Virtual Pet Collecting - Neopets Part 3
The Beauty Contest
Okay guys, I know this is a personal memoir and all, but it's time I spill some major tea on here. It's time to spill my soul. It's time to tell you all about...the Neopet's 'Beauty Contest'.
I mentioned it briefly in my last article, but this is what I spent most of my time obsessing over during my Neo-phase. It's essentially a fan art contest where players were prompted to draw their pet "looking their best" (whatever that means), and could win based on votes cast by other players. It was a weekly event--the winners would be announced every Friday, sorted by species of pet, and awarded a virtual trophy and a sum of Neopoints. Somehow, for whatever reason, I decided that winning this contest was my life mission. I was around 10 or 11 years old at this time, and I was the most determined I had ever been in my life!
I still tell people that this was the reason I learned how to draw--I was practicing constantly! Seeing other players' artwork pushed me to learn about lighting, shading, and anatomy...I discovered how digital artists drew their art with a tablet (they were still kind of novel at the time, you had to really be into drawing cartoons to own one) and somehow convinced my parents to buy me one. Somewhere along the line, my Neo-obsession crossed over with my developing interest in anime, so I got some of those infamous 'How to Draw Anime' books by Christopher Hart, and my drawings became...very kawaii. LOL.
Despite all of my practice and studying, I never did win the contest. I would spend hours "advertising" aka begging for votes in the forums (I was probably so annoying lol), but my efforts never paid off. I would cry and cry when Friday rolled around and I discovered I didn't place a trophy! My mom still remembers how she found me sobbing into my pillow once after another defeat.
I have a love-hate relationship with this snooty-looking Eyrie that sat on the page for the Beauty Contest.
It felt like she was always mocking my failures.
But nowadays, I'm no longer bitter about never getting that virtual trophy--I'm grateful for all of my experiences that I had during this time. Practicing to draw, communicating with others on the forums, learning fancy adult art terms like 'shading' and 'anatomy'...It was a formative and inspiring time, even if it did end in tears a lot, lol. I'll always look back on it fondly on my memories of it and be grateful that it happened.
Now it's time for the good stuff! I've taken the time to photograph some of my oldest Neopets drawings (that I'm lucky enough to still have and that didn't get lost or thrown out over time) for your viewing (and cringing) pleasure.
The earliest drawings I could find! I think I did them with crayon and then spilled juice on them or something, because the pages have some kind of water damage. My Uni on a skateboard is so radical!
The drool really makes this one.
My precious Usul, who I loved to draw in different outfits. She was red before I managed to save up for the purple paintbrush, so that's why her appearance changes in my drawings. That Guy Fieri-esque flames outfit is killing me!
My Ixi looking chic as hell.
I'm not entirely sure what this drawing is supposed to be--it's not one of my pets, but I think just a random OC? (I liked to design random Neopets sometimes) But I like how ~dark and mysterious~ it is, lol.
I drew this to submit to the general Neopets fan art contest that allowed for fan art of anything Neo-related. It's a bunch of petpets! (Yes, you could adopt a pet for your pet in the game...and they were called "petpets"...) And yes, that grey thing on the bottom right is a pet rock.
One of my many attempts at comics for the Neopian Times. Complete with ~randum~ humor and anime-sweatdrops. These make me laugh so much, because apparently my self-insert character is a butterfly fairy girl in a rainbow jumpsuit?!? I don't know, man. The 10-year-old brain is a weird place.
Here's some art that I did in 7th grade, I think? So I'm a year or two older. You can see that I'm starting to improve a little bit! But my style is getting more and more anime, and my pets are becoming more human.
My Ixi in her witch outfit. As I got a little older, the back stories for my pets became more complicated. My Ixi was a witch that could make healing spells in her garden.
My Neopets in what I thought was 'super kawaii anime fashion' aka lolita fashion, before I had a full understanding of it. I'm entering my full-on weaboo phase at this time.
A rare digital art piece of my Usul. There were quite a few digital drawings, but they were stored on my dad's PC that died years ago, so most all of them are lost. This is the only one that I managed to save on an ancient Deviantart account. It's very anime, LOL.
I drew this in the middle of highschool (I think I was about 15?) as a throwback to my Neopets days. I worked really hard on this drawing, and I actually think it's pretty cute. Shame I didn't finish it. Even though you can really tell that I went full-blown weaboo by this time... XD
Well there you have it--A collection of what I poured my childhood soul into. Even if it's silly, these little drawings are still so dear to me, because they remind me of a time where I was always dreaming, creating, and trying to improve. It felt like something exciting was always around the corner, and the latest project was always waiting to be started. It's a special feeling that I'd like to cherish for as long as I possibly can. I hope you enjoyed this nostalgic journey as much as I did!