Hello my friends.
Welcome to this slightly less enjoyable post. I have thought about this for a long time, and now I finally came to the conclusion that I want to make it public.
As I’ve mentioned on Instagram this story is about Jack aka AlarmEighteen and this matter has been giving me stomach aches for months. I think sharing it with you will help me make peace with it.
How we became friends
Jack and I met via Instagram. He wrote me a message complimenting my Harry Potter collection and set up and from there we went. Pretty early on he mentioned that he made these beautiful replica books of Advanced Potion Making, as well as The Tales of Beedle the Bard and naturally I was intrigued. These beautiful books would be the center pieces of any Harry Potter collection and I wanted to own them so badly. He was kind enough to send me a copy of each and I shared the hell out of them. I had about 8 or 9 times the follower count that he had and I wanted to see his page grow. I just thought that he deserved to have that exposure and find more customers for his artwork and I even gave him tips on how to use Instagram correctly to gain more followers and be able to sell his products to other nerds like me. But we also talked as friends and I really did believe we were good friends.
His page indeed got more and more popular and he started talking about the next replica book he was planning: Hogwarts: A History. A bit into the process of creating this book he asked me whether I’d like to draw the illustrations for the book which I was of course *thrilled* to do. I’d had some experience with digital art, my stuff wasn’t *the* best of course but he apparently liked it so I was super happy to do it. Back then I was an apprentice and working full time but happily gave up all of my free time to draw the pictures for his new work. After completion I was pleased to receive a payment for my very first real illustrator’s job. As I said, I was an absolute amateur but was and still am proud of what I did there.
After Defense Against the Dark Arts he received a warning by Warner Bros. who told him to stop producing and selling these products that were violating their Copyright. Many of you have already been around back then and remember how our little part of the internet exploded with outrage about this. Surely, they did have a point but his works were just *too* good, so we all supported his attempts to contact WB and J.K.Rowling trying to get their attention and maybe finding a way to continue making the books but this time officially. We signed the petition that would back his efforts but it all remained fruitless.
Jack was understandably sad about this new development of things and I tried to inspire and motivate him into starting a new project then; Something that would be most similar to what he’d been doing until then but that would not be violating anyone’s Copyrights. And this was the beginning of the Treasury of Magical Enigmas (in short „ToME“). As we discussed the rough idea, not sure exactly how, but we decided that we’d do this project together. I was working full time but felt quite confident that I could still work on this project with him. We made a plan on what kinds of products, what kinds of books, what they should look like, what topics, etc. We named the project „ToME“ and we became „Lituus Zentaurius“. „Lituus“ was him as this was inspired by his name AlarmEighteen. „Zentaurius“ was me, many of you remember this old user- and brand name of mine. I loved it, I loved the whole concept that we had.
What I loved the most was that this new project was totally open to us. His ever creative mind would be able to really create a new magical world where in his old projects he’d been restricted to the world of Harry Potter and to designs and topics that had already been created, so he could essentially just „fill the gaps“. The new project gave so much creative freedom to both of us but to be honest: most of the content and ideas came from him. I was so impressed at everything that he just came up with and his mind was inventing things all. the. time. It did feel a bit much to me sometimes but I’d never worked on a project like the before and thought I just had to grow into it.
Our followers were intrigued with the idea of this new project and many kindly supported the kickstarter campaign that we started to be able to afford our first book project.
Our first book would be about runes and we called it Laeraryna: Understanding Runes. We set a deadline and started to work on it. We both researched and compiled info. We both invented information and runes, too. He did more, I’d never pretend anything else. He did the layout, designed the pages, wrote the final versions of the text, replied to mails and messages and made up runes, languages and stories. I also invented things, runes, stories: The Meriskelar Skrift, the Nautilian people, the Fengari Runes; These were some of the things I came up with for Laeraryna and our magical world. My main job was to illustrate everything and I can safely say that I always gave my very very best. I regularly sat until 1 or 2 AM to finish my drawings, but 3 or even 4 AM were also not exactly rare. All of this because I was, of course, working full time during the day. Jack often told me that I could literally quite my job and just work on the books and I loved the idea but felt like it was too risky. I also started to do a little Tattoo Apprenticeship during this time but that was just about 5-6 hours per month and I got back to illustrating as soon as I left the tattoo shop and entered the train to go home.
