Hello! My name is Witticaster and this is my personal website, where I archive my drawings and show off all the stuff I get up to.
I do illustration and web development professionally. In my free time, I like to bang away at my various side projects, develop fantasy world concepts, take care of animals, study nutrition and psychology, and play video games if there’s any time left over.
Aeoptera – A DA paid adoptables project. I’d love to come back to it if I ever have time.
Fat Little Fish and The Bubble Nest – my fishkeeping escapades and betta rehab project. I still keep fish, I just don’t update about them online.
A Series of Cats – my first online comic: a collaborative gag-a-day strip about cats and technology.
Maneki Neko (archive) – A Gaia Online “growing/breedable pet” project. Growing and breedable pets were a huge and eccentric subculture back in the day. I was very proud of my shop and the lore I created around them!
The Chronicles – I spent a lot of time on Neopets and it shows in their detailed stories and petpages.
Mew’s Hangout – I made this Pokemon fan site at around age 10. Over the years, it expanded into a behemoth that featured forums, drawing boards, and tons of resources.
- Favorite color: peach
- Favorite foods: steak, curry, seafood
- Current location: Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
- Current pets: 1 cat, 2 dogs, 9 chickens, many freshwater fish
- Art Tools: Paint Tool SAI (main), Photoshop (SFX), these brushes, blood, sweat, tears
“Mewitti” is my username, “Witticaster” is my name. You can call me Witti, Mew, or whatever else floats your boat. “Mewitti” is a mix of my childhood username “Mewkitty” (my favorite Pokemon + my favorite animal) and “witticaster” is the word for someone who tries to be witty but isn’t good at it.
The winged mouse you see all over the place is a mascot I use to represent myself online. She’s an animal representation of my personality… a strange little critter that is hard to categorize but still kinda endearing. See more pictures of her here!
When I was little, “stranger danger” was a big deal online, so instead of my real name/photo I represented myself as a Mew based on old official art.
Same username, new look. Branched out into an “original” cat-bird design (still pretty Mew-like). I eventually returned to this design way, way later in life.
Started off fresh under a new username after I went to college. Danke was a conniving, somewhat edgy nekomata who always had her own agenda.
Rebranded into a tiny hedgehog as I became too depressed to identify with a confident scheming cat. She reflected how I felt small and unapproachable.
I’ve loved to draw seemingly from the time I could pick up a pencil. I spent my early years exhaustively documenting the inner lives of my pets and making up fictional cat species. I have no idea where this passion came from; nobody else in my family is artistic. But my parents were incredibly supportive and did the best they could to encourage their child’s oddball hobby.
I grew up as a military brat, spending half of my childhood overseas in places like Japan and Germany. We were technically civilians, but our lives revolved around U.S. military bases and I got the classic third-culture-kid experience of being dumped into tons of different cultures, languages, and people in quick succession.
Unfortunately, being a little kid, I didn’t really appreciate the unique experiences of being in all these cool countries. I just felt super stressed out that we had to move all the time and that I kept losing all my friends. My solution was to retreat hard into fictional and digital worlds that could not be so easily snatched away. Books and video games could come with me in a box. Online friends would stay in touch even if I moved. I spent most of my childhood plugged into video games and online communities, frequenting DeviantArt, Oekaki boards, Gaia Online, and Neopets. I was a very stereotypical nerd shutin, but I liked it that way. It gave me stability in an unstable world.
Luckily, Japan’s culture was compelling enough that it tempted me out my shell and transformed me into an unrepentant weeaboo. During middle school, my friends and I wore our Naruto headbands to class so consistently that the faculty decided they had to be some kind of gang symbol and banned us from wearing them. My art style became suffused with anime sparkly eyes and I learned the Japanese language fairly well. Japan also introduced me to Pokemon, which became my passion for most of my childhood.
When I was about 9 years old, I decided to express my love of Pokemon by borrowing the drag-‘n-drop webpage builder my mom was using to make online photo albums. My project turned out how you might expect: the very worst parts of ’90’s web design, as interpreted by an elementary schooler. I labeled it “Mew’s Hangout” and proudly sent it off into the World Wide Web. It was ghastly, but it was fun to make, and eventually people started visiting and paying attention to it. Before long, the drag-‘n-drop features weren’t enough for my needs, so I began teaching myself how to code so I could expand it. I spent my middle and high school years growing and managing Mew’s Hangout, and at its peak, it brought in over 1,000 unique visitors every day. This later led me to pursue a career in web development.
