Community Focus - Plumli

May 31, 2023 - Asians @ Bungie

In celebrating AANHPI Heritage Month, the Asian@Bungie club is glad to have this opportunity to talk more. A few of you may have noticed that we released a beautiful pin designed by Asian@Bungie, via the Bungie Store. Players can also support the AANHPI Heritage Month through the Bungie Foundation with a $10 donation through the Bungie Foundation and receive the “Harmonic Waves” Destiny 2 emblem. The emblem will also be included with the pin purchase.

We would like to also introduce to you a community artist whose artwork has revealed their passion and vision in blending their AANHPI cultural heritage and the world of Destiny 2. Please welcome—Plumli!

Hello Plumli! First of all, please tell us a little bit about yourself, and how do you feel about getting in the spotlight for Bungie’s AANHPI Heritage Month?

Hi, I'm Plumli and I'm excited to be here to talk about video games, art, and AANHPI stuff. Those are pretty much the only three things I ever talk about.

As my Twitter profile says, I am a part-time con artist and full-time Rob Liefield apologist. I'm one of those people you see selling art under a tower of posters at anime conventions. The second part of my job description is more aspirational, I'm actually a full-time graphic designer, and I wish I could be paid to be Rob's defense attorney. I'm also an Asian American who draws Guardians.

Your art has been nothing short of phenomenal, what got you into Destiny?

I started playing during the Destiny 2 beta. I've always gotten motion sickness easily, so I was very wary of playing an FPS. But from the moment I started, I noticed how absolutely buttery smooth the movement and POV was. I thought I was going to get into Destiny because I love the aesthetic of armored bounty hunters in a far-flung future, but no; it's how good it feels to just walk around and click heads. As for drawing Destiny, I had been involved in fandom culture and internet art for a long time, so when Forsaken rolled around, I figured I was obsessed enough that I should start drawing it. Also, I saw Byf's video on the Book of Sorrow and it was like brain worms.

As we all know, the stories and characters in Destiny encompass a wide range of AANHPI heritages and cultures. Are there any specific ones that you’re most fond of?

When Drifter was introduced, I noticed a lot of people had the same reaction I did. This guy looks like the fun uncle everyone has, but he has been in trouble with the law too many times for comfort. He is the uncle relatives tell you not to end up like. He's the guy who rolls up to your parent’s house after three years of no contact with a get-rich-quick scheme. I love him. There's a Malfeasance ornament called the Red String of Fate which has Drifter's signature rustic jade look. In folklore, the Red String of Fate ties destined lovers together. The Drifter is a character who has run away from his fate from the very moment he opened his eyes; his fate as one of the Traveler’s chosen, the selected prophet of the Nine, and of course, the final fate that awaits all. The jade coin motif is quite cool too, after all, what's the difference between luck and destiny?

Characters like him flesh out Destiny as a world where even after all countries erode away and we huddle together for warmth under a cold unknowable god, our cultures and way of life will be given to the people of the future. It's in our clothes, the art on our objects, and the stories we tell.

As an artist, have you ever felt that connection between your artwork and your heritage? What inspires you the most in delivering your personal taste when making Destiny 2 fan arts?

For me, art has always been a way to be closer to my culture and to connect to people who have similar experiences to me. I make a lot of nostalgic art and objects based on food items and nursery rhymes, so sometimes when people come by my table at events and tell me about memories of drinking chrysanthemum tea from a juice box as a child. Non-Asian people would sometimes come by and tell me about how much they love condensed milk on bread. It's simple interactions like those that remind me to be happy, not only for the life we have lived but for the people that lived it with us.

As for the second part of the question, I really love the armor design of Destiny 2. I love exploring the details and design choices for the armor sets I draw—I spend so much time trying to nail the littlest of details. Destiny armor is so rich in eclecticism, references, and design lore I love it. For example, the gear from the Moon features contemporary-looking clothing and weapons covered in knots, rags, feathers, and strange talismans. It suggests to me Golden-Age astronauts joined a voodoo cult to exorcise demons from the abyss—with guns. At the risk of making people who hate the fact I just mentioned the Dreambane set question my personal taste even more, my favorite armor set of all time is Scatterhorn. It looks like my Warlock crawled through a dumpster behind a Fallen cantina that definitely does not have an alcohol license. It says a lot about what kind of place the Tangled Shore is. Destiny 2 players feel strongly about what armor sets they like and do not like, and I think that speaks strongly to how diverse and imaginative these sets are. In Destiny 2, you can roleplay as a space marine, pretend you're front-row Paris Couture, be a cowboy, an occultist, the knight in shining armor, or glow with the strength of a thousand Gambit Jadestones.

Not to exaggerate with stereotypes, but I guess we’re all familiar with how Asian parents often get wary about their kids making art or playing video games. Have your parents been through a similar dilemma? What does your heritage mean to you as an artist and a video game player?

I'm sure every immigrant's kid by the age of 16 has thoroughly psychoanalyzed the geo-social-economical-cultural-political conditions of their parents' upbringing enough to write several university papers on it, so I don't think I need to go too deep into what makes Asian parents the way they stereotypically are. In short, many immigrants want the world for their children, but the path to the world is very narrow, defined, and with a clear purpose to them. Playing video games after school at a friend’s house and drawing anime in secret notebooks is definitely not part of the path.

Contrary to my parents' anxieties, art and video games have given me pretty much all my job opportunities, and life-long friends and led to some pretty amazing experiences. I grew up in a mixed low-income neighborhood. In high school, me and my friends (all of different races, backgrounds, and abilities) would all sit around the library computers watching Halo machinimas and talking about video games, anime, and comic books. In my experience, I have always found the nerd community more accepting of minorities and LGBTQ folks. All this stuff we love connects us to vastly different groups and gives us a way to be a part of the world.

Are there any fellow AANHPI artists who you’re particularly inspired by, or any fellow AANHPI community artists who you’d like to shout out?

Honestly, I feel really uncomfortable answering this question because I know a lot of artists are very defensive about their identities for safety reasons. A lot of my art is about my Asian-ness and I do in-person events so it's not like I can hide my ethnicity. I know for a fact a lot of people in the Destiny 2 art community are AANHPI, but I don't want to name anyone without warning.

You mentioned you’re a graphic designer and love our newsletters, what game stats do you enjoy being recognized for?

My favorite stat is "most used Exotic." I switch things up so much every Season, it delights me to see something I haven't used in months top the list, and I can remember all the good memories of getting a shiny new Exotic and falling in love with it. Or alternatively the time I finally got the Graviton Lance catalyst that can only be completed by cosmology kills. But this was after its nerf, so I put in a lot of extra effort because I was convinced hey... when Void 3.0 comes out maybe this gun will be really cool right? Right!?

Last but not least, is there something you would like to share with the wider Destiny 2 community as a fellow artist and gamer of AANHPI descent?

The path to the world is not so narrow, defined, or clear of purpose.

Thank you Plumli for taking the time and sharing your insights. Be sure to check everything else this incredible creator has shared right here to learn more about them and the love they have for a game we all share.

As we wrap up the AANHPI month, we want to thank the Bungie Community team for allowing us to share this focus. Lastly, thank you to all the players who continue to help us create worlds that inspire friendships.

That’s another Community Focus in the books, a bonus one to close out the month with some breathtaking art from a talented Guardian. More to come! In the meantime, feel free to mosey on over to the last Community Focus where you can learn more about Claire Corcoran and her amazing cosplay! 

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