It became apparent that we couldn’t stick to our first deadline at all. I just hadn’t finished all the illustrations yet, but there were always new things that he added to Book 1, too. More chapters, more rune sets, and all of these things wanted to be illustrated by me so my list didn’t get shorter but longer all the time. This sounded a bit more annoyed than I intended it to because I thought it was great! The book was becoming bigger than I’d’ve expected and I loved that. But the fact that we had to delay our release date a few times made some people cancel their preorders and I thought it was my fault although stuff like this always happens to preorders.
I learned that when I finished my illustrations he always had to edit them in order to be able to work with them better in InDesign. This bothered me because it added yet another thing that he had to do because I couldn’t. I wanted to take work off of his shoulders but my devices weren’t really capable of doing that. He told me he could send me my portion of the Kickstarter money so I could buy a new computer and suitable software but I denied this for the following reasons:
1. I wanted to be paid after my work has been completed. 2. I thought a new computer would distract me from my work and deadlines we already coming up. 3. I thought it unwise to just change my working habits while being close to finishing book one. He said it’s totally fine for him to continue editing what he needed to edit and he’d show me how to it for book two then.
We finished Laeraryna in August and received the copies in September. All this extra work had resulted in a chunky massive book, many of you were just as surprised about this as I was myself. All the work was so worth it.
But when I asked him about payment he told me that there was nothing left over from the Kickstarter campaign so he couldn’t really send me anything.
Hmm okay, if you say so I guess that’s it then. He told me that he’d be able to send me a payment after people started buying products from our ToME website. So, after all I was happy I didn’t just quit my job.
Perfecting Potions & The Split
For Book 2 I actually adjusted my work schedule from 40hrs/week to 16hrs/week. this would still pay my rent and life but give me more time to work on ToME with Jack. I again researched and compiled info with him, I invented plants and creatures and started to illustrate. As he had promised there was more work that I could now do, like managing the Instagram. I’d be lying if I said I did that well. He got a bit annoyed with me for neglecting to post online and I totally understood that and felt bad about it. I can’t really say why I didn’t do that better but I was doing my very best on the illustrations and I can say that between book 1 and book 2 the quality of my artwork has improved massively. So that was good news. But I guess he, just like me, noticed that this massive project was becoming a bit much for me.
One thing that always bothered me about the project was that so many people always referred to it as „Jack’s“ new project. Laeraryna was „Jack’s new book“ for many and it frustrated me, because I think my illustrations are one of the most important part of the book but how many people didn’t even know that it was I who made them. Not blaming this on anyone, though, he always gave me my credit and if people just didn’t know it any better then ok.
But as it was all becoming a bit much Jack asked me something that made me die a little inside, and it was whether I really wanted to keep working on this project.
I thought about it and concluded that I did not want to proceed. My heart told me that I should focus more on Tattooing and I told him this. I apologized but I also thought that the project would be better off without me. I feel like I just wasn’t living up to him and wanted to give him the liberty to truly make it *his* project and *his* world. He was ok with this (in hindsight I asked myself a 1000 times whether he’d actually been hoping for me to come to this conclusion) and we discussed how the ToME should proceed. There wasn’t much of a discussion, though, as I was ok with him just proceeding exactly as it was. He could use my inventions for book 2, he could simply sell Laeraryna as it was and even keep the name „Lituus Zentaurius.“
A month later I asked him whether I’ll ever get paid for my work on Laeraryna…and was ghosted.
I messaged for his birthday, for his wedding; I messaged through Whatsapp, Insta and Email. Nothing.