For my secondary education, I came back to the U.S. to attend a religious university (did I mention that I was raised Mormon? Hoo boy). To my dismay, when I arrived, I found that many of the art sites I used–like DeviantArt–were blocked by the draconian campus wifi for being “immodest.” I lived in the dorms, so I was basically locked out of my former communities. So I went looking for a new online home… and discovered a new group, apparently niche enough to fly under the campus wifi’s radar, that was entirely centered around colorful animals! They called themselves “furries” and seemed to love putting boobs on things that really didn’t need them. I had been drawing “animal people” since I was a wee babe, but had never really known about furries as a fandom until my puritanical school inadvertently drove me into their arms. (Talk about backfiring…)
I was immediately hooked by the creative culture, the diverse acceptance, and the neon-colored critters. I figured, if I was locked out of my old identity anyway, this was a good opportunity to start with a clean slate. So I came up with a different username and began a brand-new online life.
I always had a very clear life goal: becoming a self-managed independent artist. Making websites was profitable, but art was my passion. In the furry fandom, I saw many people making a living drawing cute colorful animals… living the dream! I also discovered virtual pet sites like Wajas and Gaia Breedables around this time, and the artists there led similarly enviable lives, getting paid to draw cool & adorable creatures. I spent my college years trying to overcome my severe ADHD and assorted personality problems so I could join their ranks.
But… I just couldn’t make it work. My fitful attempts at freelancing were swallowed up by poor communication, inability to focus, and crushing self-doubt. As I kept failing, chronic depression began to smother my life. I eventually accepted that there was no way I could succeed in the self-employed world while these problems plagued me. I couldn’t achieve my dreams, not right then. Maybe not ever. I had ADHD, after all; I might be physically incapable of mustering the discipline for something as difficult as self-employment. So, instead, I leveraged the skills I learned making Mew’s Hangout to jumpstart a more traditional salaried career in web development. Yes, I put a Pokemon fansite on my resume to get my foot in the door. It worked!
Even though I did develop a career that reliably paid the bills, my college years and early 20’s were honestly not a super great time. I struggled with severe depression and mostly just focused on scraping by. (Did I mention that being raised Mormon is a great way to develop debilitating psychological problems? Hoo boy.)
During this time, on something of a whim, I decided to practice my comic-making skills by teaming up with my partner and making a comic series together. I returned back to my old childhood accounts, the ones I’d left behind when I went to college, and began posting it up. I did not expect much to come of it. But to my surprise, my little comic got an overwhelming positive response. People loved the story, and even more than that, they were overjoyed to see me again. Reconnecting with my old passions and my old communities felt like coming home to myself again. It really helped me pull out of depression’s holding pattern.
I eventually ended up on an enormous self-improvement journey. It was long, it was incredibly painful, and I didn’t get much art done. But things got better! And slowly, my dreams began to recover too. I began to wonder if, perhaps, I could give my failed art career a second try.
One thing I realized was that I never had much artistic confidence because most of my popularity came from fanart. People paid attention to me because I drew Pikachu, not because I was anything special on my own. I felt like I hadn’t “earned” any of my fame and was just riding on the brand recognition of more successful people. This self-doubt had sabotaged me my whole life.
So as a homage to my childhood dream, and a kind of challenge to myself, I signed up to sell artwork at an anime convention… but I only offered original works, no fanart. To nobody’s surprise but my own, I hit it out of the park and turned a profit at my very first convention.
That experience gave me hope for the first time in, well, my whole life. Maybe I was worth something after all! I signed up to sell at more conventions, and began gingerly approaching art as a career instead of a hobby. Even doing it on the side of my “normal” job, it was profoundly fulfilling. I became more and more successful in the convention circuit, and after several years, my convention income was so successful that I decided to quit my normal job to do it full-time. I was ecstatic!
Three months later, the coronavirus epidemic hit, and every convention canceled indefinitely. Meanwhile, every person with a keyboard was trying to snatch up web development jobs, so finding employment in my normal career became extremely difficult.
I was suddenly forced to try and pay bills by selling on my online store (low profit margins) and doing personalized commissions (low profit margins, and very challenging considering my ADHD and various executive problems). Both of these things had been very minor income sources for me before, because they weren’t good ways for me to make money, and I knew that I struggled with them. But now, somehow, I had to make them work. I also developed chronic wrist pain which made it extremely painful to draw or type for more than a few hours at a time. The financial, physical, and social difficulties of 2020 pummeled my hard-won mental health into a fine puree, making it even harder to complete work in a timely way, which worsened the financial problems, which worsened the mental health, in a vicious downward spiral.
My newly fledged artistic career became a horrible trial by fire, and I made a ton of mistakes, but I also learned much, much quicker than I otherwise would have (it was do or die!) Plus, I got a ton and love and support from the friends and fanbase I’d built over the years. Even during the worst, most toilet-paper-starved times, they looked out for me and thanked me for bringing cute things into the world to give them smiles and happiness while the world was falling apart. I learned things about myself and my art that I never would have been able to discover in any other way.
Nowadays, my future is still uncertain, and every day is still full of struggle. But I’m enjoying the journey, and we’ll see where it takes me.