Ever wonder where my crazy sounding AIM/Hotmail name (amongst others) comes from?
Once upon a time, when I was a youngin', my neighbor, Sandy, bought me "Ed Emberley's Big Green Drawing Book," since whenever she saw me, I was always drawing. I had never heard of the illustrator, who used simple shapes to teach one how to draw just about anything.
I flipped through the dragons, animals and other green things, until I reached the section on "Zortians." Zortians were really just a conglomeration of green circles in the shape of an alien, with three stick legs, a pig-like snout and seemingly one large eyeball. I was immediately hooked.
Why do I draw funky green space creatures all the time as a signature? Is it "zort" (as in the Pinky exclamation) or "zortian" (like "martian")?
I started drawing zortians (or "zorts" as I quickly shortened it to, after their home planet's namesake) on EVERYTHING. First it was mimicking Emberley's drawings. Then I started to imagine what a Zortian world would look like, and even came up with a story about visiting the planet "Zort" myself.
When I started middle school, I would draw them during class, on tests and worksheets, as they took on human personalities by sarcastically mocking writing samples, pointing out math equations and rules, and generally keeping me occupied during lectures. One time I did get in trouble (History class...Ms. Barnard had no sense of humor), but for the most part they either went unnoticed or were gleefully encouraged by teachers who knew I was a [weirdly] imaginative girl who always did well, and just wanted to express herself.
And that's what it really became for me: an expression of my moods, ideas and thoughts. Zorts were my alter-egos, springing to life in pencil on the page, and saying what most of the time, I was too afraid to say myself. Middle school was a shitty place, and as I retreated into my quiet world, I let them speak for me. To exhibit those things I so desperately wanted (and needed) to convey, in order to prove that even though I was labeled "sensitive" and "shy," there was a real Tara inside just waiting to burst out, with all the humor and zest of a cutely precocious little green alien.
Why am I still using this simply, childhood drawing in my life today (at the old age of 23)?
Zorts are a symbol to me, in a way, of my childhood, of my humor, and my ability to express myself. When I draw one, it's as if I'm saying, "This can only be from Tara." I'm sure many people draw or have drawn zorts before. It's a popular book, and I always worried that by using someone else's drawings, I wasn't being myself at all.
But the important thing is that I have made them my own, bestowed a personality on these whimsical creatures that only I could have crafted. And now that I am older, I have learned that I can show my true colors to anyone.
It's an ongoing process, and I'm not completely there yet. But these little guys only reinforce that growth, and stand as a reminder that I will always be unique in my own odd, alien little way.
[Stay tuned for more Zortian photos in the near future!]