Rummy posted one of these the other day and I found it to be a great read and a lot of it resonated with me since it was pretty close to my experiences with this wonderful corner of creatvity and dick jokes on the internet. This will be a truncated mini bio of Newgrounds and me, its still long as brevity isn't soemthing I'm good at.
So flashing back to when I first found out about this site, in the very early 2000's a friend showed me Madness on funnyjunk it had no mention of Newgrounds anywhere and I had forgotten funnyjunk and was trying to find it again to show another friend when I rean through all the other flash sites, albino black sheep, ebaumsworld etc. Eventually found it and its sequel! I was playing all the browser games, my friend and I fell in love with Halo TSAH (and still regularly quote bits and pieces here and there).
I never engaged with the community and didn't have an account until I was thirteen in August 2009. I had always been the kid drawing comic characters and rip offs of whatever movies, games etc in dedicated spiral notebooks, I still have the stacks and stacks of Marvel heroes, Spawn, Jak and Daxter and so on into infinity rip offs that I drew and redrew. Then came the Meat-Heads a parody attempt of military shooters that were so popular in the mid/late 2000's I thought I was gonna blow all the art forum peeps away (at the time I had no idea it just recently launched).
I made my first thread "The Meat-Heads by Jack" and posted the bic pen scratch that was Meat-Head #1 with the promise of posting 110 of these super soldiers. The response was not quite the praise I was expecting it was mixed with a lot of niceties but some harsher words mainly telling me to improve and the infeasability of having 110 characters (very valid points) I was not prepared for criticism and responded like you'd expect a 13 year old to. Excuse after excuse saying "I'm doing my own thing if you don't like it get outta my thread."
I fancied myself a writer more than an artist when I was thirteen and fourteen (teenagers are an annoying bunch aren't they) but I stuck around the art forum and continued drawing and not being super open to crits, but the stellar art of people like M-vero (now daverom) Hyptosis, e-m-b-r-i-o, and then Bizarrojoe's whore threads, among other activity threads, kept me coming back and in there. Then after about a year and a half I notcied I had been improving a lot; so I was drawing more and more and noticed I was enjoying it more, I was getting involved in collabs (man I miss those) engaging with the community more and commenting on other art threads. I would try to branch out into the General and Videogame forums but the art forum was my home on this site. The Art Forum Stickam chat was what solidifyed it, I was an artist. By the time I had hit fifteen I knew I wanted to go into illustration in some capacity, I was a reg in the chat made friends with some killer artists and great people - Aigis, Lovingthedark ( now radiodark), Ornery, Test-Object, ThePsychoSheep, Bigjonny13, Turkeyonastick, and so many others.
After being a member of the community for so long when I heard about the pico day 2015 meetup I knew I had to make the trek. I flew out on my own for the first time from LA to Philly and met Radiodark, Kashi and Orn and had a great time met tons of people (all too briefly though). Got to meet brother/sister in ink Linda-mota and Yurgenbergen - my two favorite inkers in this place, racked up a sketchbook full of everybody's little scribbles I could. I remember the feeling after that weekend I was supercharged, everything felt amazing my creative energy was at an all time high and I just felt like Newgrounds was made of magic, having faces to a lot of names and business cards really turned the site into an almost tangible force in my life and I cannot put words to how incredible it is that so many creative and weird people are united here in their love for all sorts of random shit, but also that DIY spirit that doesn't exist in the same way on bigger sites like tumblr and is completely absent in the 'LOOK AT ME' world of instagram. Also its just crazy talking to people whose voices you've heard in countless flash animations and then realizing after talking to them - wait, THAT was redminus, or stamper or hearing Johnny Utah across a room but not knowing the source and investigating the source so you could get a scribble. Or walking up a staircase and bumping into Tom Fulp. BLEW MY dumb little mind
The next year I began doing super in depth reviews and critiques of art (still available pm me!) and I suppose it didn't go unnoticed as I was made an art mod which I try to still fill out my moddly duties but its difficult with life in the way. ANYWAY I went to Picoday 2016 for Newgrounds 21's birthday more of the magic was there as in 2015 I met test-object (accidentally kicked his shin while gettin that hug) and TOAS, great times, great people, Tom remembered most of my name - still gets me hot and bothered thinking about. I got to tell rikert to his face how amazing his forms are there are countless little moments I'll hold onto from these two weekends and cannot thank Tom and company for hosting them because they really were fantastic meet ups and celebrations of all things NG.
So Currently I am going to community college and will be transferring next spring or fall (depending on how my units shake out) to an art school, Cal State or UC with a major in illustration or fashion design here in LA and I have Newgrounds to thank for that. While I was always the kid doodling in the back, the art forum gave me the critiques, the support and the community to improve. Not just to improve but to pursue learning more and get better at not just drawing but understanding art and branching out into using photoshop and illustrator, I got direction from NG. The Art community was my art teacher since I hated art classes in highschool and always felt they focused on shit I didn't care about or presented information in a way I couldn't relate and get excited for. As dramatic as it may sound Newgrounds gave me not only entertainment but it gave my life as a whole direction. I have no idea where I'd be without it I probably wouldn't be an artist I wouldn't have any artistic skill I'd be a boring motherfucker. So thank you Tom for this place because without I'd just be another guy who can't draw for shit.