to actually connect? I probably didn’t visibly show interest enough? :<

I’m sure it happens to you too! Or sometimes. It happens. :0

Self Confidence…!
I need to keep working on my self confidence in general! I usually find myself valuing others’ viewpoints more than my own because I aim to learn and feel like I’m imposing otherwise. Unless directly asked a question, I’m usually a relaxed listener. I could probably practice asking questions more so that I don’t have to talk too much about myself haha.

The cycle of “I’m boring” also feeds into the “I’m not worthy to bring something valuable or entertaining to the conversation”.

Small talk…I’m weak at. And so I end up only talking when things need to get done, when I realise I’ve made a mistake so I must mention it or I’m genuinely interested in something so I can’t help but speak up.


Not sure how to be “interesting”
I keep finding that I’m rarely interested in pop culture because I’m not exposed to them and choose not to get distracted by everything going on. I note that I might have burnt the common ground bridge to ashes because of it. I’m not always interested in what people are passionate about. I struggle to relate to others because I’m such a hermit outside of work. And I don’t drink and I find night time social things boring because I can’t do small talk let alone at loud places .___.

Perhaps I need to do more “exciting” things? Maybe others noted my disinterest/ignorance/confusion even though I’m pretty happy to listen to them talk about their favourite things & learn from them anyway when I’m able. :S

And the thing is, I don’t want to be like other people & copy what they like.
I aim to be myself and evolve from there…I won’t pretend I like something but I’ll give things a chance by learning though!

Embracing the boring
Since I’m already learning to embrace hermit life, I guess I’ve been trying to embrace my boring-ness and turn it up to the max all this time? Whatever that means? :0

I’m just the crazy rambly/quiet, invisible, reserved hermit person who just focuses on creating and learning art things for work and outside of work.
Watches/plays games & animated movies sometimes.
Writes long and personal blog posts when everyone else are doing face-cam vlogs, streams, shows, facebook events or instagram pictures.

I have no clue about good food, fashion, celebrities or trends and I don’t drink
And I don’t plan to have so many interests at once! I prefer to get deep in one or two things at a time! :0

Gosh typing all that just yells “pathetically one dimensional” or “stubbornly dedicated” haha All I know is that if I were to be compared with someone else terribly skilled and they’re also really entertaining and sociable, they would probably be the more liked/popular one. Or what the internet calls them: “Rockstars”. And I’ll just disappear into the wall like a “wall-flower” hehe.

I stress that it’s not about them!! I’m drawn to them too for the same reasons! :0 In turn I do wonder during my low moments whether I should pretend to be like that even when I don’t feel like it (those who do this are highly emotionally intelligent!!) When I do, it doesn’t work as intended but pushing the comfort zone and taking little risks are needed for any growth to happen!

Then I read about Emotional Labour
I stumbled upon it via a friend and realised that unconsciously I’m still caring too much about what others think on a social/emotional intelligence front. :S

That I’ve been raised that my thoughts, self expression and ideas are unimportant to the point that I’m so used to listening, being grateful for any kind attention and following direction. In turn I become really protective with whom I interact with because otherwise I grow to care about their feelings and desires more than my own so I stay silent about myself and keep myself emotionally distant at least at first. Generally outside of the home I take things slow, stay positive/neutral about things and give the benefit of the doubt.

I’m learning to balance with how much I should care. I’m at least aware of these conditioned habits but all the same it will take a while for me to trust and warm up to people :S That’s what other people do, right? They grow more wise and less fazed as they get more experience. Roll with the punches! 😀

Plus who has time to *worry* about how other people are doing seemingly “much better” than you anyway? (:

Perhaps I should pretend I belong (as inspirational people say), try some new things and then let things organically happen. Eventually the faking will become real; practice and growing to care less about what other people think! >:0

Gosh it’s scary that I’m sharing this at all but hello!
I’m not a perfect human being >.<;
At the moment I feel cool with sharing here but not really in person :S

Sure I don’t have loads of things but I also have a lot of things I’m grateful for! I’ll keep striving to grow into a better person!

Knowing that things will be okay no matter what is reassuring (:

My version of “interesting” is…being awkward & silly laughing
Hm I do have a deadpan face sometimes when I’m really feeling just fine. I’m probably just tired & energy conserving. :S

Perhaps I’ll find my own way of being “interesting” and “entertaining”. :< I shall find my own ways of gaining self confidence & find common interests! I’m working it out! I know I default to listening, quietly feeling drained…or zoning out. D: But I’ll eventually get there. I don’t want to be labelled and typecasted as “shy” forever! I’ll just wrestle with my weaknesses in the meantime.

