Day 1

Wow, already it’s starting to blur together so I’m going to write this down quickly! Sorry if I left anything out Dx

We woke up early on Friday, got dressed in regular clothes, and drove to Embassy Suites to get there around the start of load-in time, which was about 8 AM. When we first went in, we didn’t bring anything much with us because we still didn’t know where my table would be. Assuming that it would be in the hallway, which doubled as the Artist Alley (logically) that almost looped around the whole con area, we looked at each table, but didn’t find my name. It turned out that I was in the smaller of the two dealer rooms!

On one side was a fellow first-time seller, Victoria, and on the other side was Pete Ellison, who was also a featured guest as a DJ. The whole middle of the room was taken up by a clothing vendor, and at the back of the room was LittleKuriboh’s table (and, as I later found out, Eric Stuart’s table was also there).

The arrangement was definitely orchestrated by God just perfectly, because I was able to feel a little more at ease not being the only artist in the room selling for the first time, and because Pete helped us out a lot with advice and more, and we ended up helping him out too, as he needed to borrow things like scissors, tape, etc. ^^

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This was when we were first getting everything out, so of course it didn’t stay this way, and I didn’t take a picture of how it ended up… But one of each print got put in one binder so they could be browsed easily, and the prices were paired up with their respective specials. (Behind the table is my brother and my mom.)

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Our tablemates Victoria and Nicholas. It was cool; Victoria brought her laptop, tablet, and printer, and the first and second days she was drawing on the laptop a lot of the time. When she was done she would just print out her picture on the spot! My mom and I thought that was pretty cool. It’s also neat to watch other artists draw ^ω^∩

I was extremely nervous when the room opened at 12, as people began to filter into the room and I started praying silently. Unfortunately by this time I had a dull headache that was intensifying…and it only got worse as the day went on, with the room and the hallway getting very warm and humid due to all the body heat packed into that space. It was a good thing my mom had bought those little fans! We certainly used them! I managed to survive (surely with God’s help–I have no doubt!!), until the Dealer’s Room closed at 7 PM.

I received so much positive feedback regarding my art up-front, so it was very encouraging as the day went on, even while I was trying to mask the headache. It was amazing how every time someone came by to strike up conversation, the headache sort of…receded enough for me to focus clearly and give my full attention. It was definitely a blessing!

My brother and I left the room a few minutes before Eric Stuart’s first panel was set to start (Eric Stuart is the voice actor for Kaiba in YGO!, James and Brock in Pokemon, and many other things), and thankfully I was able to cool down a bit in the room where it was held, so I felt better and could fully enjoy it! (Funny bit of info–all the panels we wanted to see were in the same room!)

…Everything else is a bit of a blur, because I really started feeling miserable even after eating lunch. ^^; But there are two things that stand out very clearly, so please allow me to mention them for a moment! (`・ω・´)”

The first is that two girls commissioned me! <- That’s the very short version of the story. We actually talked for quite a bit; at least it felt that way! It made me happy. ^^ Here’s the thing though: I hadn’t even had my “sign” for commissions up because I hadn’t intended to do them until the next day. They asked me. And then, on top of that, they both wanted the commission done so they could have it signed by their favorite voice actor(s). To me, that was just so amazing. To think that someone would choose me, out of all the other artists there, to draw something so they could have it autographed. I could scarcely believe it. It makes me teary-eyed even now. (´;ω;`) I’m just so happy to have had the opportunity to do that for them… And this story continues!

The second thing is that near the end of the day, as I was really close to fainting, to be honest ^^;, a lady talked with us for a bit, and upon noticing how hot we seemed to be, walked to the back of the room…and then came back with a cup of ice-cold water and handed it to me. Let me tell you, that was such a tremendous help I couldn’t even express how grateful I was. I had my own water with me, but it was room temperature and actually seemed to make the headache worse, and I hadn’t considered the water station at the back of the room because again, I had my own water. But really, that stands out to me so much because…wow, I just really needed it and the woman was kind enough to not only notice, but to actually try to help. If you ever read this, thank you so much again!

