We are all different kinds of people.
Born and raised in different environments, experienced different things, like different people, the list goes on. But there is usually at least one thing that ties us all together; as an example, you and your friend might be polar opposites but share the common interest of films or music. Where there is difference, there will always be similarity.
For our art community, it is most likely that we are all different as well— our common bond being the love for art. Some people might prefer to use lighter colors while some prefer darker; some people prefer characters, some prefer environment, and that’s okay. But because we are different, it makes creating content all the more challenging and interesting.
Because we all grew up in different environments and cultures, the way we create art is different. Some of us are inspired by comics, some are inspired by realism, and some are inspired by our own experiences. It is usually the latter that influences our content the most.
But our own experiences are not enough to create stories. We inevitably find ourselves creating content about ourselves and other people— maybe even for someone we don’t know, just because we found their experience interesting and worth creating artwork from. This may be a fun idea, but it is not an easy task. Understanding oneself is already quite difficult, and so is understanding other people. We did not experience what they did, so chances are, we don’t exactly know how they felt or saw what they saw.
Let’s talk about representation. Representation can be defined as the act of one person or object that may speak for a group of people or things as a whole (Merriam-Webster, 2016). Now, this can either go two ways— good and bad. Sometimes media represents a certain niche as a bad thing— usually because they only display stereotypes.
What are stereotypes? These are usually traits or beliefs that ‘define’ a group of people (Cambridge Dictionary, 2016). Of course, since we are different individuals, this is most likely a bad thing. For example— and this is a very common one— not all Asians get A+ on their grades. Everyone learns at their own pace, so not everyone can ace their tests and home works. This is just one simple example of a stereotype, yet it is still the cause of bullying, ridicule, and even jokes. Especially since it is promoted on television, it causes a real impact on people.
This goes for every representation that is shown on media. The stories, characters, and developments actually influence the people who are watching— this is why representation is important. As people, we often find ourselves relating deeply to characters in television shows, books, comics, films, and other forms of media. Because of this, we realize that they are not just fictional characters in a fictional world— they are part of our own growths as human beings.
This is why it is a big deal that minorities are cast as lead actors in big movies, or become part of the political party— because they represent the people who have been here for so long yet gain no attention or credit. Because they represent the people who simply want to be seen as equals with the rest of the world.
These days, we are slowly improving— more and more content creators have started considering minority groups when thinking of ideas for projects. Just recently, Disney released the film, Moana (2016) which features a Polynesian girl as the main character (Bitch Flicks, 2016). Though this is not the first time Disney had Polynesian leads— the previous being Lilo & Stitch (2002)— it is still important that in this age and day, we are being shown more diverse stories, especially those that we can show to children.
The world we live in is diverse— that is a fact that will not change. It is filled with different kinds of people everywhere who have their own experiences to tell in many different ways, be it in the form of writings, or artworks, or music. Don’t be afraid to tell the whole world your story as well, because every story is worth telling.