Am I really cut out for this?



  • I look at all your great art on here and I feel like I'm so far behind sometimes. I have such a different style than everyone else-it's old and unprecise and hard for me to come up with ideas. The harder I try, the more I see my flaws. My current dummy looks imperfect and if I don't finish it I will never get it done because I will never be happy with it. When I illustrated a book fo rmy friend in 2014, I had no idea what I was doing and it was an ABC book so I didn't have to follow a story line-just do a lot of animals. I enjoyed doing it and thought it looked pretty good (except for the cover and the "designers" lettering which I thought looked like a kids lettering). The next one I did was challenging but I liked it (until I got it printed and found my mistakes, etc. It looked very primitive but that's what I was going for since I didn't know how to plug in lettering so I did it myself -fortunately it was very short. This one coming up.....I have worked very hard to get to the point I am- and made tons of changes but I still feel a bit discouraged. I'm going to redraw it one more time....I think only one more time :-) I want it to be "finished not perfect ". I hope to enjoy doign the rest of it! How does a person keep there interest up with a project that isn't necessarily bringing them joy anymore :-) I have about 4 others in the works but I feel overwhelmed with the thought of illustrating them Does anyone else ever have those feelings? Is it just growing pains or should I quit while I'm ahead? Thanks for listening.



  • @Marsha-Kay-Ottum-Owen Everyone has their own style and work at their own pace. I wouldn't say you are far behind, its just learning as we all are. If you love something you know it. I have a handful of artists that I love their style. I study their work and process and work that into my process. I feel that helps and keeps things interesting. As far as getting frustrated with a project, if there is no deadline for a client then I would step away for awhile and then come back to it, you will find that it feels new and fresh again when you come back.



  • Yes, I have these feelings all the time too. When we grow as artists, we are also able to spot imperfections better, but sometime our skill level doesn't catch up as fast and that can be very frustrating. It's good to a certain extent to be self critical, as long as you can grow from it and not let it keep you from doing what you need to do

    I'm new to this site, so I'm not super familiar with your work, but based on the work from your website, I'd say that you totally are cut out for this! If you don't already, I'd recommend checking out books from the children's section at your library on a regular basis. There are some really awesome and beloved books that have a similar feel to your style. A current illustrator I can think of off the top of my head is Laura cornell. I just borrowed a book she illustrated recently for my 5 year old daughter. My daughter loved the book, had me read it over and over. You could probably consider her style "imprecise" and a bit reminiscent of slightly older styles, but it still works really well for today, probably because she puts a lot of life into her characters. Felicia Bond is another popular illustrator to check out.

    My advice for you would be:

    *Study perspective if you haven't already. It will help you come up with compositions more easily.

    *I know you did a 30 day challenge . . .if you do one of these again I would focus on limiting it to a single figure focusing on gesture and facial expression.

    *Organize your website better. It doesn't look professional at the moment. It looks like art is just your hobby. You need less text describing your illustrations. The illustrations should be at the forefront. I would Get better images of your art work. You need to learn how to photograph them better or scan them and learn how to tweak the scan in a photo editing program. Does SVS have a course in making a professional looking website? If not I would research that. One source I can think of off the bat is "One Fantastic Week" on youtube. Look at some of their CritCast episodes. They do a lot of critique on how artist's websites look like. It's mainly geared toward fantasy artists, but I think the same principle can apply to any type of artist.

    *If you start feeling too overwhelmed and are comparing yourself to other artists, it might be time to unplug from social media for a bit and do some artwork without so much mental clutter.

    *As for keeping up interest in your work. . . Maybe your workload is too full? Sounds like you have a lot of projects going at one time and on top of that you gave yourself a 30 challenge that you are getting burnt out on. Maybe before you start doing your main work project you can warm up with something fun. Also, if you reward yourself after you hit certain milestones with your work, it might help you to push through. After you finish a major project, do some artwork that nourishes you and interests you. And don't forget to do other stuff that's not art related to help balance you out!

    Good luck. Hopefully you'll be on the upswing very soon.



  • Hi marsha kay I am reading this because I feel the same way myself .There is some great information given by Tess W and Chip really helpful.The only thing I would say to you is take a break if you can. The30 day challege was quite a lot of work I think,and you may be just tried. I was going to look at your website,but I could not find it.However art is meant to be enjoyable,not a punishment,so dont get stressed.



  • I feel like this everyday. I would have quit 5-6 times already this last year if my wife didn't keep me going, and I also told myself not to quit when I felt like quitting.