Other memorable things that happened:

-I got to see someone whom I haven’t seen in about five years; an old friend you could say!
-I accepted my first ever card payment all by myself while my mom and brother were off eating lunch. Since the Paypal card reader we had gotten ended up not detecting any card swipes when we tested it, we had left it at home and so I had to manually enter in the card number and all, but everyone who had to wait while I did that was very kind and patient; thank you for that!

My coordinate for the first day:

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Blouse & skirt- Goodwill (the skirt was modified by Nana to fit me because it was way too big)
Stockings- Target
Hair accessories- Forever 21
Shoes- Off Broadway Shoes

This coordinate isn’t my favorite; I’d like to have it more balanced. But with the small budget we had, overall it’s not too bad. (Besides, I was sitting behind the table most of the time!)

My mom’s coordinate:

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Blouse & skirt- Goodwill (the skirt was modified by Nana to fit her because it was too big)
Socks- Target
Shoes- Off Broadway Shoes
Hair accessories- Nozomi Takasu of Takasu Design (I think; bought at the Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival the week before)

You can’t actually see the hair accessory from this picture, but it’s a purple flower clip. She also wore a purple bow hairband from Target as a bracelet.

Basically, Day 1 was a warm-up day outfit-wise!

Day 2

So on Friday evening, my dad corrected me (that is, he is a physical therapist and the reason I ‘d had the headache was because my pelvis/spine/neck was out of alignment) and I went to bed rather than working on the commissions.

Saturday morning (Day 2) I felt soooo much better and started on the commissions a little after we arrived at Embassy Suites. I wasn’t sure if it had been specified that I would do a sketch commission or not, so I went ahead and inked and colored both. My brother went to another Eric Stuart panel while I worked.

[View all four commissions on Tumblr! -> http://suishouyuki.tumblr.com/post/83550510802/the-four-commissions-i-did-this-past-weekend-at ]

The first commission was Fai from Tsubasa, and it was really nerve-wracking for a bit because the commissioner came earlier than I had anticipated and I had to say I wasn’t done yet ( ´△`);. Thankfully she was understanding and it worked out that she didn’t need it as quickly as she had thought, so the timing ended up being just right! She ended up being very happy with it and I was so glad. (*´▽`*)

The second commission was Yugi from Yu-gi-oh!, which took longer simply because of the coloring, since in this case he had more colors than Fai. After that, my brother and I went to see the panel with Eric Stuart and Dan Green (Dan Green voiced Yugi/Yami in YGO!)!

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They took photos of us XD And a selfie! Actually selfies seemed to be a pretty common occurrence at the event. It was amusing. XD

Ahh~ I left this panel feeling so happy. It was just really neat hearing all the stories, the how, the why, the voiceacted lines. XD

There was also a funny moment where Eric Stuart mentioned his imaginary friend was at one point Spiderman, and, well…

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…there was a Spiderman there.  XD

That little incident ended up a little awkward, but it was mended with a selfie. xP

We were going to try to get one of my “Corporate Takeover” prints signed by Dan Green but the line for his autograph session was so terribly long we decided we were okay;;;

At 5 PM, my brother and I went to Chii Sakurabi’s concert!

She has an amazing voice, I think! And again with the selfies:

Can you see me? \( ‘з’)/ Lol (Here’s a hint: I’m to the right of Chii. My brother is behind me.)

While we were there, the Yugi commission I did got picked up, and Mama also texted me that there was an inquiry in for another commission, so when we came back from the concert I started on that. While I was drawing, the girl who commissioned for Yugi came back by to say again how much she loved it, and to show me she had gotten it signed by Eric Stuart. She said she hoped she could get Dan Green to sign it too. I was really happy ;____;

The third commission (I never ended up putting out my commissions sign! Lol) was Jin the Wind Master from Yu Yu Hakusho! The commissioner is also an artist; she showed me her drawings and they were really nice! She showed her drawing of Jin and said that she had looked all over and didn’t see any art of him anywhere, so she wanted to commission a sketch of him. (I ended up forgetting to take a picture when I was done and had to ask for her to send a photo of it to me, which she kindly did!) She was also really happy with the result, and I was so glad ♡

Almost at the same time, the same girl who commissioned me for Fai came back and wanted a sketch commission of a chibi chocobo from Final Fantasy, again for autograph signing! So I did, and even though I was concerned that maybe it could be cuter, she loved it too, and as it turned out, there were two girls looking through my prints when I handed it to her, and when they saw it they were so excited they couldn’t speak! I think they really liked chocobos! I’m happy that I was able to make so many people happy with just a sketch. (´;ω;`) I was hugged!

