Dropout’s journey to digital art stardom

Dropout’s journey to digital art stardom
Photo by Andre Abitrario

Life has never been easy for Andre Arbitrario, who faced numerous challenges early on. However, his story goes beyond difficulties, starting with hopes and dreams that once seemed unattainable. 

His journey began with a childhood passion for drawing, where he envisioned captivating characters and worlds, bringing them to life on paper. His notebooks became canvases filled with doodles from his vivid imagination.

“Believe the world of fantasy and imagination stems from reality and its complex problems and situations. Perhaps it’s the inner child in me that keeps me going- that maybe there is more to the real world, to real life, when seeing it from an artist's view,” he said.

Expressing aspirations to enter the animation and multimedia arts industry, Andre encountered resistance, with suggestions to pursue a more stable career. 

Born into a humble household, he reluctantly set aside his artistic ambitions, relegating them to the realm of hobbies.

“Life for us was not easy back then, and so as the eldest son of two, I reluctantly put down my hopes of an early career in the field of arts,” he recalled.

College proved challenging as he navigated various courses without finding a true passion. Motivation waned, leading to academic struggles, loss of scholarships, and eventually dropping out to find temporary work. Depression set in, but drawing became his anchor.

With savings from online jobs, he invested in his first digital tablet around 2017, marking the beginning of his digital art journey. 

Posting creations on platforms like DeviantArt and Twitter, Andre drew inspiration from Akihiko Yoshida, renowned for his work in Final Fantasy Tactics and Bravely Default.

For him, “I think the deliberate pencil-like hand-drawn style evokes a unique fantasy feeling I do not see in most games. That is what I want my works to represent in the future, and I am currently striving to achieve that."

He shared, “My first ever commission was from a friend, and while I didn’t want to charge them- they insisted, and I earned about $5 from that. This may not be a huge amount to some, but for me at the time- it was quite generous. It was at that moment I realized I could probably make something out of this hobby. And so, I continued to draw and hone my craft. It was quite rough at the start having no audience and basically zero income for this. But I kept drawing and I kept getting better at it.”  

Small commissions led to valuable connections, eventually securing a role as a character designer for Lawmage Academy, an RPG turn-based game in 2020. 

More projects and commissions followed, with Andre officially joining the art team for Dusk Tactics, an indie game, in 2022.

Today, Andre finds himself immersed in a thriving artistic career, a surprising twist from his initial reluctance. "I never thought my original goal of pursuing an art career would be the right choice for me after all," he admitted. Landing significant projects like Lawmage Academy marks a success, especially considering his lack of a degree or financial cushion.

His message to fellow creatives is one of encouragement: "Stay true to your path and believe in your potential — you can overcome any obstacle. Often when faced with great adversity, people realize what they are truly capable of, pursuing long-held dreams or rekindling passions."

To explore Andre's art, visit his Twitter (@drei_pzxl).NRO


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