Drawing Distractions.

I have some new ideas for 2018 that I’m really excited about. I started a Patreon page, which I think will be fun and help shape my art process better. I am really hoping to try to increase the time I spend illustrating. I have been planning and planning, thinking and thinking…and after a bit, I keep finding myself so frustrated. I’ve been here before. In fact, it appears to be a cycle of sorts.

Tonight I think I figured out why I only get frustrated when I have time to draw – by time and what little I can crank out. But I think it’s because of all the time I spend looking at other people’s art on Instagram.

I love Instagram. I am following so many amazing artists – showcasing all kinds of different styles, subjects and tools. There is soooo much talent and inspiration out there. I always thought by immersing myself in that world, I’d be more inspired for my own creative endeavors. Maybe I’d even absorb some talent through osmosis. 😉 But here’s what I think is actually happening. I’m seeing finished art. Amazing finished art. And I want to also post amazing finished art. So I get busy, quickly making something so that I can finish it and have it to share. And by doing that – working that way – I think that I’m completely ruining my own connection to my creativity.

I look back at older stuff I did (pre social media) and sometimes am pretty amazed by what I came up with sometimes. My execution may have been a little rough, but quirky, really, Steph ideas. Now I don’t seem to have any good ideas. So then I get on Instagram to get inspired…and …well, it’s a viscous cycle, I’m afraid.

So, I think I need to unplug from Instagram a bit. Most people are addicted to Facebook, but I’m addicted to the art stream I guess. I think it’s overwhelming me to see so many ideas and end products. I need to reconnect with my own quirky brain if I’m going to write and illustrate a children’s book this year. I need more time with process and changing things. Sketching and redrawing.

Yep. This is going to be hard. I love looking at all of these artists’ work! But I’m going to try to disconnect for a little bit and see if that helps my own creativity come back to me.

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Illustration = 25% of my work day

As many of my friends know, I’m really trying to make a go at this illustration stuff. I’d love to have it be a bigger part of my career, and I’m happy to say that I feel I have some momentum heading in that direction.

This fall, I’ve been doing some work with my first official illustration client. It’s some children’s-book-art-like drawings for a paper that will be published in the education field. It’s been super fun to work on so far! Fun subjects and a fantastic client. I’m drawing things I’ve never drawn, and it’s certainly pushed me creatively. It has also been great to see how the process has unfolded, and how similar it has been to my professional graphic design processes with clients. There’s a schedule, deadlines, meetings, feedback…beautiful! I am thankful that I already have all of this experience down thanks to my independent graphic designer career.

I’ve also had quite a few commissions recently. Some baby room art…and some more baby room art. Each one has been different: from creating a unique scene from the ground up, to a simple request of just drawing something however I’d like to, to taking existing pieces I’ve done and customizing them in color and size and adding another piece to fit into them. Commissions are challenging. I’ve struggled with timing and my estimates have been pretty far off, but I’m learning. I’m also learning how to incorporate this type of work into my day. (And then there are some additional ones to start next year: a motorcycle rally t-shirt design, laundry room art mural for my mom, spirit animal drawings for a friend…talk about diverse!)

Due to all of this work, as well as some other illustration initiatives I’ve made for myself, I believe a shift is happening – from illustration being just a hobby and something I cram in on the weekends or at night to part of my career. Hence this blog title – “Illustration = 25% of my work day.” I am starting to carve out part of my days for dedicated illustration work, and I think it’s going to be good.

I have no intentions of leaving graphic design as my main career, but I’m curious to see what I can make of illustration along with it. I’m expanding my creative brush stroke, I suppose. It’s going to continue to take a lot of extra hours, exploration, and patience. But I’m having a great time so far, so I feel pretty good about it.

Some things that I plan to work on and develop more:

  1. My Etsy shop. It’s a slow build…but I’m continuing to focus on it.
  2. Twitch Art Stream. I’ve been streaming for a couple months now on Twitch, and it has helped so much with project discipline and immersing myself in a creative environment. I’ve never drawn so much, so frequently!
  3. Patreon. I’m beginning to create a Patreon for myself, to launch in 2018. I think it partners well with Twitch and Etsy creations. I’m still working on what it would all mean for products, rewards, content, etc. Quite a shift from my graphic design business head, but I think it’s a pretty cool business model.
  4. HUGE personal project: creating some sort of children’s book. I have so many notes of different children’s story ideas, and I’m itching to create characters soooooo badly. I think it’s high time I focus on the creation, even if it only means self-publishing. I want to create.
  5. Create for the Cincinnati Comic Expo. I had so much fun at the Library Con I went to…and can see the potential for a super fun time at a Comic Expo. It’s something I’d like to try out.

In the meantime, the beagle still watches me work, waits for me to drop a piece of whatever snack I’m eating while at my desk, and asks for dinner at 3:00 every afternoon.

As always, I appreciate all of the support everyone gives me. I’d love for you all to continue to follow along to see what I can create next. I’m going to start blogging more. And I’m still instagramming a bunch. And goodness…get on Twitch and come hang out with me in my channel!

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