My coordinate for Day 2:

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Shirt- Goodwill
Skirt- Anna House Fashion
Socks- Target
Shoes- Off Broadway Shoes
Hair Accessories- Forever 21

You can’t see it in this photo, but we actually layered two bows! You can somewhat see here:

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My mom’s coordinate:

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Shirt- already had; that is, she borrowed from Nana
Skirt- Goodwill
Stockings- Target
Shoes- Off Broadway Shoes
Hair accessories- Forever 21

We weren’t as hot the second day! It was very nice. ( ̄▽ ̄)

Day 3

Easter Sunday!! “ヽ(´▽`)ノ”

Boy, I was so glad we got to go to church!!! I was worried we wouldn’t be able to go, but we went to the early service. It was so packed in there, it was unbelievable! And the sanctuary/auditorium isn’t small at all! The floor pews were full, the balcony pews were full and they were lining up folding chairs along the main balcony walkway (which is where we ended up sitting), and besides all that, since the service is broadcast live throughout the building, there were people who had to go to the gym to watch it there!

It was a great start to the morning! I left feeling energized! (Even though I cried so much during the service that I went through four tissues…lol)

After breakfast back at home, we headed back to Embassy Suites for the final day of MTAC! Even though three-day conventions apparently have fewer attendees on Sundays, there were still a whole lot of people there.

Mm… It definitely was a slower day in the Dealer Room I was in, though. I looked around both Dealer’s Rooms with my brother briefly, but didn’t really have time to closely look at the other artist tables. >_< I had wanted to look at Chii’s table, but when we came back by, it had been taken down! Д)

Oh! I did get my  own “Corporate Takeover” print signed by Eric Stuart though!! I kept telling my brother that I didn’t have to have it signed, but he really wanted me to, so we sort of…crept over towards the table. Suddenly he got too nervous and pushed me in front of him, and I got extremely shy…and then another girl came up wanting a signature, so I just slid in next to her and didn’t really say much; just gingerly placed my print and the $10 fee on the table and told him where to sign it when he asked me.

Turns out my brother recorded the whole thing! XD He said he had wanted to tell Eric that I had drawn the picture, but in the end he was too shy to say anything. But that’s totally fine~ I don’t even mind. XD

So that was a little embarrassing, but I’d like to share the amazing thing that happened on this day! It really warmed my heart and brought the whole experience to a beautiful close.

When they opened the doors to let people in for Dan Green’s solo panel, my brother and I made it to the front row and sat just feet away from him. He was signing headshots of himself (apparently the day before, at his signing, he stayed the whole time and signed everything people wanted him to sign. His hand must’ve hurt after all that >_<; ). I was reluctant about it, but my brother really wanted to try again to get my print signed.

The girl I mentioned before who commissioned me to draw Yugi and got it signed by Eric Stuart also made it to the front of the room, and was already at Dan’s side before we knew it. Seeing that, I just sat down. I did not want to ruin her moment, no matter how much my brother poked me. I can’t even describe how perfect it was… I don’t know what she said, but she was overflowing with emotion and he gave her a hug and it was so moving to see. (´;ω;`)  He did sign the commission piece too! Just seeing that short scene filled me up with joy, especially after Dan got up and announced that he only had five minutes to answer some questions because his flight had been cancelled and he’d had to get an earlier one.

How perfect was that?!?!

I don’t even think I can properly express how happy I am and how thankful to God I am that she got to have that time with him. She’d expressed to me on Friday how much of a fan of the show she was and she was so excited and…yeah, I really can’t explain it well, but I’m just so happy for her (´;ω;`)

Um, after the abbreviated panel, during which everyone expressed as much appreciation as they possibly could within such a short amount of time, we arrived back at my table just in time for me to sign my own print…which was odd, considering what I’d just experienced/witnessed. I mean, another person had wanted me to sign earlier too, but… It just blew me away. Again. I was thinking, “Wow. I’m not such an amazing person that you should want me to autograph this for you…” but… (T . T) I’m so grateful for the support.