And ask silly questions even if they seem like common sense.

And just talk when I feel like it. Conversely getting pressured to talk on the spot sometimes makes me freeze in paralysis instead. If I’m with people I’m fully comfortable with, then that’s all good however haha I’ll just ramble 😉

And be okay & move on if no one responds to you; it happens to everybody!

And just nervously laugh and be silly and ramble to release that energy haha
I think that’s my bad attempt at being sociable hoho
Embracing the awkwardness & discomfort!! :0

And go to more social things at my own pace when I’m not sick!

Yep…you can see why I’m doing SuperListenMode Comics. 😉

On SuperListenMode Comics

Another social media post I did! :0

I put this message out because a kind soul was concerned on Facebook. Then I was worried whether I should stop posting them particularly on Facebook because I thought I was making people sad or concerned about me :0

In turn I was encouraged and supported to keep going! I am so glad I did this post! <3 Ahhhh!!! 😀

I guess trusting my gut feeling that I shouldn’t care about what people think worked out :0 Either way, honestly I was going to keep posting them anyway through my other channels or at least here because I still have a backlog of 2 months or so. I’m stubborn like that 😉

From an artist’s perspective, I am branching too far off by putting out all these SuperListenMode comics as they’re the opposite of the designed and illustrated pieces I strive to make. They’re just scribbles and the quality is not consistent yet; still figuring it out.

But SLM comics are undoubtedly personal to me too.
People can unfollow me if they’re tired of them I guess!

Am I a fool for not making happy, inspirational, pretty, “shareable” and “marketable” things that everyone connects with all the time?

Then so be it!! I do believe deep down I’m at the point where I don’t really care what other people think when it comes to personal projects. Otherwise I wouldn’t be doing BurpAvatars in the first place; I would have quit during the planning stages and this Case Study wouldn’t exist! Same goes for this personal art journey blog! If there’s good feedback, all the better too! 😀

Digressing. I must be weird because I relate to Sadness lots in the Inside Out movie only because I embrace the sadness as it comes, acknowledge and understand it and I move on from it. All the learning!

I don’t believe I am completely depressed or negative…I work towards improvement & appreciate what I have! That gives me hope again. (:

It’s just that the comics sometimes represent the dark and sad side and I am not ashamed to post them. If it helps: I’m okay, I’m not being mean to myself! It’s an outlet for me! (:

All I know is that I need to retreat a bit more. 

I have the “I want to hide away from it all” like a lonesome bear keen for some hibernating. Like a hermit wanting to make a journey to the mountains for some spiritual self searching. Like a frog stuck at the bottom of a deep well, wanting to experience the world beyond the small part of the skies it could only see.

I want to learn things (like I have started with Unity here) and then talk about it in the next blog post.
Maybe I’ll ask for help by then too. :0

Instead of working out the next BurpDoodle on a regular basis, I want to go back to the schedule of doing monthly mega art posts for a while. Except now I have SuperListenMode comics as my biweekly thing so that I’m not completely dead to the online world. 😉

I’m focused on learning and showing my progress in this blog! :0

I’m going to focus on my strengths, rather than worry and get too distracted about my weaknesses!

Oh about BurpTalk
Hey, it’s fun to tweet things I find interesting in my own little separate micro BurpTalk twitter blog but I’ve decided to revert it back to auto tweets for my Youtube videos. :'(

Meanwhile, doing random let’s plays definitely allows me to try games I wouldn’t usually have played, allowing myself to ramble aloud sometimes (I can talk! le gasp!!) and it’s so cool when someone watches it! And it feels wonderful to support cool people by playing their games at my own expense & shenanigans. It’s also one of the ways left I have to connect to other people. Aside from art & personal rambles.

But it’s not a commitment or side hobby project I can keep consistently. I do not want to be an actual games/movie reviewer or let’s player so I should probably let this go as an “Official regular project”.

If videos happen, it’ll happen and it’ll update through Youtube or the BurpTalk twitter as usual (I’ve got backlog for July because I’m sick)! Plus there’s PAXAus or UniteMelb games too! Otherwise, it’s been a good run.

I may/may not make videos on a random “if I want to” basis! Who knows! All I know is that I want to stop doing this as a regular thing and get back to focusing on just learning art (:

Regardless, I’m still hoping to play the Maid with Love demo in a video when it’s ready! Perhaps it’ll be the last Let’s Play for me! 😉

Similar to the Oatmeal comic that creativity is like breathing…

I’m trying to find myself again…
what am I doing next?

