Art and the arts didn't mean much to me when I was a child. My main interests were Cartoons and toys. Around 10 years old a drew a picture for class that I thought was pretty good and started to draw more regularly.
My cousin and I started tracing dynamic poses from comic books on sheets of plastic, some of which I still have today. I created my own comic book character called 'Vibe', and his means of transforming was to utter the phrase, "Feel the vibe!" Soon I had sheets and sheets of paper of Vibe his several sidekicks and numerous powerups, including a mecha suit.
Around this time I ended up being exposed to two different forms of animation that both showed me that art, even in animation form, had value beyond children's fantasy. These forms of animation were the movie 'Heavy Metal', and anime titles such as 'Dragonball Z' and 'Sailor Moon'. Heavy Metal proved to be the most mature, followed by Dragonball Z and then Sailor Moon. Watching these things made me feel inadequate and immature about Vibe, which I subsequently lost interest in drawing.
Anime ultimately had the biggest influence on my drawings and doodles for quite a while after being introduced to me. I became something like a "Japanophile" and the characters I started to create had more and more japanese sounding names and appearances, though nearly everything I drew was monochrome. Art classes in school taught me some of the basic artistic concepts I had yet to grasp on my own, but my interest in drawing was dwindling. I was more content at that time to watch anime than draw anything, so my own art suffered with a period of inactivity Which didn't pick back up until I was around 14 to 15 years old.
At that age there was a summer of puberty and sexual experiences that dramatically changed the direction of my inspiration and artistic drive. This was coupled with the fact that I ended up attending an all boys, private, catholic high school. Having experienced some of the more intoxicating capabilities of the female gender, but being in a circumstance where I never got to see any females caused my mind to bend around two topics: Women and sex. Before this point 100% of my drawing were of men; after this point that percentage dropped down to about 5%.
I started downloading pornography and hentai and attempting to draw what I saw. I drew lots of erotic art during my first years of high school and I had an audience of like minded boys to help guide my learning curb. Due to the criticism and feedback I got from them, my knowledge of anatomy flourished. It was around this time - age 16 or so - that music and calligraphy reset the balance of my artistic drive.
As I stated prior, the arts didn't mean much to me as a child, and music was no execption. I didn't really care about music until I was around 15. I started taking art classes to further boost my knowledge and ability, learning more of the basics as well as advanced and even expert concepts of art. Being in a private school meant that the art department was funded pretty well and necessary resources for art students were always available. The art teachers were decent at their jobs and would play music during class to nourish the students inspiration. I didn't like most of the music they played at that time, so while in class my inspiration suffered, but at home I adopted their tactic and it bore fruit in the form of work that impressed me. From then on I listened to music nearly everytime I would draw.
Meanwhile, I was taking French as a language class for the last three years of high school. I was still enamoured with Japanese culture and one teacher was offering Chinese language classes. I figured that if I couldn't take Japanese I'd take Chinese. The class taught me mandarin chinese and by the end of the of the course the final tests were entirely written in traditional Chinese. Learning to write the Chinese characters was something I incorporated into my art and from time to time during art classes I was allowed to do some calligraphy instead of drawing standard art class stuff. Around this time, I discovered the program, Paint Shop Pro.
With the discovery of PSP I slowly taught myself how to use it. I learned from tutorial websites about things like layers, groups and effects. I drew my line art, scanned it, and colored it in PSP, even the erotic stuff. By the end of high school at age 18 I had shifted toward digital art.
In college I didn't take more than 2 art classes, opting to teach myself more about what and how to draw, especially concerning digital art. I did however, take more Chinese, French and even Japanese language electives. I was still using PSP, but my scanner was broken, so for a while I just colored other line art I found online. I got tired of doing that pretty quickly though, so I shifted back toward traditional art. It wasn't long before all my resources were exhausted and I had no funds to buy more. I decided to try drawing with my mouse with horrible results.
At some point in time I discovered photoshop and manga studio. I was skeptical of photoshop due to it's popularity and mainstream notoriety, but manga studio was obscure and had a tool that allowed me to continue pursuing digital art. Even with only a mouse, Manga Studio's autocorrecting ability made my strokes with a mouse about 70% accurate as compared to a pen. I learned about pen tablets soon after someone asked why my lines were so jittery, but with no money to spare for one, owning one remained a dream. Manga Studio was good enough for the time being.
After college graduation, I decided to find an online audience to showcase my work and grow from their feedback. Before I found Deviantart I found Newgrounds, which turned out horribly. Before I really got a chance to show my work for what it was, someone accused me of tracing my art. the jittery lines in Manga Studio apparently didn't look authentic to someone or another. I tried to defend myself on the issue, but the method of getting your art accepted on Newgrounds is reliant on members who are 'established artists', the same established artists who were accusing me of being a phony.
Instead of getting into a drawn out online battle over my art I decided to cancel my account and find a new venue. I found Deviantart and while it isn't easy to get the audience I desire, I still get an audience. Though I have my dA account up and going, I only have a few images to show. Drawing with a mouse is slow and painstaking. Meanwhile, I caved in and tried out photoshop more thoroughly and quickly come to love it.
I learn new painting techniques and use several programs to produce most of my images. I end up finding Pixiv and I'm astounded by the artwork there. Specifically, I learn of the existence of Easy Paint Tool SAI via Pixiv. It was a week before christmas and I bought my first pen tablet as a gift to myself. No longer constrained to the mouse my artwork continues to grow along with my style and talent.