And one girl even wanted a picture with me after I signed my print… Wow.

Another happy thing that happened was that I did an art print trade with Seth of Seth Illustrations! It was my first time ever doing a print trade. ^o^ I’m still pondering where to put his print~

Also!

kaiba cosplay mtac 2014

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This guy, who was cosplaying as Kaiba all weekend–even in regular clothes! See the “KC” on his pocket?!–stopped by my table every day to look at my “Corporate Takeover” picture. On Sunday he finally said, “That’s just too funny. I have to have it.” and bought it! I was happy! The whole time before that I felt like… “Come on, man, you’re Kaiba all this time…you have to buy yourself! XD” So I was glad he did. <3

My coordinate for Day 3:

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Shirt: already had
Skirt: Goodwill
Socks: Target
Shoes: Off Broadway Shoes
Hair accessories: Forever 21

The ribbon is just a black ribbon from a…spool? that I had leftover from a Halloween costume I made several years ago. I’m also wearing a plain black skirt underneath this one to add to the thickness.

The stamp is on my face because I had a strange expression. >_<; So I put a stamp on the other girl’s face just because it balanced it out lol.

My mom’s coordinate:

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Shirt & skirt: Goodwill (skirt modified to fit by Nana, as it was too big)
Hair accessories: already had (WalMart)
Socks: Target
Shoes: Off Broadway Shoes

I think the skirt’s shape still isn’t quite right, but it seems it’s a difficult skirt to work with and would need a lot more time to work on than the time we had. >_<

Also, please excuse the mess in our living room. >_<;

Mmm~ So, that was about it! We were immersed in the con’s afterglow for the whole evening. It really was something… I’m glad we got to experience it; we learned so much and I think maybe I grew a little more? I definitely want to try my best from here on too, to make things that make people smile, and to be the kind of person who makes people smile, who lights up someone’s day!

Thank you again, so much, to everyone who stopped by my table, to everyone who gave me kind words, encouragement, and advice, and to everyone who bought something. I appreciated all of it so much!!

I know this is a long post, but if you made it this far, thank you so much for reading! If you went to MTAC, please leave a comment below! Even if you didn’t, I’d still like to hear from you~ How was your weekend? ^^

Roughly 19 hours until MTAC begins, according to the site’s countdown timer! I’m all sorts of dokidoki right now :;(∩´﹏`∩);

I’m pretty much ready, in the most general sense, I think! There are a few more details to go through… But at least the prints and bookmarks have arrived, and the stickers are printed, although there was a bit of a fiasco with the stickers. >_<

I followed the directions and edited the template with my design so it would line up properly, and printed a test page on regular paper. Then I printed it on a single sheet of sticker paper. It looked fine, but was a little close to the edge on one side, so I moved the template a little more. But then the printer went crazy or something! It started printing the images much higher than they were supposed to be; each time putting them a little higher!

My mom had the idea of going against the directions, which say to put the sticker paper on top of 25 sheets of printer paper, and put only the one sheet of sticker paper in the tray. Voila. It worked. But then the next one printed incorrectly again.

We figured out that it’s probably because of the sticker paper itself; like maybe it was leaving residue or something. So we started to alternate printing on printer paper, then sticker paper, and that seemed to work. I’m thankful to God;; Now I know how my printer treats sticker paper; maybe in the future I won’t end up wasting so many sheets. (´;ω;`)

(And maybe, if you’re going to print stickers, this may help you too…? I hope so. Lol.)

A—lso! I’ve got my Storenvy stocked! I’ll open it this weekend! Please have a look tomorrow by clicking on the “Store” tab at the top of the page. (´◡`♡) I don’t have the stickers listed, but if I have any left I will add them.

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It’s a lovely Sunday, one that began with overcast skies, but soon those clouds melted away to reveal endless blue sky and brilliant sunshine. The flowering trees are blooming, and many, including the one in front of my window, is in full bloom. It makes me really happy to see it. (*´꒳`*)

Today I’m taking a bit of a break from the constant streak of drawing I’ve been doing in my “print rush” to prepare for MTAC. At the same time, though, I know nothing gets done by my inaction, so I’m having to sort of…make myself relax. After all, breaks are important! They help to refresh you and give you new energy to put back into what you’re working on. So when I think of that, I’m okay. (´◡`)

That said, it’s about time for an update!

