Birthday Surprise!


Every year my husband, Nick, finds some way to surprise me for my birthday. He’s gotten me my favorite cake, taken me on trips, thrown surprise parties…It’s always something great. This year, he decided to recreate a TV show for me.

We enjoy watching this Japanese show called Game Center CX. It’s a show where they challenge this guy, Arino, to play old video games and beat them. The challenges usually last about a day, but are edited into an hour. In addition to the challenge, they do some flashbacks on old games and have segments that show different game centers located in Japan. For one of their shows, they decided to do a live challenge, which meant that the show was broadcast in real time. Fans faxed in tips (this was an older segment) and words of encouragement to help Arino reach his goal. Nick decided that he would recreate this particular episode for me.

My challenge was Super Mario World. Just like in the show, I was given an outfit, an array of Japanese snacks, helpers to get me through my challenge, and fans that “faxed” in tips, called, and sent me presents of encouragement. It was so much fun! Nick had me believing that people were watching me play on a live stream (which was a little embarrassing, since I kept dying in some simple parts) and sending in the words of encouragement as I went along. In reality, he had people pre-email him everything, and he printed it all out at random intervals throughout the day. It was so creative and so much fun! And the encouragement that I got from everyone was really creative as well: hand-made gifts, drawn pieces of artwork, poems…

Since everyone had put so much work into this, I felt compelled to send a thank you note, and I wanted it to be something that I spent more time on than just a quick email. So I created the artwork above and personalized the message, when I could. For the background, I just did a quick recreation of a screen shot. I knew I was going to cover most of it up, so I didn’t want to allow myself to agonize over every little detail. For the princess, I found pictures of her online and made a sketch. I then went into Illustrator and recreated her, using my sketch as a reference. I could have scanned the sketch in or just looked at the pictures online as I drew, but I thought this would be more of a challenge than my usual way of drawing. The pen tool is not as easy for me to use if I’m drawing freehand and not tracing!

My birthday was a great day, and I hope that everyone enjoyed the thank yous as much as I enjoyed their contributions! I can’t wait until next year!



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