Never Stop Creating: Driven to Draw - Holeecrab
Well - We’re back after the Winter Holidays, New Year celebrations, and everything in between has passed us! I hope you all were able to recoup, catch up with family and loved ones (if it was feasible), and enter the new year with a fresh mindset. We ourselves took some well deserved time off behind our cameras, writing, and cars to recharge for a fresh beginning, right as 2022 unrolls.
When I said we would be giving the spotlight to fellow automotive content creators, I did mean creators of every possible content. So not just strictly automotive photographers, videographers, or writers. After all: automotive culture - or anything related to cars to be precise, has many universal applications, and it's hard not to find a way to incorporate it in various means.
And one of those is a category that is growing more than ever, thanks to social networks like Twitter, Instagram, and Pixiv. If you haven’t figured it out yet, next on the ongoing ‘Never Stop Creating’ series: we’re featuring our first artist!
Chances are if you’re like me, you have spent a lot of time browsing Instagram’s ‘Explore’ page - scrolling end on end on various photos from similar hashtags or users you already follow. Occasionally, you come across a photo reshared of those generic ‘JDM etc.’ profiles that are just setup to rake in the mass likes and exposure. Or when you keep track and follow a lot of artists & sticker/merch stores, you find yet more artists and brands to note down.
In this case, it was a combination of the latter (and what appeared on my feed since I set my account to follow anything trending using the ‘#itasha/#hololive’) hashtags, that led me to this week’s content creator.
(I blame a combination of Hololive memes and letting the Vtuber void consume me since early 2021 for the most part.)
Meet Abi, aka @holeecrab or re.holeecrabstuff as he is known online.
Based out of Indonesia, Abi began his content creator journey as an artist from his childhood days. Combined with his love for motorsport and Gran Turismo 2, these two eventually combined to form the basis of much of the art he produced nowadays.
“Drawing was one of the hobbies I kept doing until I grew up, though I just started to take it seriously 5 years ago. Back then when I drew, I just drew anything that came to mind or I wanted to draw. Later on, I felt something that combined both of my interests - cars and otaku stuff, would serve as a great artistic focus.”
Art is still more of a pastime for Abi, but when the creative urge hits: he gets to work and posts what he has drawn up online; largely on the favorite platforms of choice for fellow artists: Twitter and Pixiv. “I've been kind of doing these drawings sporadically; putting my stuff on the internet, and ended up finding people who actually appreciate my art. Later on, as I built up my portfolio and started posting more of my art online, some of them have commissioned me to draw their cars.”
“My art took off and got more attention recently, no doubt due to reasons related to the current pandemic. I do it as a hobby and side gig now, but I like the idea of doing it full time. It would be great if I could make a living out of it (as a recent graduate with a lot of time on their hands, still looking for a job).
While much of his art focuses on cars, you might be surprised to know that the artist himself does not currently own a car! “Unless you count the Toyota Kijang our family uses, I mainly use a scooter and public transport to get around at the moment. But in the future, I definitely want to be able to get my own car!”
Even though Abi mainly does art as a hobby, he can already name a few memorable works and highlights his hobby has brought him. “I once had a client who asked me to draw something that he wanted to use as merchandise at SevenStock - one of the largest gatherings of Mazda rotary enthusiasts in the world. Isami Amemiya (the founder of Japanese garage RE Amemiya) was invited as a guest to attend that year. As a gift, the client wanted to give Isami the art he commissioned me to create; so he asked me to include some references to RE Amemiya.”
“As a joke, I casually asked him to do anything with my drawing - like make it a print or something. After the show was done, my client sent me a pic of Isami Amemiya; holding his baggage, with my drawing as a sticker he applied on it! It has even been featured on the official RE Amemiya website if you want to see it for yourself.”
"..as a joke, I casually asked him to do anything with my drawing - like make it a print or something.."
“Even to this day, it’s pretty cool to think about how my art got noticed by a high profile figure in the car scene!
But random commissions aside, one way Abi has gotten his name out there has been through a series he does every October called ‘Cartober’; having just completed the latest series for 2021. What started out simply as a way to source some inspiration/motivation for him to focus on creating a regular flow of art and provide an excuse to refine his drawing skills, is now one of his most regular features.
“I just felt like I was never able to work on something in a "proper" manner which made me struggle a lot with both personal and work progress, so I felt like doing a month-long series that eventually became "Cartober". This month-long series helps me progress as an artist; as it forces myself on learn how to draw in a presentable fashion on a schedule and time limit.“
"I ask a bunch of my followers on Twitter and Instagram what kind of combination of cars and characters they would like to see. I then mix this with characters and cars I actually want to draw.."
Since beginning it three years ago, the formula to create each drawing from the firs to last day of the month has remained the same. The artistic direction for each year's entry begins with surveying his followers and himself brainstorming what characters and cars to illustrate. “To get ideas for each year, I ask a bunch of my followers on Twitter and Instagram what kind of combination of cars and characters they would like to see. I then mix this with characters and cars I actually want to draw. Once I gathered enough ideas, I then set about drawing each pair; one for every day of October!”
