This past weekend I attended the KidLitVic 2018 conference, an event where publishers, authors and illustrators can all meet each other. This was an event I’ve been thinking about and working towards for months. Having an opportunity to show my artwork to publishers was exciting and nerve wracking. I’ve definitely gotten more comfortable putting my work online, and promoting myself. But it still doesn’t really feel natural yet, and making the decision to show my work to people in the industry was one I wasn’t entirely sure I was ready for.
Most of the day was taken up by workshops and panels, while my folio was laid out in the Illustrators showcase area. I learnt so much throughout the day. Information on what publishers are looking for, things to do, things to avoid. One of the workshops ‘Direction in Art Direction’ with Donna Rawlins was incredible. She made me think a lot more about the construction of images, and how to use every tool available to you to create an image that tells a story. Rather than just a pretty picture.
I’d also booked a couple of individual assessments with publishers. This was definitely the part of the day I was most nervous about. I wanted to focus mainly on getting feedback on things I could improve. While it would be lovely if they only told me how brilliant my work was, constructive criticism is much more helpful for growth. Even though I was nervous to receive it.
All the assessments were great. I got some positive feedback which was lovely, and I also got some advice on things I can improve upon. The constructive criticism was amazing, and really helpful. A lot of it involved things I hadn’t even considered with my own work. I walked away from these assessments feeling inspired, and eager to work more on my art.
Another fun part of the day was meeting new people in the industry, especially other illustrators. I really enjoyed seeing how different everyone’s work was, and meeting the artists behind it. I’ve also got a lovely collection of business cards, and postcards now from all of them. While networking is definitely not my strong suit, it was easier with such friendly and open people.
At the end of the day I’m really glad I went to the event. It was very well run, with a lot of valuable information, and opportunities. I feel really excited to continue working in this direction. I’ve got a lot of ideas of where to go next, and I’m feeling really positive about where things are at.
AbiliTEA April is here again! AbiliTEA is a campaign run by the Learning For Life Autism centre to fundraise and mark Autism Awareness month.
At L4Life they focus on skills that children learn during intensive early intervention (ABA programs) that lead to other abilities later in life. Learning how to communicate, follow instructions, imitate, be more independent give these children valuable tools to use throughout their whole lives. This fundraising campaign enables more children to access these programs for families who would otherwise not be able to afford them.
Last year for AbiliTEA I illustrated different peoples mugs and favourite drinks.
This year I’ve decided to expand my own tea drinking a bit.
I’m a creature of habit, I drink the same cup of tea every morning, and I love it. But I also wanted to try a few different things. So this year I’ve decided to try a new different tea every day, and illustrate different flavours.
At the end of the month the top 30 donors from my Facebook page will get to choose one of the original tea paintings to keep as a thank you from me, for supporting this great cause! Stay tuned for the first image coming tomorrow!
I’ve been feeling a bit insecure about my ability to create good work lately. While social media is a great tool to put yourself out there, it also means you’re exposed to how talented others are. There are so many incredibly talented people out there in the world. While that’s often really inspiring, I have to admit, I do find it intimidating at times. So when I start feeling self-doubt, I find it helpful to compare myself to work I used to do. Instead of comparing myself to others. There have been several of my past images that I’ve re-done after a couple months, or years, to improve upon them.
Left 2016, Middle and Right 2017
So when I decided to rework this image, I entered an exhibit at my old high school which was to celebrate the art departments 20th anniversary. They invited a bunch of old students to take part. We were allowed to submit several images, so I decided to create two accompanying pictures. The idea was to have them side by side so it looked like the two girls were reaching out to each other. I used brighter colours to make the boat and air balloon stand out more. I also tried to make the patterns more relevant to the sea, and to the sky. The other difference was the size, the original was A5, and the others were A3 (which did make me regret doing such intricate patterns after a while.
Left 2016, Right 2017
I recreated this image on my iPad, using Procreate. I wanted the colours to be a bit more intense. I changed it from a portrait orientation to a landscape, which I think gave it a better balance. It also made more sense for the suns eye line.
Left 2016, Right 2018
So the new image is much bigger. The original was A5, and the newer one is A3. I was much cleaner with the ink this time, and I think the girl character has a better design. I also decided to use lines rather than dots to show the rain.
It makes me feel better to see that even a couple of years have made a difference to my creative skills. It’s a good reminder that even when I feel like I’m not good enough, I’ve come a long way. The best part is that I’ve still got a long way to go, and it’s an exciting journey to be on.
A couple of years ago I came across this quote from Ira Glass, which really rings true to me. I find it’s a good one to pull out when I’m feeling discouraged.
Nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish somebody had told this to me — is that all of us who do creative work … we get into it because we have good taste. But it’s like there’s a gap, that for the first couple years that you’re making stuff, what you’re making isn’t so good, OK? It’s not that great. It’s really not that great. It’s trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it’s not quite that good. But your taste — the thing that got you into the game — your taste is still killer, and your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you’re making is kind of a disappointment to you, you know what I mean?
A lot of people never get past that phase. A lot of people at that point, they quit. And the thing I would just like say to you with all my heart is that most everybody I know who does interesting creative work, they went through a phase of years where they had really good taste and they could tell what they were making wasn’t as good as they wanted it to be — they knew it fell short, it didn’t have the special thing that we wanted it to have.
And the thing I would say to you is everybody goes through that. And for you to go through it, if you’re going through it right now, if you’re just getting out of that phase — you gotta know it’s totally normal.
And the most important possible thing you can do is do a lot of work — do a huge volume of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week, or every month, you know you’re going to finish one story. Because it’s only by actually going through a volume of work that you are actually going to catch up and close that gap. And the work you’re making will be as good as your ambitions. It takes a while, it’s gonna take you a while — it’s normal to take a while. And you just have to fight your way through that, okay?