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All Past Featured Artists

Featured Artist of the Month

Sun Rei

This month we honor an artist whose small number of pictures—less than 100—doesn't indicate any lack of prolific artistic output, or newness, or anything like that. Sun Rei used to have hundreds and hundreds of pieces in her gallery, most of which have been removed for one reason or another. What she's left online here for us to see, though, tells the story of her history with this site and this community: it's an artistic tradition in its own right, one that countless artists can attest holds its fascination even once you've branched out to other genres or re-evaluated your approach to your artistic development. Lion King art is more than just a building block in an up-and-coming art career. For a great many people, as Sun Rei's experience suggests, it's home.! *insert random squeals of excitement here* It took me a few minutes to really believe what I was seeing in my email (actually, I went to check the Past Featured Artist list just to be sure) and then I started bouncing off the walls!

When I first found TLKFAA, it was in August 2005. I was experiencing a very difficult and lonely time in my life, having just moved around the world from where I'd grown up. It was a drastic change and a big culture shock. I stumbled across this site by chance and joined immediately. I started uploading pencil-colored pictures the same day and was met by the most kind and supportive artists. Suddenly I had a website full of friends. I uploaded around 700 pictures during those first 4 years. I went from traditional art to drawing with a mouse in MS Paint. I had never realized that normal people could do art on a computer, and it suddenly opened up an exciting new hobby for me. Over time, I also began to draw in Sketcher and Photoshop.

After the initial excitement wore off, I began to feel really frustrated with my art. I watched as artists I knew all around me continuously improved and my art stayed the same. It got to a point where I almost didn't want to bother drawing anymore, since I felt like I wasn't getting anywhere. I deleted almost my entire gallery (which I regret) and left TLKFAA. Then I realized something important. At the end of the day, it really didn't matter if I was improving or not. I had started drawing because I loved it and somewhere along the way I lost that feeling.

I guess the reason I'm sharing this is because I know how it feels to become discouraged with your art. It's often easy to compare our art to other people's, but that usually makes us feel worse. We're here because we share a love for a specific movie and art style, but if we all drew the same, there wouldn't be anything unique about our art. I've seen people do amazing things traditionally and in MS Paint, and it shows you don't need the best art program or supplies. If you're like me and use a mouse, I know how hard it is to not have pressure sensitivity or smooth lines, so well done! Regardless of how you draw, keep drawing and do your best and you'll see improvement. It doesn't always happen at the same speed for everyone, but it does happen.

I'd just like to say thanks to a few people. Brian, thank you for creating and maintaining this wonderful website that brought us all together. To my dear friends and fans, old and new, thank you for your support and friendship through the years. I wish I could name you all, but want to say a very special thank you to Aqua/Sequoia Lioness, Timitu, Toraz, DJ88, DJ Coulz, Orca Owl and kahllynn for your amazing support all these years. And Mom, a big thank you for your endless love and encouragement.

Thank you all so much! I am truly honored!

<3 Sunny
Sun Rei has the right idea when it comes to evaluating your artistic progress. It isn't a contest to see who can get the best the fastest; it isn't a race to upload the most pictures. Ultimately, the reason to make Lion King art is your own fulfillment, your own relationship with the movies and the world they created. Whether that means producing thousands of works of art or just a handful is immaterial. What matters is that you're working toward your own happiness.

And it seems Sun Rei has plenty of reasons to be happy, because in her gallery (here, as well as on her DeviantArt page) are some wonderful pieces that easily capture the inward joy that comes from creating your own characters, your own stories, your own additions to the Lion King world. Using a wide variety of digital and physical art skills and tools, she spends equal time bringing her own characters to life and examining the world of the canon movies. With a clean digital line and a few unique techniques all her own, she has established a style that anyone (particularly her many fans) will recognize immediately.

It's inspiring to see artists like Sun Rei giving so much attention and time to canon art, even now that the movie itself is nearly twenty years old—easily older than most of the members of this site. Perhaps most remarkable is her sculpture of Pride Rock, a piece from last November that immediately jumps out as an illustration of the fulfillment that Sun Rei earns from her work on Lion King art. It's one thing to take part in this artistic community using its subject matter as a mere backdrop, trading character portraits and participating in collaborations that feature each artist's original characters. But to keep that link to the Lion King world alive, by creating illustrations of canon scenes and committing things like Pride Rock to physical media, with all the permanence and solidity that comes with it, is to constantly remind oneself of the inspiration and the fun of the movies that got so many of our community drawing in the first place.

I love seeing artists rediscovering The Lion King and diving headlong into the fan-art world, especially after a hiatus or a crisis of artistic destiny. Sun Rei, with her thoughtful and introspective approach to art and her wisdom born of experience, is one of those artists whom many who are just now discovering the TLKFAA community could well stand to emulate.


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