I, Jasmine Rosa Emilia Hintsala, commonly known as Jasu, was born in 1993, on March 16, in a tiny village of Finland called Oulainen. My family consists of 13 individuals: Mom, dad, five boys and six girls.
Ever since being a little kid I enjoyed playing alone. I’d rather leave the crowd of people to have my little adventures in solitude. The forest was my favorite place; there I'd spend hours imagining that I was the fastest horse in the whole entire world. There were people after me, trying to catch and imprison me, but I was the only horse they couldn’t catch. In other occasions I turned into a tiger; I would be the most skilled hunter that had ever existed. The human-hunters never managed to track me down but I’d sneak behind them and 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, naturally, animals didn’t wear any clothes. I’d run like a dog all around the house and the yard, not using my hands when it was time to eat and drink.
My dad once asked me what I was going to become when I’d grow up. Without hesitation, I blurted, “A tiger!” Dad laughed and asked, “What do tigers do?” To this too, I had a clear answer, “They eat small children and fat.”
When I was about 7 years old, we got a VHS player at home and I would sit hours watching different nature documentaries. Since my passion for animals and nature was always going hand in hand with my passion for drawing, the papers in front of me were filled with different animals. As mom saw me watching a documentary I hadn’t seen before, she’d often say something like, “…and now she’s going to spend the next two weeks drawing those dolphins”. That was exactly what happened too, for seeing the animals on the screen always made me want to draw them.
Above there’s a drawing from when I was 6 years old. Around this time, I often added diamonds and other jewelry all over the animals I drew, except when it came to predators. In their case, everything was usually covered in blood, like 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 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. A teacher asked us to come inside and gave us some paper, pencils and crayons so that we could draw. 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 process, 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 don’t think I’ll ever forget the feeling of surprise and confusion that her reaction caused me to have. I had always loved drawing but it had never occurred to me that I was somehow “good at it”. I don’t remember anyone commenting my drawings at home to tell me if they were good or bad. I had simply been drawing because it had been so much fun.
My mom used to hide all the drawing paper from me because of my tendency to use a huge pile of paper in just a couple of hours. This is why I started to draw on papers I found in the kitchen garbage bin; used envelopes, ads, pieces of cardboard and whatever things I could find with blank space on them. In third grade, I got a new elementary school teacher and for the next 4 years, we would be having our occasional arguments 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 some animal), then trees of different kind, bushes with berries of varied colors, pine cones all over the ground, anthill and mushrooms, tree stumps, stones of different sizes, others having moss on them and others having smiling faces. Of course, there would be a lot of animals; a bear lurking behind a tree, a moose, a reindeer, a stag with huge antlers, a hedgehog having a dinner with frogs beneath big leaves of rhubarb, 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 hole in a tree, the sun and clouds on the sky, maybe some rainy clouds too, then a rainbow, wolves, lynx and a weasel… All the animals that came to my mind needed to fit into the drawing.
Thinking back to those years, 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 the details, I rarely had non-finished works because of running out of time. Nonetheless, sometimes the teacher strictly forbade me to draw so many details, for I was able to go on with them forever. Every time he did this, I went for revenge and drew something very hasty and totally below my level of skill. At home, I would tape several papers together to create one huge paper and then simply start drawing detail after detail as the ideas kept popping into my mind.
Seen above an example of my drawing style in elementary school. On the right, there is an excellent example of what happened when I didn't get to draw what I wanted to and went for revenge instead.
As the years went by, I learned more and more about the fact that I was good at drawing. Eventually, the whole school knew about it. Drawing still remained the thing that I enjoyed doing the most, but slowly, it now 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 and getting better all the time but now, the purpose of my art was steadily moving away from fun. 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 often complained about the mistakes in them.
All the years in school, I had always been good at most of the subjects. My grades were excellent without me even trying. Though I was skilled, I lacked ambition. For me it was easy to memorize written text and then write it down on exam paper without truly understanding the meaning of it. I had good grades even in the subjects that I was not interested in but I never really cared about my school grades, only being good at drawing mattered to me.
Until the end of junior high I mostly drew different animals, especially horses. Then, at the age of 16, I found the world of manga and anime. They inspired me to start drawing comics with human characters. I had been interested in drawing comics since elementary school and for years, it had been my greatest dream to become a professional comic artist but I hadn’t had the patience to actually create comics with a lot of pages until now. Finding artists about my age online, I was inspired to learn to color my drawings properly. So far, it had been very rare for me to color any of my artworks.
Once a week I attended an art club where I met a teacher who was the first person ever to give me critique on my drawings. That was something I had never experienced before, not when it came to my drawings, for people had always only complimented them. Highly ambitious and eager to learn, I started practicing the creation of digital art and trying out different tools to improve my technical skills.
At the age of 16 my animals began to gain their natural anatomy. Around the same time the signature "Jasü" made its first appearances on my artworks. Instead of a regular u I wanted to use ü because it seemed to be smiling.
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 was truly immersed in what I was doing. 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 disliked using them (thanks to the very bad-quality equipment we had at school) but among the artists I was now following on the internet there were several creating amazing paintings with them. This proved to me that it was actually possible to get a beautiful and detailed result using watercolors. At that time, I decided to learn to paint with them because they were a lot cheaper than copic markers, which I desired but couldn’t afford. After buying my first set of watercolors, I remember trying them a couple of times, quitting frustrated because I couldn’t produce the result I wanted to have. Then one morning I woke up with a feeling of certainty about my success. I started painting and somehow it wasn’t hard anymore. Since that day watercolors have been my favorite medium when it comes to coloring.
Seen above is one of my very first watercolor paintings, made at the age of 17. I accidentally smudged ink on the bottom left corner and then made similar spots of ink everywhere in the background, to disguise my little accident.
Since elementary school, there were always artists that I admired; I wanted to be like them. My own style was never good enough for me and I repeatedly tried to copy their drawing or coloring styles, just to get frustrated because it didn’t work the way I wanted to. In the end, I’d always get back to my own style which I still was not happy with. At a 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 so ashamed of my art that I started to hide 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 only felt comfortable showing my artworks 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 such a career. I only knew I loved making art but being an art teacher didn’t tempt me at all. However, since I didn’t know anything else I could be doing, I simply proceeded with my studies. I was stumbling blindly onwards without a 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 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 even when it was tearing me apart. During the darkest times of my life, it brought me a reason to keep going. Despite all the pain and suffering that had come to surround it, there was still something about making art that brought me an incredible, deep feeling of purpose; something I don’t think I’ll ever find words to describe.
A watercolor painting made at the age of 20. Though it's clear to see that I was very skilled, I only kept spotting mistakes whatever I created.
Today, I have founded my own company, Jasu Wonder World, to make a living as an artist. I permanently quit my university studies at the age of 22 to chase my dream. The idea of my own artist career was inspired by a good friend of mine who has helped me a long way from the depths of depression to self-awareness and self-acceptance. Being the artist of Jasu Wonder World has now been my full-time job for over three years. It has not been an easy journey though; I’ve had to do and face things I’ve been scared of my whole entire life. However, all these experiences have given me inspiration for several stories, which I want to create and share with the world. I’m on my way of fulfilling the dreams I remember having as a little kid and I cannot even start to imagine how proud that little Jasu would be to know what she’s really going to become when she grows up.