Miifoto of my internal battle!! >:0 !!
Note, this image is composed within Miitomo using its art assets, not mine!

Figuring out how to push my comfort zone further and embracing the fear.
I’m slowly sorting out personal realistic goals, breaking them down and working from there, don’t worry (:

Let’s just say I got things to do and figure out so watch this space! :0

Gosh I’m feeling pumped! AW YEAH!! 😀

Clarifying Priorities too with Health & Diet
Aside from learning all the things about art making, cherishing the few friendships I have and working at being a better person…I’ve gotten lazy on the health side! :0

Why? I don’t have a crutch to give me the excuse to be lazy now.

Things are cool and alright at the moment and I want the whole process of getting healthier make me feel even more positive about things on a physical and emotional level! About life! I want to regain some energy, happier attitude and excitement please! I want to strengthen my body! Eventually I hope to not need sleeping tablets (I’m not using them daily at least)! 😀

I am waking up and sleeping earlier bit by bit though! I have been doing hand/arm dumbbell exercises at work and building that up again. I’m also minimising soft drinks and sticking with no alcohol & no caffeine. Caffeine shall be a rare thing. And some other habits and nutrition goals I won’t bore you here about. (:

I’m also slowly figuring my own workout that I can stick to. Without going to the gym but using my own bodyweight instead. Waiting for some basic equipment. Trying to figure that out. :S I was so sore during my first workout nuuuu ~.~;
My first week doing it felt good but I ate some junk that week because I had to get rid of the remaining snacks I had…oh dear!

Plus I’m sick right now so…nuuu D:

Mentioning it here keeps me on record! I *have* to say how I progressed in the next post! Break out of that laziness bit by bit! :0

Hey. Do take care of yourself…your body will remember all the unhealthy habits you’re doing to your body. You will suffer for it when you get older as my late mother told me. I hope you’re doing much better at taking care of yourself than I am! 😀

Oh…my birthday happened in June too. Gratefulness!
I did nothing special for myself but I gave stuff during my Bro’s birthday :0

And I got sick with the cold the day before because I stayed up late and had no heating in the freezing house I so…

Woo first time I got sick this year! haha

What a birthday present to myself, feeling cold, miserable & sick haha
I was hoping to avoid it altogether and get a record of no colds for a year!!

But alas. It’s a cold that will pass…I hope! (:
I usually give warnings when I get sick so that people keep away; I don’t want to spread suffering upon others :0 I stayed/told to stay home at least so that the worst of it doesn’t happen at work!! But I didn’t know what to do at home as a workaholic so I played some games for BurpTalk to distract myself 😉

Anyhoo I am grateful for so many things;

  • Despite most people not knowing it was my birthday, I still got some online birthday wishes; yay! It’s the closest I get at celebrating birthdays nowadays haha.
  • I don’t express it well (because I’m so “noisy & talkative pfffft” but like a broken record: it’s wonderful getting to work around cool(er) & kind people (:0!!) I just don’t know how to small talk with them well haha
  • being able to annoy & depend on my buddy brother (hehe)
  • being able to have the room to struggle and consequently learn like I am right now with art, life, health, friendships and socialising :0
  • I have shelter and food!
  • I wake up feeling positive or a relaxed kind of neutral everyday. 😀
  • I’m working on self improvement
  • I get encouraged when people interact with me in person and online

Writing all of this helps end this ULTRA long post on an even more positive note!

Note that others do personal daily gratitude journals which gets more specific and should be more private. As for me, the above gratitude dot points are more efficient for me as I talk about the whole month 😉 haha hey! I type a lot as it is already!!

If you’re not doing gratitude journals already, do try it for 7 days in a row.
Or even if it’s just for today to cheer yourself up.
Save up all the kind words you get in the coming month even! (:

Then you realise that there’s people out there who support you and you didn’t even know it! Don’t be like me because I tend to forget & focus on the things to improve on for the present and future haha

Don’t give up on yourself, yo!
Be and stay kind to yourself! :0


Thanks! Keep adventuuuring you!
This blog post! Gosh! You made it!!
Is this the longest I’ve written?! D:

I can say BurpAvatars in the past tense! Woo!

Let us be grateful for all the things we have right now.
June has been a crazy month of both saddening & encouraging events.

Cheers to new beginnings of July and thanks for your wonderful company!I hope you’ve learned something too from my experiences thus far!
Maybe! I hope I am helping a bit!

Anyhoo, see you around you kind soul!

I’ll do that when I get better from this cold -__-;
I used up too many tissue boxesss nooo

Do take care (: