I, Jasmine Rosa Emilia Hintsala, commonly known as Jasu, was born in 1993, on the 16th of March, in a tiny village of Finland called Oulainen, to be the little sister for my three siblings. As the years passed those three siblings eventually grew into ten siblings. So, all in all, my family consists of 13 people. Mom, dad, five boys and six girls. I grew up surrounded by people, there were a lot of kids in my neighborhood and I had a lot of cousins and other relatives that I was often seeing. Even so, ever since being a little kid, I always enjoyed playing alone. I used to (and still would) go explore the unknown environment on my own. Many times I’d rather leave the crowd of people to have my little adventures.
The forest was my favorite place: I would go there and spend hours imagining that I was the most valiant and fastest horse in the whole entire universe, and there were constantly people after me trying to catch and imprison me. But I was the only horse they couldn’t catch. Many times I also turned into a tiger: I would be the strongest and most skilled hunter that had ever existed. The human-hunters never managed to track me but instead, I sneaked behind them to give them the last surprise of their lives. Every time I was swimming, I turned into a dolphin or a seal, and when I was around 4 years old, I would take off all my clothes every day exactly at 6 pm. because: “Animals don’t have clothes!” Then I’d run like a dog all around the house and the yard, not using my hands at all when it was time to eat and drink. I remember my dad once asking me what I was going to become when I grow up. Without hesitation I blurted: “A tiger!” Dad laughed and asked me: “What do tigers do?” To this too, I had an answer ready: “They eat small children and fat.”
As can be seen, I was extremely passionate about animals, and when around the age of 7 my parents bought a VHS player, I would sit hours watching different nature documentaries over and over again. And so, when I grabbed a pen, the papers would be filled with different animals. My passion for animals and nature was always going hand in hand with my passion for drawing. As long as I can remember, they both have always been there. As mom saw me watching a nature documentary I hadn’t seen before, she’d often comment something like “Okay, now Jasu will draw dolphins for the next two weeks”, and that was exactly what happened. Seeing the animals on the screen always got me thrilled to draw them. And so I kept drawing, drawing and drawing.
Above you can see a drawing from the time I was 6 years old. Whatever animals I drew, I often added diamonds and other jewelry all over them, except when it came to predators. Then everything was pretty much covered in blood, which can be seen in the picture below. That particular drawing I made at the age of 10.
I clearly remember one particular moment from the time I had just started the elementary school. I never went to daycare or preschool, so going to elementary school at the age of seven was actually the first time in my life that I’d spend my days away from home. One morning I arrived to school very early and it happened that one of my best-friends-to-be had done the same. So, the teacher asked us to come inside and gave us some paper, pencils and crayons so that we could draw. I happily started drawing: I drew a large grass field divided in two by a small stream on the left side of the paper. Then I drew horses grazing on the field. As I was completely immersed in the drawing, I suddenly heard a gasp from the girl sitting next to me: “Woaaah! That’s so beautiful! You can draw sooo well! Can I have that drawing?” I still remember the feeling of surprise and confusion that her reaction caused in me. I had always loved drawing but such thing as “being good at it” hadn’t existed to me. At home I don’t remember anyone ever really commenting on my drawings to tell me if they were good or bad. I had simply been drawing because it had always been so much fun.
My mom used to hide all the drawing paper from me because I’d use 100 of them in a couple of hours. Thus I learned to draw on used envelopes and on the back of the paid bills that I found in the kitchen garbage bin. In the third grade I got a new elementary school teacher and for the next 4 years we were every now and then having our little fights about my drawing style. I had a wild imagination and always paid attention to details. If we were told to draw “my day in a forest”, most of my classmates would draw something including themselves, a few trees and maybe a little bit of something else. Me however, would draw myself (probably riding a horse), then trees, then some more trees, all of them probably different kind. Then bushes with different colored berries, pine cones all over the ground, anthill, and mushrooms of course, tree stumps, stones of different sizes, others having moss on them and others not. Then animals! There would be a bear lurking behind one of the trees, a moose, a reindeer, a stag with huge antlers, and a hedgehog having a dinner with frogs beneath some big leaves of rhubarb. There would also be a rabbit or two, a fox chasing a mouse, a snake, some lizards having a gathering, a woodpecker pecking a tree, some squirrels annoyed by the noise of it, birds flying all over the sky, some birds sitting on the branches of the trees, an owl peeking from a whole in a tree, the sun and clouds on the sky, maybe some rainy clouds too, must not forget the rainbow. Hey! Wolves gotta fit somewhere! And a lynx too! …maybe some flowers would be nice somewhere…and a weasel.
Well, I guess it’s not a surprise that my teacher was losing his temper a few times. I was always very fast at drawing though, and even with all those details, I rarely had non-finished works because of running out of time. Nonetheless, sometimes the teacher strictly forbid me to draw so many details, for I was able to go on with them forever. This always made me go for a “revenge” and draw something very hastily and totally below my skills. At home, I would tape several papers together to get one huge paper and then simply start drawing detail after detail as the ideas kept popping into my mind.
Seen above there is a very good example of my drawing style in elementary school. Below there is an excellent example of what happened when I didn't get to draw what I wanted and went for a "revenge" instead.
As the elementary school went on, one year after another, I started to learn more and more about the fact that I was good at drawing. In fact, the whole school knew about it. This way the creation of pressure started. Drawing was still the thing that I enjoyed doing the most, but in addition to the joy it brought to me, it now slowly started to bring another factor to my life: Competition. I had always been good at drawing, always the best of my age, and I felt I had to maintain that reputation. So I kept drawing, drawing and drawing but, as the high school started, the enthusiasm of my childhood years was dying out. I still enjoyed making art, I was still good at it, getting better all the time but now the purpose of doing it had moved from “fun” to “getting better”. I always had to be better, thus I was never good enough. No matter how much I got compliments I never got myself to believe them. There was always something wrong with my drawings and I openly complained about the “mistakes” in them.
All the years in school I had always been good at basically everything I did. My grades were excellent without me even trying. Though I was skilled, I lacked ambition. For me it was easy to memorize what teachers wanted us students to memorize and then write it down on exam paper. Even the subjects that I had no interest in I was good at but I never really cared about my school grades, only being good at drawing was something that mattered to me.
Till the end of junior high school I mostly drew different animals, especially horses. Then, at the age of 16, I got into the world of manga and anime, and so my interest in drawing humans experienced a huge growth. I now also started to properly color my drawings. Earlier it had been very rare for me to color anything at all and I had only done it with schoolwork when the coloring had been required, or when I had felt that the drawing I had made was a particularly good one and “deserved” to be colored. Once a week I attended a teenagers’ art club where I met an art teacher who was the first person ever to give me critique on my drawings. That got me to start improving immensely.
At the age of 16 my animals began to gain their natural anatomy. Around the same time I also began signing my drawings and the writing "Jasü" had its first appearances. Instead of a regular u I wanted to use ü because it seemed to be smiling.
I still remember the first time she looked at my drawings with a thoughtful expression and then said: “Yeah, these are okay, but you can do even better.” That was something that I had never experienced before, especially not when it came to my drawings. People had always only complimented them, no one had ever set this kind of challenge to me. That’s what this teacher brought to me: Finally there was something challenging! I started learning to make digital art and using all kinds of different tools to draw thanks to the motivation brought by this new teacher. She always gave me suggestions and feedback but never demanded me to take certain kind of action so that I got to decide myself what to do to take the next step. In elementary school I had attended a similar kind of art club for kids but back then the teacher had been demanding me to draw certain subjects and use certain methods, which had only caused me to fight back. I had always been extremely stubborn and strong-willed and when it came to teachers, they needed to be very firm and determined to keep me under control. If I saw the teacher hesitating even a second, I’d immediately began to cause trouble. Especially when it came to making art, I had a very clear idea what I wanted to do, and if the teacher was lacking authority, I’d complain a lot, sulk, be noisy and do everything else but what I was supposed to be doing.
Through the years, art remained my favorite subject in school, but during the art lessons I never truly had the same passion that I had when I was drawing at home. Even in the art club, with my favorite teacher around, I was merely sketching. Only when I got to be on my own I truly got immersed in what I was doing. Then every so often I took a pile of new drawings and paintings to the art club teacher to hear what she had to say about them. I was eager to learn anatomy and for the first time in my life consciously made an effort to study the muscle and bone structure of humans and animals to get them look natural in my drawings. Starting high school, I found watercolors. All my life I had hated them (thanks to the horrible-quality equipment I had had to use), but then on the internet I found several people making amazing paintings with watercolors. This proved to me that it was actually possible to have the words “watercolor” and “pretty” in the same sentence. At that time, the reason that pushed me to learn to paint with watercolors was that they were a lot cheaper than copic markers, which I really wanted to have but couldn’t afford. Thus I decided to learn to paint with watercolors to save my precious money. I remember trying them a couple of times but quitting frustrated because I couldn’t produce the result I wanted to have. Then one day I simply had a feeling that “Today I’d succeed”. And I did. I started painting and somehow it just worked. This has happened to me now many times: A sudden feeling of absolute certainty that whatever I have wanted to create, I’d be able to create without any effort, just the way I have imagined. It’s like a question in my mind suddenly gets an answer, just like it was always right there only waiting for the right moment to make an appearance.
Since the age of 10, there had always been artists that I admired: I wanted to be like them. My own style was always worse than theirs and I repeatedly tried to copy their drawing or coloring styles, just to get frustrated because it didn’t work, and then get back to use my own style which I was not happy with. At regular basis I found a new artist to admire, a new style to try, and a new disappointment to face. Getting closer to the age of 18, I was so unhappy with myself and my art that I began to “hide behind it”. I was constantly drawing, more than ever: It was an obsession to me. Now however, I was only publishing my work online. My happy humans and animals turned into erotic gay-drawings. The times that I’d draw something and then happily go show it to my family and friends were gone. I was ashamed of the drawings I made so I only felt comfortable showing them on the internet, to a specific, like-minded audience, safe behind the disguise of different accounts. I was more skilled than ever, but still I was never truly happy with what I created.
At the age of 19 I moved to Rovaniemi to start studies at the University of Lapland to become an art teacher even though I was not a tiniest bit interested in it. I only knew I loved making art, but honestly, being an art teacher didn’t tempt me at all. But since I didn’t know anything else I could be doing,
I simply followed the expectations of other people and proceeded with my studies. I was stumbling blindly forwards without any destination. I only wanted to improve in making art, to get better, but there was no ending point to it. At the age of 21, having thousands and thousands of people from all around the world following, encouraging and complimenting my work on the internet, I still was unable to feel satisfied. I was making art only to seek acceptance.
I kept reaching out to “get better” without ever getting there. I couldn’t stop drawing, not even when it was tearing me apart. Even during the darkest times of my life, it brought me the reason to keep going. Despite all the pain and suffering that had come to surround it, there was still something about making art that held such a deep feeling of purpose that I’m sure I can never find a way to describe it to someone else.
Now, that sense of purpose has been steadily growing for over a year, as I got a new friend who reminded me of what it is to believe in myself. The change that I’ve gone through in just a year and a half has been almost unbelievable. Someone might say it’s been “too good to be true”, but since I experienced it all I’ve come to the conclusion that it has got to be true. I even wrote a book about that journey of mine. The book carries a title “From Misperception to Clarity” and I warmly recommend you to read it (once it’s published I’ll let you know) if you are interested in knowing more about the change that my life went through. Today, the overwhelming passion and excitement I felt for drawing when I was a kid is back. In fact, it only keeps growing day by day. Over a year ago I stopped making the gay-erotic drawings and it’s almost like I’ve returned to my childhood years: Now once more my papers are filled with joy and happiness, the animals and nature are back and in just one year I have improved more than I ever imagined I could, only because the pressure of “getting better” hasn’t been there. In fact, the less it has been there, the better I’ve become. For the first time in my life I feel that I am good enough. Also, I’m perfectly happy with my own style, which only keeps improving the more I accept it. I quit my university studies to fully focus on creating a career as an artist. Ever since making this decision I’ve continuously met people doubting me, discouraging me, even openly laughing at my dream. But the more they doubt, the more I believe. For me, the path of artist is the only path I want to walk. On this path I have nothing to lose or regret. This way I can always be true to myself and live my life fully, listening to my own passion and not someone else’s expectations, which I used to do most of my life.
I always wanted to make art. All my life. For many years I simply refused to see it but now I know it’s the only career I can imagine having in this life. Years ago people used to tell me that: “One day you could even become a real artist”, and now that I’ve decided to be the artist I’ve always wanted to be, people seem to be more or less horrified by it. Funny, isn’t it?