MTAC Artist Alley

I am going to be selling in the Artist Alley at MTAC, which is April 18-20 in Murfreesboro, Tennessee! As I mentioned on Twitter, it’s my first time both being at MTAC and selling in the Artist Alley, so I’m both nervous and excited, and I’m praying everything goes well.

I’m selling different-sized prints as well as stickers, and maybe bookmarks, and I will also be taking commissions. So if you are able to come, please do!

As for cosplays, my mom and I will be dressed as lolitas for two days, and one day I may be dressed as a schoolgirl! We just got a lot of our items in the mail yesterday and are very excited to finish up our coordinates~

AIS Assignments

I’ve finished up to lesson 18 and thankfully still have straight As! Lessons 19 and 20 are waiting on me to start after print rush craziness is over. I’m coming into the home stretch now! Soon will be the next review book, and after that the final section. I haven’t heard of the results of the last contest I entered, but I should be getting some info about that soon since I think they said results would be released in March or April.

Japanese

Needless to say, I’ve had to cut back on Japanese learning in order to focus on drawing, as well as frequency of translation, but I should be able to get back into it deeper after MTAC. I’m still reading and listening/watching and I talk to myself in Japanese while I’m drawing. XD In all of this, though, I’ve been looking again at schools and the prospect of actually going, and now I think I want to take more appropriate steps towards that, even if I don’t actually end up going to schools there. So I want to begin taking GenkiJACS Skype lessons every week, maybe starting in May or June… It depends on budget and what’s going on after MTAC. If nothing else, it’s practice speaking in actual conversation, practice in talking in general (*shy*) and guidance from an actual teacher–all of which I really need.

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(Blurry, so I left it small…)

Spring is the season of new beginnings, symbolized well especially in Easter, the celebration of Jesus’ victory over death to give us a new life of new beginnings. Every Spring, with the blue skies, beautiful flowers, and warmer weather, I feel energized to start anew. So I’ll do my best! And from now on I’ll try to post more often lol (´・ω・`)

Tadoku results Jan 2014

Hey, everyone! Guess what? Last month was another full round of Tadoku, which means another post reflecting on how it all went!

Actually, I’m not that excited about it. Maybe that’s because it’s already eleven days into February and I’m just now writing this, and maybe it’s because I don’t feel like I really pushed myself this round, but either way, an explanation is in order!

Since I wasn’t able to meet my goal in October (145 pages), I kept it the same for this round, thinking I probably could get to it at the very least. I’d been reading more Japanese on a daily basis in general, and felt that even if I only kept that up, I would probably break even at 145 pages. But I surprised myself a bit–I read a total of 167 pages! That’s 22 pages over my goal! Hm…I wonder if I should bump it up to 200 next time?

According to the breakdown, I once again read mostly web pages (i.e. blog posts, various web articles, Twitter, etc.) and did a good bit of singing since I read several lyrics. The three book pages were from a Japanese magazine called Top Yell. I tried very hard this round to record my progress every day, but as you can see, that started failing quite badly from around the middle of the month and especially the last half. I encountered a period of busyness and forgot to update Tadoku pretty much every other day. ^^;

While I did read 22 pages more than my goal, as I said, I don’t feel like I pushed myself. It seems like I just kept reading about what I typically read. But I guess suddenly getting quite busy didn’t leave me a whole lot of room to reach further, huh? I want to try a little harder next time!

Yesterday and today have been rather lazy days, it seems. More than that, yesterday seemed to zip by! It was morning, and then all of a sudden it was nighttime and we were all asking each other where the day had gone…

I realized I haven’t blogged much at all this month and decided I should post something but… I don’t know what to talk about. My day? The direction of my website? Upcoming events? My Japanese progress? It has been a while since I’ve said much about learning Japanese (and that reminds me–I need to update my resource page again), so let’s talk about that for now. ^^

A while back, I started a series with the abbreviation “AJA” for “Akemi’s Japanese Adventure”, in which my persona, Akemi, tackles the journey of learning Japanese with weekly updates on the adventure status. I clearly have not continued it past the first few updates for various reasons, but I would like to revisit it soon with a different posting schedule; maybe just twice a month or something so I don’t get overwhelmed with stats and stuff.

