Living and learning in a global pandemic. One high school senior shares her experience.

May 14, 2020

Although it’s uncommon for young people to suffer long-lasting adverse health effects from COVID-19, they have still been impacted by the social-distancing consequences of this pandemic, especially in the radical upheaval to their educational and personal lives.

Wacom reached out to some creative educators, to better understand how students and instructors are managing in this new reality. Long-term friend of Wacom, Assistant Professor and comic artist, Bryan Tillman, introduced us to a remarkable home-schooled high school senior named Sam, who had been taking one of his classes through a home-school organization. Sam, better known as Soyochii on Instagram, has been posting her art online since 2017, and has impressively grown her account to over 53,000 followers.

Sam has been using Wacom tablets ever since she started drawing digitally. “I remember my sister bought her first Wacom tablet in 2015. I was 13 at the time, and thought it was the coolest thing ever. My sister would let me use her tablet when she wasn’t using it, and I was hooked.  My love of digital art grew from this first encounter with Wacom.”

Sam - AC work in progress

Changing horses midstream

Although Sam was primarily home schooled, she took a few courses to develop her education outside the house. “The pandemic has definitely changed things for me academically. After the pandemic all my classes switched to online with little instructor interaction. This is difficult when you are trying to learn something like a foreign language or physics.  Creatively, I find the pandemic and quarantine have impacted my productivity.  My audience has always been online, so this was not affected. However, I do miss my social life. A lot of my art is influenced by my interaction with the world.”

Interacting with course material

Sam recently got a Wacom One and is really enjoying using it. “It’s made my schooling a lot easier. I am a highly visual and kinesthetic learner, and the Wacom One provided me a way to feel like I’m really interacting with course material. I am taking Japanese and have been writing the Kanji and Hiragana characters on the Wacom.  I feel more connected to the characters that I am drawing.  I can easily save my work, and taking notes is much easier.  Being able to color code this work is also helpful.  Another great thing is the portability of the Wacom One.  I can move around with it easily.”

Adapting and coping with the new normal. The benefits…

Like many of us, Sam has found that the pandemic and subsequent quarantine have given her an abundance of time on her hands. She has begun pursuing activities and crafts that she would not normally have had time to do, like sewing and hobby mechanics. “I’ve been exploring new styles of art and seeing how they fit with my style.  The Wacom One makes this super easy. The other day I was designing a dress I want to make, on the Wacom One.”



Sam says that the most challenging aspect of the pandemic has been the lack of contact with her peers and school friends. “I think this has taken a toll on my emotions. After class, my friends and I would meet at a Korean bakery near our school and talk about our day. I really miss that. I feel like I was just settling into a satisfying rhythm for this school semester and now that has been cut short. I think many of my generation will come out of this with a stronger appreciation for friendship and physical contact. We live in a generation of social media, and the pandemic has shown me that is not enough to be satisfying.”

…and opportunities

I feel that my life has not changed all that much, especially when you consider students whose families are losing their homes and for whom tuition is impossible.  For those of us who are fortunate to not be worried about our next meal,  this is an opportunity to try new types of art, to slow down a bit and focus on something new.  Attempt to stay connected to your friends.  When you have time, reach out and try to keep the connection strong.”


Seeing into the future

Sam plans to continue her education at a four year college and would like to intern at one of the large animation houses  “One day in the future, I would like to have a career in animation or illustration where I am working on projects that I love, will have my own home with a sweet cat or two, and lots of friends that I can share my life with.  I think this would be a happy existence.  Additionally, I would very much like to travel, especially to Asia.  I think this would be very fulfilling.”


Growing in skill, growing in confidence

As Sam has grown and developed her art skill, she’s gained confidence in sharing her art. Sam shares that when she first started posting on Instagram, she would have her sisters hit the “post” button for her  because she was too nervous, and thought her art wasn’t good enough or would be judged harshly. “A lot has changed since then,” Sam says, “Now I really enjoy sharing my art. It’s given me so many opportunities that I never thought I would have. I’ve met so many interesting people, and I’ve made a lot of new friends in the process. I’m not so sure I am proud of the number of followers I have on Instagram, it is more that I am awed that so many people appreciate my art. I think social media and the tools that  Wacom provides have literally changed how art is produced and appreciated.  I never thought I’d be working with Wacom, and I’m so grateful for the chance!”


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