Say Hello to Sow!

When we came across Sow's work online (the artist behind Forsaken Star) we got  in touch to speak about collaboration. Much of Sow Ay's work focuses on subjects like anxiety, despair, and hope. We have been speaking with Sow about collaboration since 2015. This summer 2016  Sow agreed to share their experience in their own words (and pictures). 

patreon - Copie (2) - CopieI'm Sow Ay, a twenty-something anxious dreamer in love with music and visual things. I live in Clermont-Ferrand, in the beautiful Center of France.

I do my best to make a living out of my passion by freelancing with my Forsaken Star graphic studio. I make artwork for bands, brands, my online shop, exhibitions and many people. In my free time, I play drums with my friends, make videos, funny sounds and designs. I always create and experiment with stuff. Well, here's a bit more my story..
I've never really been a chatty person so I hide myself behind the characters, sounds and stuff I make on my French blog since 2008. (I started the English version later, in 2011). I was at school then, so I thought I could try making a job out of it. I tried to enter design schools. But they all refused me. It was hard. Some even told me to give up and try something else. I kept hearing "drawing" is not a job, that I was not good enough. Even by my family. I became more anxious and started to believe I was not good enough. I was hating myself and stoped enjoying creating. For months. I was only 18 and I felt like I failed my life.
unnamed-8.jpg I think music woke me up. And gave me the motivation to get back to creating things. So I made more drawings. But all changed. I no longer wanted it to be perfect. I wanted it to express something. To have a great atmosphere. To make people think. And I wanted to draw for the music world that inspires and contributes so much to my life.
unnamed-9.jpg Then I got my first commission for making artworks for a little video and my first job as a graphic designer in a newspaper and I felt so happy to be working in the graphic world that refused me 2 years before.
The following year, in 2012, after a huge gig in Paris, I had the kick in the ass I needed and created my Forsaken Star studio in 2013. I created my first t-shirts, artworks. I got the chance to design a t-shirt for Shaka Ponk, a band I love, won 2 prizes, met amazing people and spoke at the senate in Paris in 2015 ! That's so incredible and I still can't believe it !
It all could have been perfect but I started to feel really really tired. All the time. I was like "ok, it'll pass" but it didn't. After a few months, I dared to talk about it with my doctor. To the usual anxiety was added a diagnosis of anemia.
I felt more and more the need to talk about that. To share it. So I made a minimalist blog to share some feelings and hard moments as a freelancer. It's can be found here:
At first it was anonymous and a bit less personal. I didn't want my friends to see this. Damn, would they think less of me? I don't want to look weak to them ! I'm still the bloody workaholic that makes stupid comics, stupid sounds and colored drawings on the internet! That's how they shall see me.
The feedback on my blog was amazing. It was featured on many websites worldwide and I got tons of email to thank me. That was crazy. Why would they thank me ? It's me that should thank them for giving me the motivation to go on. It made me realize how powerful/helpful simple drawings can be. So it's no longer anonymous and now I really want to work more on subjects like anxiety, dream, despair and hope.
I met Hope For The Day a few months after, in my most emotional fest ever, The Never Say Die. It happened a week after the attacks in a concert venue in Paris that killed over a hundred people and left us hugely shocked. I dropped a few tears at this show, hugged Joel (he represented HFTD there) and that meeting definitely helped. It's ok not to be ok, and let's assume this. I changed my "about page" on my website. I didn't want to hide myself behind the fake mega super pro mask but wanted to be myself, to be a human before all. I dared to talk more about the difficulties I had. It was gonna be ok.
But I was also not fully making a living off of my freelance work. I accepted a full time job for about a year beside my freelancing work. Anxiety, exhaustion, lots of work, the making of my first comic book. I couldn't avoid the burn-out. And I hated myself so much for not being able to make enough money as I freelance. I thought I sucked. I was scared to fail. Scared to screw up my dream and Forsaken studio. I was so tired. I couldn't sleep. My brain was overflowing. My coworkers didn't know and I hope they'll never. Because I felt okay at the newspaper, I could focus on something else even if I was tired. That's my freelance self that burned-out.
At the same time, I tried anything to get better. I tried to eat better, tried meditation, went on tons of websites, read inspirational talks... I created a new band with my friends hoping music would keep my brain quiet. But the rehearsals were so exhausting. I had to refuse joining another band. Working on my studio and making the comic book I dreamt of making for years on the evenings and weekends became too hard. All became too much to handle. What the hell?


 Am I stupid ? I work more than 50-60 hours a week, and I'd also play in 2 bands when I'm not in a good shape? I knew I couldn't do all that, that I had to be reasonable but I wanted to do so much more than I could that I hated myself.
Even going to a gig no longer meant excitement, but rather anxiety. Was I gonna survive a whole show after the one in which I half collapsed? (okay I know I fancy Alex Turner from the Last Shadow Puppets but it was not this that make me sit and rest a bit during the show).
I took a lot of vitamins and stuff the doctors gave me, it helped but didn't work. So they gave me something stronger. And the gigs I was the most expecting were coming closer. As a music lover I couldn't miss these! I needed to get better for those !!
The doctor laughed a lot when she realized I was mostly scared to miss a gig. You know, normal people, they don't understand...
It ends up that the music adrenaline saved my evenings and I made it! WHAT A RELIEF! But it seems crazy to overthink and fear even the thing that makes you feel alive!
I have so much to do !
But I need to take care of myself. That became my priority. Yes, even before success as a freelancer. I've never imagined something that could be more important than that to me. I have a lot to learn, to organize myself better, to learn to work less, to stop being afraid to say no or to tell people "I'll do it later, is that okay?, to learn to enjoy my work again, etc.
"I think I'm no longer scared to say I have an anxiety disorder. But I'm also following a treatment against depression. And weirdly, that inspires me a lot to share online my dark thoughts in comics (on my personal tumblr this time : and make dark drawings. It's like I'm learning how to enjoy drawing again. I want to make artworks on anxiety, dreams, hope, despair. Make new comics, exhibitions, work with and for music. Make music and videos on my free time. I want to help people with my drawings. Let them know they’re not alone. That it’ll be ok.

More recently, I dared talking to my friends about those "ghosts" haunting me and I'm amazed to see how lucky I am to have them. It took such a long time to just tell them. I'm glad I did.

Still so much to do. And I’m still so tired. But it’ll get better. I have hope !"

 Sow links 
Twitter :
Comics :