Growing up in Hong Kong “as an only daughter in a conservative Asian household,” art was not on the agenda for Synical. Well, at least openly.
She was barred from all creative things—games, anime, drawing—and funneled into more competitive pursuits like academics and sport. They were seen as a distraction from the avenues of life seen as being more successful and lucrative.
But that didn’t stop her from achieving the one goal she had deep down: making art a full-time career.
“At school it was seen as a distraction from academics [and same for home]. Every single time my parents weren’t around and my teachers weren’t looking… I’d turn on my flashlight, open up my notebook, and start drawing.
“It wasn’t [until] later on in life that I asked my parents for an art tablet where they went ‘wait you’ve been doing art all this time?’
“I showed them my pieces of art that I had stashed underneath my bed in any notebook I could find, and they were like ‘oh my gosh, you were doing this in secret.’”
The pressures of childhood, and some other extenuating circumstances, shaped Synical into the prominent VTubing figure she is today. A talented artist known for her rapid speed and plethora of styles, even if you haven’t heard her name, you’ve probably seen her work.
She found a way to make some bank early on through the underground communities of DeviantArt before the virtual market flourished. When VTubing kicked off though, it allowed her to fuse her talents with her broader content creation passion sparked by idolized YouTubers like PewDiePie and Markiplier.
“I saw VTubing as a perfect medium for me, because while I am an Asian dragon turned jackalope girl with the horns and the bunny ears and tail, I like my creative outlets. I like adding fantasy onto my design and lore, but I really just use VTubing as a means to keep my anonymity on the internet.
“I saw it as a way where I could keep my private life private, and be as expressive as I want. I can keep myself a secret, as open and comfortable as I want to be, and be as expressive as I am.”
Being an artist in the 21st century isn’t like the olden days of sponsorships and free rides though. By many, even Synical’s own family, it’s frowned upon as a professional pursuit.
A move across the world did nothing to quell any fears. As VTubing expanded, and the cost of entry blew out, she had to turn back to her competitive side and push to succeed—almost out of spite sometimes—with a bit of support from figures like her husband.
“I saw so many people getting into VTubing and you look now, there’s so many VTubers and it’s so saturated. I had no idea if what I wanted to do was going to be successful. VTubing is a very expensive hobby at the very least and a very big investment.
“[My husband] helped me through a lot. He helps me now. He supports me emotionally and financially, allowing me to break into the job I’m most passionate about which is being a content creator and making people smile.”
With stability finally achieved and a growing fandom, Synical professes the old adage of “I never feel like I’m working a single day in my life doing my job right now.” But that’s not entirely true. Art is so broadly commercialized in the VTubing space, especially as it is the lifeblood of everything you see on Twitch and YouTube.
There’s so many different pathways and opportunities where VTubing has afforded to give artists a way to make money. But in doing so, it has also changed how she sees what was once the hobby she used to escape reality.
“I love doing art all the time. It’s exceptionally fulfilling, and I love watching myself improve with every piece I do.
“[But] it does change in the fact where I look at something and go ‘this could be profitable, this could help with the bills.’
“When I was younger, I was like ‘why do you have to put a price on everything you do?’ But in reality, unfortunately, money is what makes the world go around. If I cannot support my passions, I can’t work on them.”
Beyond being an artist though, Synical wants to be a streamer and community figure who can give someone a safe space—akin to what the old school YouTubers did for her growing up.
“I want to be that person who can give support to someone who is going through a rough time. [If] they’re having a bad day, I want to give them that support and safety net. So that, regardless of where you are in the world, at least there’s one person who understands and can tell you things will get better.”
Learn more about Synical’s story in her Behind The Model episode.