After Lituus Zentaurius
I became depressed for a while because I saw the fault in myself. I saw myself as too unprofessional, lowly talented and all the likes. But what kept me up and going was the Tattoo work. My clients loved my work, I’d been doing great right from the beginning and was developing very well. They came specifically to me because they wanted *me* to tattoo them. This was refreshing and rewarding considering many people to this day have no idea that it was I who contributed quite a bit to the making of Laeraryna. It’s true that I’ve never been the most professional and talented person to work with but again, I did my best and I also think I did a good job.
As I grew more confident in my tattoo art I also looked back to the ToME days and got a bit annoyed. I had finally learned to accept the fact that I’d apparently lost this friend, I was still proud of the work I did with him and the result of it but I got really annoyed that I never ended up receiving payment for my work. I did accept it and could live with it but it annoyed me nonetheless. So I decided to confide this problem into a few people I trusted and discussed everything with them.
Last week, alas…
So, last week I confided the matter in another friend of mine who promptly decided to turn to a well known Harry Potter blogger and youtuber she knew and who also owns some of Jack’s works. The blogger apparently went directly to Jack then and within the shortest time ever I had an email from him in my inbox.
He said 1. he had no idea why our contact broke off 2. He’s worried that I want to make things public 3. He thought it was a matter of credit which it isn’t. I replied to his email the following morning telling him that no, I wasn’t upset with the credit and don’t plan to make things public but would like to be paid. To which he never replied again as his fear that stuff wouldn’t reach the public was now soothed, I guess. No replies to Insta messages, either, although he did reply to other people’s messages.
It’s sad that this has to go downhill over money and payment. Honestly, if he’d told me „No, sorry, for this and that reason“ I would’ve probably never said anything and just learned to accept it. But to ghost me? Twice? That made me change my mind about making things public. Sorry for the inconvenience Jack :’)
Now we’re here. I think I’ve waited long enough. Over a year it was now. A week since the most recent developments, but I’m getting impatient and I think I’ll be able to make peace with it once I post this online. I also do feel responsible, I have shared his art and our friendship via Instagram all the time back then. Many of my friends and followers support his art and buy his products and now I feel like I have to tell that after all, in my experience, it’s not all sunshine, daisies and butter mellow with him. He could’ve just shared the cake with me. He could’ve just been honest with me. But the way he reacted was so unfortunate and disrespectful to me as an artist and (as I believed) friend.
Just to clarify
I never wished any harm upon him but I also don’t want to hold this story back any longer. I believe that he’s responsible for any negative outcomes that might come after this. Again, honesty and open-ness could’ve prevented this but you chose another path, Jack.
I just want to say that this story is my truth. I didn’t want the drama, I didn’t seek a drama. I haven’t altered any facts, I don’t think that I left anything important out, I haven’t exaggerated anything and this is just what I’m left with now.
I do expect him to be referred to this through somebody, I do expect haters and fanbois to come for me for posting this. If this post here is the one that’ll send him to reply to me then I’m afraid I’m gonna have to practice some self care and this time be the one never to reply again. I tried too often and it’s enough now.
I’m not asking you to unfollow him or stop supporting him. Please don’t hate on him. If you decide to continue to follow him, feel free! I’m here for the art now and his art has always been and will always be exquisite so I understand.
If you own any AlarmEighteen and/or Lituus Zentaurius products: I don’t want you to hate them now! I hope you still find joy in it, anything he makes is the royalty of any shelf that it’s displayed in, please don’t feel like I wish to take this away from you.
But I also don’t want to have this story consume me from within any longer. I think I don’t deserve to be treated like this ♡
If you’ve read all of this, thank you. It means much to me that people are interested in the matter, however you choose to proceed with this knowledge.
Love & Light to you all ♡
P.S. feel free to message me on Insta @Skyggsja if you wanna share your thoughts, or comment on this ♡