In the mid to late 2000s I was an over-enthusiastic, anime-loving, cringy little girl who would spend all of her time online creating an abundance of incomplete websites. My first ones were made using a drag & drop website builder called Piczo as at that time it was the most popular SNS at my school. I would blog about my days, dedicate shrines to my favourite media and create extremely poor graphics for my anime resource sites. My designs were appalling but I remember having a lot of fun and through this little hobby of mine I met the most wonderful circle of online friends: Caitlin, Anny, Carrie & Lucy.
It’s thanks to these girls that I learned how to use Photoshop and dived into the world of HTML & CSS — I give credit to the most generous Veeda who taught me how to create my first DIV layout. Eventually we were all coding our own designs instead of using the pre-made resources on the platform and I remember being so incredibly inspired by these talented girls who improved so much in such a short time. Soon enough we all left Piczo due to its limitations and ventured into other free hosting services such as Freewebs, Angelfire & Awardspace just to name a few…
At one point I had applied for a subdomain titled Violet-Melodii, hosted by the lovely Pup of the now defunct neverendinganime.com. My designs were absolutely awful in comparison to my friends but I tried my best to keep up with them as much as I could.
Unfortunately, once I hit my teenage years I was swept away by the social network boom of the 2010s. I had bebo, myspace, facebook, etc, and so my website updates were few and far between. Back then however, there was at least still some level of customization available on these social networking platforms, so my poor HTML & CSS skills weren’t all wasted as I made custom themes for myself and others. My poor websites gathered dust in the meantime, and now the majority of them are lost to the void with absolutely nothing left to prove their existence. The only remnants that remain (thanks to the wayback machine) are Treasured Silence and Violet Melodii.
You can tell from those two layouts alone that I had absolutely no talent when it came to graphic design or coding, but my poor younger self was never self-aware. I think looking back, my circle of friends probably found me a little annoying and beneath them in terms of skill but I remember genuinely having so much fun during those times. Caitlin, Anny, Carrie & Lucy, if by some chance you see this, I hope you know just how much you inspired me as a little girl to now. I owe so much of what I’m interested in thanks to all of you.
Fast forward to 2021 — I am somehow always reminiscing about the old web on my private twitter, and it wasn't until I discovered neocities that I realised I wasn't alone in my sentiments. I had heard of this platform years ago but never explored it. I couldn't believe there was an entire community who experienced the same longing as I did all this time. I then had an intense desire to try and build a website from scratch again after a decade and so I created: Retasu — a small personal site to channel my nostalgia for anime graphics resource websites from the early 00s to mid 10s.
Though my skills are still lacking, I've had so much fun re-discovering this part of myself which was lost when the internet became what it is today. I decided to take it a step further and purchase my first domain (my younger self would be thrilled that I finally have the money to be able to do so!) and so Cloud Illusions was born.