Here at The Shona Project, we are lucky to have an amazing ambassador group with some seriously talented ladies. Our newest member is Jessie Griffin, the creator of One Piece Missing. Now, when we say this girl has talent, we mean it! We had a chat with her and well, everyone, please meet Jessie Griffin.
So Jessie, could you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m Jessica Griffin and I’m from County Cork in Ireland, and I’m an artist and Animation student at St. John’s. Autism and living on the spectrum affect me in many ways. For one my reading and spelling aren’t the best from Dyslexia but I get by.
Most of my struggles lie in connecting and understanding other people. Usually, I feel it is very hard to understand what people are talking about and constantly feel like I’m the only one that doesn’t understand an inside joke the rest of the world is in on. I always want people to know what I’m struggling with and what it’s like, to let them know that I’m trying.
Jessie, could you tell us a little about your school life? What was it like? What were the challenges you faced?
In school, I struggled with feeling like I didn’t belong, homework, and tests. Tests cause me huge amounts of stress and I constantly felt alone in primary school due to never feeling like I clicked with anyone. These issues also increased due to the fact that I wasn’t receiving the correct help for my difficulties for a year or so after being diagnosed. When I switched schools, it got better but my anxiety was always there. It got particularly bad during Junior Cert year and I eventually went to Cork Life Center and that’s when everything got much better.
We have heard so much about your creativity, could you tell us about your comic ” One Piece Missing “? What is it about and what inspired you to write it?
The comic One Piece Missing was created as an attempt to help people also on the spectrum and provide comfort in the fact that they’re not alone and to educate people on the struggles that we face every day. One Piece Missing was admittedly inspired by me feeling frustrated at the fact I always had to explain myself and what Autism even was to others. The book follows my life, everything in the book actually happened and all the people that show up are either real people or inspired by them.
Could you tell us a little about what you are up to next? Do we have another comic to look forward to?
At the moment I am working on a special edition sequel for One Piece Missing, which will cover switching school and the Leaving Cert to college. After this comic is done, I’m planning on taking a break from One Piece Missing so I can work on other comics that I’ve wanted to do for years.
It admittedly feels strange to have a book out at this age, I don’t know if it’ll ever fully hit me that I’ve done it. But that’s ok, I’m really happy that I was able to get the opportunity to do this and it means a lot to me that others are finding it helpful.
Could you tell us a little about your plan for college? And how you are feeling about starting college during a global pandemic?
When it comes to college I am planning to go to the next level with the goal of animating my first finished video to a song. I’m hoping if I can achieve that I’ll be able to start bringing more stories to life.
On the topic of attending school during a pandemic, I’d rather not, the biggest struggle for me, is the face masks. I can’t read people’s expressions that well, it annoys my skin and I am worried I’ll miss out on all these amazing experiences that are meant to be experienced alongside others. I’m just hoping things will return to a point where I can be without my mask while in the classroom and be able to enjoy going out with classmates. I’ll try my best but it all depends.
What advice would you give a young girl who feels that a career in animation/writing might be for her? Where does she even start?
I feel the best advice I can give to someone wanting to go into a writing, comic, or animation career is to continue practicing and figure out what you are drawn to.
In my case, I am drawn to stories that deal with hard subject matters such as the beautiful darkness of the supernatural in phantom tales of the night, relationships between characters like in heartstoppers and social pressure in Mulan, and the eye-opening depiction of people in wheelchairs seen in Perfect World. All these things I connect to, so I try to explore them more in a meaningful way in my writing.
I am always attracted to expressions, character designs, and the actual art in many mediums from games to comics. Some examples of expressions can be seen in Crimson chains comics where the characters express things so well you can understand them without words, her characters are also beautifully designed which adds to it.
I also look at art that achieves something I stride towards or on its own is a work of art. My favorite example of this is Phantom tales of the night.
In animation, I look for all the above. I love characters with amazing expressions, interesting designs, and endearing stories, so being able to see them move and feel alive is fascinating to me. I also adore it when characters are animated differently.
Could you give your top 3 tips that you wish you could have given your younger self?
Three tips I would have loved to hear as a kid are…the sooner you stop seeing your autism as a disadvantage the easier life will be, try not let your fear of not being understood control you, and don’t be afraid of change.
Who inspires you? Who/what makes you want to get out of bed in the morning and take on the day?
I’m usually inspired by my family and friends. They push me to keep going. I also feel pushed to get up to try to reach my goals.
Pineapple on a pizza, yes or no?
I’ve never tried pineapple on pizza, to be honest.
What’s your favourite song to bop along to?
At the moment I love listening to NateWantsToBattle’s song “so sus”, Chase Holflder’s cover of “firework” and Billie Eilish’s ‘Lovely’
What was your favourite holiday that you’ve been on?
I really enjoyed our trip to New York.
If you loved hearing about Jessie and her One Piece Missing comic and want to keep up with what her latest project is, be sure to check out her Instagram below 😁
View this post on Instagram
I know this upload is a bit late, but I really wanted to upload something for #worldautismday2020 so here’s a simple little post! Hope you like it! I hope you all Take care of yourselves and each other in these hard times, with teamwork we’ll get through it! Remember to spread and support love💙💙 After all team work makes the world a better place 💙💙💙 #art #autism #autismawareness #onepiecemissingcomic
If you would like to support us and the work that we do, you can donate below ❤