Out of all the ones he has drawn, Abi holds one with a Mclaren F1 in high regard as his personal favorite. “My favorite one is probably a drawing of a McLaren F1 with Makise Kurisu on it, which I made for 2020’s ‘CarTober’ Both were one of my favorite cars and characters, and I feel the two complement each other. “
"My favorite one is probably a drawing of a McLaren F1 with Makise Kurisu..."
Some of my personal favorites from 2021's CarTober I’ve included here. For one, being someone who religiously still plays Girls Frontline and has a car dedicated to one of the characters, AK12 and an Aston Martin DBS (007-Spec) was one of my highlights.
Hololive fans loved Abi’s one of many contributions of Vtuber and car mashup art. I think no one will ever tire of Oozara Subaru and Subaru Impreza jokes.
Any Fate/Grand Order fans here? Yes: make all the Lancer and Mitsubishi Lancer (Evolution) references you want.
Overlanders and Laidback Camp, specifically Rin-chan and a Hummer H1 w/a Toyota Sports 800 on the roof rack. Definitely a pair that just works.
You know what I said earlier about 2021 being the year of Hololive/Vtubers? Abi agrees, as evident in CarTober 2021..
Abi ensured his OC [original character] and mascot for his brand, Mariko wasn't left out in this art series either: With the perfect Nissan Silvia (S14) to boot as well.
Even if you don't know one or any of the characters, but are familiar with the cars to some extent, this art catches your attention. I don't even know who Jalter is, but I do know a J's Racing S2000 when I see one.
Took me awhile to get this - with my attention drawn mainly to seeing the Peugeot 306 WRC rally car in iconic Clarion livery. Then you realize the connotations of 'saber lion' and the Peugeot logo (a lion).
Contrary to assumptions, Abi doesn't recount of running out of ideas of cars and characters to draw throughout the past October. Every idea naturally came to be, or had a follower on social media come up with a good idea for what to draw. So he was never short of inspiration.
Eye-catching art aside, there’s a reason why people like Abi stick out as an automotive content creator (and one of many reasons why I picked people like him for this series). If you remember from Otaku Month, you might remember one recurring idea that was prevalent across all the events we featured and a notion felt across all of the event organizers. That what they did offered an opportunity for both the car and otaku communities & cultures to connect; considering both of these groups rarely find a time and place to interact with each other outside of their usual spaces. To artists like Abi, art has definitely been a regular outlet that has found common ground for the two cultures; people included to share their passions.
“I agree art is a great way to combine the two interests as one - or find ways they share common ground. On one side, anime/manga media and characters regularly serve as inspiration for what to draw and similarly, cars are also a great base - or common theme to include for illustrative works too."
“Things like stickers and merchandise (t-shirts, lanyard/keychains, hoodies etc.) can easily bring together car enthusiasts and otakus, or serve as one way for you to express your love for both. Looking at them now being made everywhere is always great to see - I still remember those moments where otaku culture was seen as a niche culture that was thought as never being able to mix with anything else. But now people embrace its presence anywhere and I'm all for it.“
"..art is a great way to combine the two interests as one - or find ways they can share common ground ."
" Especially when you're talking about 'itashas' - liveries and stickers on cars, that is the peak of both cultures uniting as one. I think it's cool when they do it right and when people do it out of genuine love for both cars and otaku cultures.”
Among the successes here and there, the journey as a creative hasn’t been without a few bumps along the way. CarTober, the main thing that has gotten Abi known out there at one point, skipped a year since he wasn’t able to get drawings done for all days of the month. And as with any content creator, burn out has been a common experience.
“I’ve had a lot of burnt out lately due to having art-block - where you just don't feel like making something even though you have to. Personally, I do think if you choose your own way of making content as a living, the effect will be even worse since there's a part of obligation and responsibility on what you do.”
“To deal with setbacks like this, I personally think it's something you have to figure out by yourself - and it’ll take time. Personally I just do whatever I think can reset what is on my mind - like going for a walk, or sleep it off".
"I’ve had a lot of burnt out lately due to having art-block - where you just don't feel like making something even though you have to.."
As for where he wants to go next as a content creator, Abi is content with just going along with the flow of things; he’s not too focused on getting worldwide attention or becoming a major featured artist. “I do feel like I'm reaching a stage & presence I never thought would reach and I'm grateful for what I’ve achieved so far. So I'm currently content on thinking of ways to produce better content and hopefully more people will appreciate what I draw. You never know what happen in the future!”
The same ‘go with the flow’ attitude Abi applies to his creative journey extends to advice he would give to fellow automotive content creators, whether they involve art in some way or not.
“Simple: Go crazy with what you are passionate about and show your love towards your interest.”
Go crazy with what you are passionate about and show your love towards your interest..
If you want to keep up with what Abi is creating or check out his portfolio (especially CarTobers), you can follow him at his respective social media accounts below!