Hey faithful readers, it’s time for another edition of Reader of the Month! Meet Jenny, a young artist from Germany, who really epitomises what Neil Gaiman said: “When things get tough: MAKE. GOOD. ART.”
My name is Jenny, I’m a 22 year-old Illustrator from Germany. I just finished art college in Berlin, where I also did some freelance work as a video game artist. Since I was a child I was obsessed with drawing and painting. It sometimes felt like it was pretty much the only thing I could do properly.
However, four years ago, my art and my life took a turn for the worse when I got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
I had some pretty frightening attacks from the Illness, like blindness in my left eye and numbing of my hands and legs. When I couldn’t move my right hand and didn’t know if that terrible attack would ever stop, I had to start drawing with my left hand. I even got pretty good at using my left (as you can see from the photo – Gav). Eventually I got some treatment and was slowly able to move my right hand again.
During that time I struggled with depression. I pretty much raged against myself, my weakness and the sickness that was preventing me from working on my art. It was a long struggle and it felt like there was no way out of the abyss. I completely wanted to give up on art and saw no point in being creative anymore. At it’s worst, I felt like giving up on life.
But then, I think somewhere in the beginning of 2012, I found Zen Pencils. I stumbled on one of the comics on 9GAG. The comic was Find a Job You Love. It was like reading a comic about my own childhood. I remembered what I felt like when painting as a kid. I also realised art was not just some pastime for me, with art I could leave the hospital without even moving. With art, I could express all the fear, all the wrath and all the sadness inside me. Art was my happiness in this dark time of my life.
But it get’s even better, reading the No Regrets comic inspired me a lot and helped give me the courage to go to BTK art college in Berlin.
I’ve been a loyal Zen Pencils reader ever since. It’s given me so much inspiration, courage and self-esteem, and when the ugly depression tries to find its way back in my life, I at least can fight back by reading my favourite comics. And it always reminds me that my illness is not completely controlling my life yet, or my art. And even when my art is getting weaker, it remains MY art. My right hand is better for now and I am finally moving on with making art.
Since graduating, I’m doing some travelling. I’m currently in New Zealand, and being surrounded by so much beauty is doing wonders for my motivation and creativity. I feel like I’m finally on the right path to finding a good life for myself.
Thanks so much for sharing your story Jenny. I hope you stay on top of your illness and continue to live the life you dream of. You can visit Jenny’s website here. You know, I get a lot of emails from readers saying that Zen Pencils helps motivate and inspire them, but what’s even more amazing is that it works both ways. A lot of my readers, especially someone like Jenny, inspire ME. And connecting with people and hearing their incredible stories is one of the best things that’s happened to me since starting this website. Thank you – Gav