We had the good fortune of connecting with Thomas Fates and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Thomas, other than deciding to work for yourself, what was the single most important decision you made that contributed to your success?
Never giving up. Honestly no matter how cheesy or cliche it may sound I’m truly beginning to understand that simple answers like this are usually the right ones. There were countless days where I second guessed myself and thought maybe I’m waisting my time. But I just couldn’t let it go, creating means to much to me to stop. I’m glad I never did and never will.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m a manga artist who creates pieces of some of the most of popular anime characters in the industry. I draw and implement my own style to the characters that gives them a sense of uniqueness to them while still knowing who these characters are and the stories they come from. I sell my work to people from all over who are fans of these stories and characters.. As fun as it is things definitely weren’t easy. In March 2020 when the pandemic first started I was working three jobs and lost them all, I became dangerously close to losing my apartment and becoming homeless. I have no family to help me, grocery stores were almost completely empty, there were aisles filled with people fighting over tissue, toilet, paper, milk and more. I had little to no food in the house, no income, my unemployment paperwork was backlogged along with thousands of other people so I never got unemployment. There were homeless people everywhere and still are. Along with none of us being allowed to leave our homes and me being in a new city and alone it all felt hopeless. But I was never good at just sitting and doing nothing and with all this free time now even during this hopeless situation I kept drawing, I kept writing and telling stories. I would draw from the morning all the way till late at night. I’d get so into that I wouldn’t even notice how much time had passed. Eventually it felt weird not having a pen in my hand and creating. It helped me maintain my sanity and I told myself if I could just get through this and figure it out and I think I really can make it! I couldn’t get a job for months, fell into almost 12,000 dollars, almost sued by my landlord for failure to pay rent due to the pandemic. In the summer of 2020 when we were given the okay to work I immediately went out and got a job at a restaurant. I worked everyday there while drawing everyday in between whenever I could. I got out of debt in October that same year. I bought equipment right after to create work digitally so that I could do more and become more efficient, building my audience on Instagram, started acting school to pursue my dreams for storytelling and to become part of something greater than myself so that people can know how powerful stories are and have fun making them. Now two years later I’m here and I couldn’t be more happier for myself that I sat down in an empty chair, in a empty apartment taking a blank piece of paper and trying to make something out of it. I learned how to become my own hero with the sketches that I created.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
In San Diego I’d definitely take my friends downtown and show them Petco Park and take them to a game. Social tap is a go to restaurant that’s right in front of the park where I’d take them to have some banging food and good drinks before we go to the park. Noble Experiment is also a dope place to grab a drink and have a good time. Mad house comedy is a fun spot to hang too. I’d also hit up mission beach and enjoy the day there with tons of vendors there where we could buy merch, hit up great restaurants and just enjoy the beach day vibe.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to shoutout Conrad Gonzales. He was a teen director in the Boys and Girls Club that I grew up going to in my hometown Lompoc. He was more of a mentor than anything and one of the very few people who acknowledged me. He said I had potential and expected great things from me. Although he’s no longer with us, what he gave me when he said that I still carry around everyday. For seeing there’s something more to me than even I knew I’m gonna keep pursuing my dreams. This shoutout is for him. Thank You Conrad. I’d also like to shoutout Steven Pressfield the author of the book “The War of Art”. During the start of the pandemic I read his book and then immediately bought the next three following after. It’s changed my life, perspective and help me take pride in being an artist.

Instagram: www.instagram.com/sketchinhero

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