Just so you have an idea of what I’m doing… Lately my Japanese learning has consisted almost entirely of consuming Japanese material. I’ve been regularly reading Japanese every day such that I keep forgetting to update Tadoku, watching a lot of Japanese videos on YouTube, and listening to podcasts. I’ve also done quite a bit of shadowing this month, and practiced speaking just to myself to see how quickly I can recall things for use in conversation (for example, I might try to go over what I will have for lunch or what I need to do that day, in Japanese). Besides that, I’ve also continued with translating, which continuously makes me learn new things. I’ve been enjoying it. ^^

I still would like to have more tangible Japanese reading material, as I currently only have a photo book, a magazine, and some animation school information packets…but it’s okay. I can go back and read what I haven’t, and that’s fine for now. :3

Anyway, I hope everyone is having a lovely evening/day and I shall update again soon!
Good night (“⌒∇⌒”)

Today I thought I’d write a little bit about AIS, because I realized I haven’t really explained it in great detail; simply linked to the website and added a couple of comments here and there, aside from my post on how AIS has helped me improve as an artist. I get a fair amount of questions about it and thought it would be easier to write up a post rather than continuously answer the same questions individually. ^^ That said, if you still have any questions after reading this, please ask! ^^ I may have unintentionally left out something and therefore didn’t answer your question;;;

Art Instruction Schools, or AIS for short, is the correspondence art school in which I am enrolled. “Correspondence” refers to the fact that lessons and assignments are done entirely through the mail; I do not have to go to an institution outside my home in order to attend classes or turn in work. Communication with teachers is done via phone, letter, or email, and the school itself sends you the materials you need to complete the course (including mailers) along with the course books and notifications of things like school contests.

You complete the lessons at your own pace, though they have recommended time frames for you–early lessons should take a week or two, and as you progress it is not unrealistic to take a month or so on each lesson–and they will send you reminders via mail if you take an unusually long time on a lesson. There are no semesters or class “grades”, really… Though I suppose one could count each section as a semester if they wanted; it would make sense if each lesson took a month to do.

When you first enroll, you receive your first two lessons. When you send in the first lesson (yes, they must be done in order), the school sends the third lesson and holds your first one for grading. When you send your second one, they send your fourth. That way you always have a lesson to work on. Graded lessons come back with both a letter grade and helpful notes and such on an overlay which is on top of your drawing. The teachers can show you in this way what you could do better, what you need to work on, or perhaps things they really like about your drawing.

All the art for the lessons is done traditionally; no computers or pen tablets involved. You work with pencil, pen (both felt and nib), brush, paint, and ink and learn many things about art in general, like light and shade, painting techniques, color theory, calligraphy, animal and human figures, cartooning, and more. I find it both refreshing and challenging, as it’s often things I’ve not done before–both in medium and subject–and without the luxury of layers, select and drag, and an “undo” button, it definitely requires a higher level of…consideration? of where to place your lines or strokes of the brush.

I’ve not been asked about this, but I’m sure someone might wonder about it: AIS is an accredited art school, and it is possible (though perhaps not in all cases) to count the course as credit hours in a college, which I think is great for those who may not be starting college right away, as if the college they apply to accepts those credits they can start out being a little further ahead. In addition, the final art project is meant to expand your portfolio, which could also be helpful in a college situation…or even perhaps for business. In terms of financial aid, the school does offer scholarships, as well as aforementioned contests, which are either for scholarships or cash (if you win the cash and still have some tuition to pay, it is first applied to the tuition, which I do think is quite nice).

Um…I can’t think of anything else at this point! Like I said, if there’s anything else you’d like to know, feel free to ask. ^^ I hope this has helped you understand a bit about these lessons and contests I keep talking about. XD

P.S. This is also my first post of 2014! Although I do have a New Year’s post in my drafts…it’s not quite finished so I decided to post this one first. It’s a bit late, but Happy New Year, everyone! :D I hope you have a magnificent year!