02.19.14 // Zen Pencils Adds Zest to Words of Wisdom
Written by AJ Dent, GeekGirlCon Staff Copy Writer
Two years ago this month, in February 2012, a website launched that would change the author’s life, and emotionally affect countless others across the globe.
Based in Melbourne, Australia, Gavin Aung Than worked as a graphic designer for nearly a decade before taking the plunge to quit his job in pursuit of his passion. His entire life, he’d expressed himself and concepts that resonated with him through sketches. Inspired by the lives of his heroes – dozens of people, from politicians to playwrights – he left the corporate world to launch his personal comic website, Zen Pencils.
Zen Pencils combines famous quotes and Aung Than’s visual artistry. Thanks to a classic comic book page structure with his own unique style, beloved words of wisdom unfold over the tapestry of his images. New life is breathed into the messages, fresh interpretations come alive, and previously unnoticed implications shine through each panel.
Picture a young couple’s breakup set to declarations by Albert Camus. Or Neil Gaiman’s advice carried out by a hospitalized child. Or depictions of a female wrestler paired with truths uttered by Marie Curie.
Absorbing Aung Than’s work is often rejuvenating and downright tear-jerking. It’s not only the worlds he creates that are inspiring, either; Aung Than’s own story has become an incredible tale of bravery and success. On December 18, 2013, he wrote on the Zen Pencils blog, “I am very glad to say that I am now making a full-time living purely from Zen Pencils. My income comes from the selling of the prints at Society 6, poster royalties, advertising on the site, and recently the limited edition T-shirts. It’s hard to believe that the big dream I had when I quit my job two years ago has actually come to fruition.”
Aung Than has also recently announced that he has signed a book deal, and a collection of his comics will be released in the second half of 2014. Due to intentionally identifying his passion, practicing it consistently, using it to bring joy to others, and decidedly devoting his life to it, Aung Than is a hero of an artist. He is living his art and making his art his living. Just check out these drawings of his own experiences alongside the counsel of Ira Glass!
It’s always fascinating to me to learn about people who’ve paved their own paths into self-defined success. Aung Than is proof that diving into your dreams is far better than staying in a safe and soul-stunting life, and I hope that his work continues to motivate others around the world.
Who are some of your heroes who’ve struck a fulfilling work-life balance? Where do you find inspiration to reach your goals?