Hello! I hate describing the tone of my life with the word "busy", but that just about sums it up. One day, I will figure out the balance. One day. Meanwhile, I assure myself that this is how it has to be by saying "I am an artist for a living". There are only notional boundaries between work and life, on- and off-hours.
So far, 2016 has been a challenging year, both in positive and negative ways. On the down side, I have been struggling a lot with the aforementioned balance of life and work. Sometimes, completely against my most valiant efforts, client timelines compress and deadlines pile up around the same time. I find myself working through the clock whilst sacrificing time with my family and also a good night's rest. Life falls by the wayside. I have also found myself being easily discouraged at my efficiency. Of late, my struggle has been to accept the level of craft and quality of my work in spite of how long it takes me to obtain it. I find myself wondering if I should be seeing a much higher degree of impressiveness in my work for the amount of time I spend making it. How can I become more efficient? How can I both strive for excellence in my work and also have a life on the side?
I assuage my feelings of guilt and doubt by admitting to myself that it is this relentless drive for perfection (even if it is a carrot on a stick) is what has gotten me as far as it has. It's a quality that other illustrators I admire possess. I'm not even trying to be this way — it's the way that I am.
On the upside, I have been overwhelmed with the amount of requests for work I'm getting. While it's never great to say no to clients, I have found the need to turn work down to be able to focus on the jobs I have on hand. And in some cases, reserving space for the possibility of larger projects. So the phones are metaphorically ringing off the hook, and I am still in business and growing.
If I have retained any of my 2016 resolutions, it is to push myself in my art more than ever before. To avoid lazy shortcuts that only harm my creativity and my body of work. To go for more "wow factor", as it were. Concept work does have its place and its charms, but I am trying more to think in terms of execution, detail, and nuance. I want my drawings to be more clear, more solid. I want there to be more details/attention to detail, and I want there to be more nuance in the details. Particularly, I want more nuance in my textures and ink work. If last year I used a lot of solid ink lines made with a nib pen and random, full-on inky textures, this year, I am trying to apply more controlled, washy textures and linework made with brushes. Whereas the former technique is more graphic and spontaneous, the latter is more artful and intentional.
So I think, in spite of the exhaustion I am feeling of late, I am still growing, still improving, and hopefully, my work is achieving a higher degree of quality. For me, it's all about building on my strengths. I'm learning to be less consumed by the idea of a consistent style and more focused on doing whatever comes from my hands with care and with a mind to the best result for the given purpose. There are some illustrators who bang out illustration after illustration in the same narrow visual style, with the same limited tools. And I have the utmost respect for those who are doing this with stunning results. Their ideas are strong, their brand is consistent, and they seem happy to stay within the limits of their approach, at least for their commercial work. For me, I am learning how to have consistency in my own way but not to be held back from trying different approaches as I find myself doing quite naturally.
So what is all this? I came to post a few sneak peeks of current work. I ended up spilling out my heart about my current and ongoing crises as a commercial artist. Hope you enjoyed it.