Erika Obama

Put Your Oxygen Mask On First

If you wish someone to be saved, put your oxygen mask on first. Inhale your own values with every single breath, so you can share your kindness without burdening yourself. Stay firm. Stay relaxed.

Theme: The importance of saving our mental insecurities before trying to save someone.
Challenges: Faster delivery of the artwork, clear presentation of the concept, aesthetic art style.
Solution: Simplifying the scene, adopting a trending color scheme, double-exposure effect.


Kindness is not equal to self-sacrifice.
When this original core idea came into my mind, I was struggling with keeping myself sane while receiving silent treatment from someone I wanted to help. Knowing this situation was triggering my old traumas, I was still trying to encourage this person with fairness and empathy. Because I thought the person indicated subtle signs of childhood trauma through conversations. But, at the same time, I was pretty sure that the months-long confusion already affected my brain function negatively.

Note: Silent treatment = a persistent ignorance of the receiver’s attempts to communicate to the giver (i.e. not answering texts and calls, purposely ignoring the receiver on a group occasion). Some people choose this way of communication simply because silencing/withdrawing is the only way they know to deal with a conflict, while others intend to manipulate the other party by forcing them to go their way.

I analyzed the situation and thought:

  • Unconditional caring shouldn’t lead to the state of being sucked or drained.
  • I should stay as firm as possible, so I never let anyone tear me apart.
  • But, as a human, I also have my limits…

Then, I found that my situation may perfectly align with the message of the famous quote “Put your oxygen mask on first”. I decided to visualize this motif with a few additional thoughts that describe my take on this quote.

Challenges And Solutions


  1. Faster delivery of the artwork
  • Personal reason: In order to recover from the emotional confusion as faster as possible.
  • Creative reason: To be able to share my works more frequently (I tend to be a slow poster).
  1. Clear presentation of the concept
  2. Aesthetic visualization
  • To achieve the change of my style (a less anime-leaning style might be suitable for more occasions and designs).


  • Simplified the scene design. (#1, #2)
  • Adopted a trending color scheme. (#3)
  • Used double-exposure in the composition (#2, #3)

Technical Notes

The particles = the energy flow

To make the particle animation look organic and impressive, I rendered a simulated particle flow sequence with Stable Diffusion (AI Render for Blender add-on).

The contrast between soft-shading and flat-shading

Soft-shaded parts = What’s visible to others. Flat-shaded parts = What’s happening inside.

Put Your Oxygen Mask On First (3D art)