Hi, my name is Tacoma and I primarily draw furry and fantasy art. My wife Lunati and I write stories about our characters which take place on the Isles of Nimbaterra. Art is my greatest passion in life. I work to improve by drawing daily, even on my busiest days.
I've been active in the furry community for over a decade but went on hiatus for awhile to pursue private projects. I've since returned and have been working tirelessly to build a larger community to share my stories and art with.
Tacoma is a character I made when I was a little girl. Her life began as a vanilla variety white tiger with black stripes. My first animal persona was an eagle I wrote stories about when I was seven. I took the wings from the eagle, painted them the color of clouds and gave them to Tacoma. As I fleshed her out more, she evoked soothing feelings of snow, clouds and twinkling stars. Eventually, her stripes were changed to a bright sky blue to reflect that.
Every day, I doodled her on my school papers, folders and anywhere else I could. Tacoma was painted onto my skateboard, guitar and pc tower. Wherever I went, Tacoma followed closely. I sketched her out on restaurant napkins and shoes and backpacks. Her presence graced my top bunk in the homeless shelter, watching over me while I slept and guarding me from an attacker I couldn't escape. Tacoma was always with me, the image of perfection in my mind. Long after love faded and friendships crumbled, Tacoma remained my dearest friend and guardian angel. The more hardships I endured, the more Tacoma would grow in my heart. Tied into every aspiration, she was the only permanence and stability I had when everything else in my life fell apart.
One of the most tumultuous years of my life was back in 2003, though something positive grew out of it that I'll get to shortly. That January, I had my heart broken by someone I cared very much about. A bad enough situation, compounded only by the fact that just a few days before I'd been kicked out of my own home. This time, I was lucky enough to stay with my grandparents instead of being shipped off to the girl's shelter. For the next few months, I battled depression, self-injury, self-hatred, and dissatisfaction with my own art. The last one hurt the most since art was my therapy. But Tacoma was still there, every day.
To distract myself from the ever-present sinking feeling in my chest, I spent the next six months coding, building and repairing pcs. I've always been a firm believer in having a solid backup plan so I taught myself some valuable skills in case that whole art thing didn't work out. I still wanted it to, more than anything, but I was just one artist lost in a sea of other artists. I had no real role models, no help, no guidance. I didn't know how to promote myself, so I just continued to post. I uploaded art to VCL, DeviantArt and a host of other galleries. So big was my dream to be a popular and well loved artist that it invaded my subconscious dreams. I wanted the world to know Tacoma, how lovely she was, how she had saved my life many times and was worthy of more love than I could give her.
So, July of that year came around and I was about to have a dream that would change me forever. It was the best sort of dream a girl on the cusp of adulthood could have that made me vividly aware of what I wanted to pursue in my adult life. The clarity to know exactly what you want to do and become before turning eighteen isn't common. But there she was to guide me, a sexy white tiger with sky blue stripes, staring me down with a devious grin.
The dream started with me walking out to a mailbox. I turned the key and peered inside at a surprisingly thick stack of envelopes. They were addressed to Tacoma, the beloved tiger I'd been drawing every day for the past seven years. The envelopes held small amounts of donation money, a big relief at a time when I couldn't work. I'd made a website on geocities a few years before, but couldn't yet afford a domain. In those days, domains weren't cheap. But the dream world was finally giving me a break, so I took the first checks I received in the mail and bought a proper url for my art site.
Throughout the dream, my girlfriend gave me advice on how to improve and how to advertise. When I was busy actually making art, she took it upon herself to share the url to my gallery on various forums and communities, which in turn helped my art reach greater audiences. The end goal, of course, would allow me to live a less troubled life financially while fulfilling my greatest goal. This took time, but over the course of the dream, the desired end was realized.
Weeks and months passed in the dream. When my website hit 3,000 views a day, I was over the moon. More donation money arrived in the mailbox in ever increasing amounts, which now meant I could quit building franken-pcs with scavenged scraps and buy a proper powerhouse.
But the very best thing that happened in this dream was something I didn't even know I wanted yet. As the weeks passed, I checked the mail and, to my amazement, discovered that not all of the envelopes held checks or donation money. More and more of them held something even more precious. Art of Tacoma, drawn by people who liked my website and stories and the art I shared online.
Each day, I'd walk back out to the mailbox and there was a new torrent of drawings and paintings and prints made for Tacoma in all styles and outfits, nude and having all kinds of fun with my other characters, and other people's characters. She had become a star in her own right in the furry fandom, and more love kept pouring in from all over the world. The walls of my office were covered, floor to ceiling, in all varieties of art featuring my beloved tigress. My girlfriend was proud of me, I wasn't some helpless kitten she had to carry around anymore. I'd become as successful and self-sufficient as she was, and only then did it truly feel like I belonged with her.
The months pass this way, my audience ever growing. I'm able to lease an apartment of my own and my successful girlfriend moves out of her place and into mine. I can drive, afford to buy clothes that aren't just from the thrift shop, have a powerful working desktop and laptop for travel and my then very short hair had grown long and beautiful, like my girlfriend's. Our shared home is filled with art of our characters together, and my dream has been fully realized.
At seventeen, I woke up from that having all of the answers. I had no idea how I would ever get to that point, but I knew I wanted it more than anything else in the world. I worked diligently on my website, posted art as frequently as I could and continued to spend every available moment drawing. This worked well for a couple years, until my health declined and I was sucked into some multiplayer online games. As a result, I spent ten years working very sparsely on art.
I had no clue what to do on the advertising and self-promotion front, and I still really don't, but I haven't given up. Few others in my life are as invested in the process and community of art, and those who are guard their secrets or simply don't care to point me in any meaningful direction. I've spent hundreds of hours watching videos and reading guides on how to get my art out there and none of the tactics I've tried have improved my circumstances a great deal.
It's now been sixteen years since I had that dream. I'd love to say my dream became a reality. I want to say I've been successful, but the struggle is ongoing. My wife isn't the girl from that particular dream, but I love her with every fiber of my being. She works hard to support the two of us on a single small income, and for that and a million other reasons, she's absolutely my hero. I found real love, and I have had the opportunity to grow as an artist (or I should hope so, after 16 years), but I'm not anywhere close to where I'd like to be.
Recently, I've had to adjust the way I plan to meet my personal goals. If I could pour all of my time into creating content featuring my own characters, that's what I'd do. Patreon has granted me more time to focus on personal art, but commissions are still necessary and, without them, I'd be struggling a great deal more. To compromise, I often commission other artists for pieces of Tacoma, so I don't feel like I'm neglecting her when I've got my hands full with work for other people. So far, this has been working out.
I almost hate that dream for showing me what I could have had. What my life would have been like if I hadn't gotten sick, if I had met different people, if I had connected with the right people at the right time, if I had just tried a little harder, if I'd have had just a little more money, if I were just a little bit better at this art thing. If only any one of those things had been true, my dream could have happened a whole lot sooner. And while it hasn't yet, and might not in what remains of my lifetime, I'm going to fight like hell to make it a reality.