    Honestly, there are incredibly simplistic children book illustrators out there, and I think the idea of being "good enough" is somewhat relative. It is more about finding a consistent style, and one that is appealing. I mean, you should see some of these artists I see doing this. My 4 year old is a better artist than a couple of them (none of them are students here)

    Also, something to take into consideration is that here at SVS, it seems we are surounded by some really great artists, and to compare ourselves to them can be harsh. Just last year I couldn't even draw a complete image. I was trying watercolor, and failed. However, I noticed that when I pressed through all of that, I somehwat got better somehow.

    Finally, I will give you the same advice my artist brother gave me when I felt I wasn't good enough. He said "everyone's art sucks..who cares" lol

    Hope that helps. ;-)



  • Hi Marsha!

    I absolutely think you are cut our for this. However, I think one of the reason you are running into so many problems with your illustrations might be that your projects at this time are exceeding your technical abilities. You end up doing the same thing many times almost in a "trial and error" way to get it right - which is VERY time consuming and frustrating.

    What I would suggest is to take at least a 6 - 9 months break from your book projects and work on your technical skills. I think this would then improve your productivity and make your illustration journey much more enjoyable!

    During that time I would watch as many SVS classes as possible especially the ones on perspective, character design and illustrating children's book and do the exercises (and share them here yo we can critique them). I would also draw from life and from reference as much as possible to increase your "creative library" as @Jake-Parker often say. I would also pick your favorite illustrators and copy their work. I think another very important think, as pointed out by @TessW would be to learn the basics of "technology" and image editing which will save you SO much time in the end.

    I think right now you are putting a LOT of pressure on your shoulders to finish these 4 books, but I really think if you take a break from them and come back better equipped you'll be able to finish them a lot faster!

    I hope this helps! Don't discourage yourself! You're in the right path :)



  • @TessW Thank you, Tess. All true points! I think they do have a class or more than one on improving your website, business, and all of that. I really don't think of doing my illustration as a career. I'm not trying to get business from others but just want to do my own books well. I also realize that, for me, 30 day challenges are not inspiring-especially with watercolor painting :-) As Lee has told me, I just do it to get somethign on paper....I'm too STUBBORN to quit but I won't start another one. It takes me away from other things I could be working on that would be more productive. Thanks for the reminders. I need a break. I will play around for the next two days and paint just for fun and just to finish my 30 days since I'm so close but, after that....I'm taking a break!



  • @DOTTYP Thanks, Dotty, I am definitely taking a break (after my last two days of watercolor which I am going to do just for fun). Putting all other projects aside for a week or so.



  • @Eric-Castleman Love your brother's comment! Ha! That's a good attitude. Who cares anyway. When I have taught art to kids or just done it with them, and they ask me what I think, I say, what do YOU think. That's what matters. I am so tired today and that makes me a bit more negative anyway...I need some sleep. I'm actually paintiing dolls with some girls tonight at church......I'll be glad to have that done and g t bed! I might take a short nap. :-) Thanks for your reply, Eric. I'm glad your wife pushes you forward when you get low. I think you have come along way if you couldn't finish in the beginning!



  • @NoWayMe Good points! I guess I'm afraid I might die before I can finish them all! :-) I'm taking a watercolor class and a 2D design class at the local CC in the fall (gets m eout of the house and interacting with others a bit) so hopefully I will get more skills there too. I think I am an impatient person and tend to beat my head against the wall instead of taking the time I need to learn things. In some cases, maybe that might be useful but in very many cases, it just gets me in a mess. Thank you for your words. Feel free to remind me if I start getting crazy again. I have several workbooks partially done from SVS classes that I can finish and put up for critiquing. That's a good idea. (I'll try not to do them all in one day :-) ) Ha! Honestly, I was staying with my friends family once and they had a piano. I wanted to learn so I sat ther all day trying to get through the book until the mom finally asked me to PLEASE stop! Ha!



  • Hi, i also feel the same! Each time i post sth, iam embarassed with it, but i do it anyway. And yet i was on a charity book project this year and helped to create a book for children in hospitals etc. and you know what? I feel like i dont want my name under illustrations in this book;) Concerning your art, i think you have a skill to create happy and funny things and that is smth you canot learn:) i also like your lettering a lot. So keep up the good work, while trying to continue your tehcnical education.



  • @Marsha-Kay-Ottum-Owen said in Am I really cut out for this?:

    I look at all your great art on here and I feel like I'm so far behind sometimes. I have such a different style than everyone else-it's old and unprecise and hard for me to come up with ideas. The harder I try, the more I see my flaws. My current dummy looks imperfect and if I don't finish it I will never get it done because I will never be happy with it. When I illustrated a book fo rmy friend in 2014, I had no idea what I was doing and it was an ABC book so I didn't have to follow a story line-just do a lot of animals. I enjoyed doing it and thought it looked pretty good (except for the cover and the "designers" lettering which I thought looked like a kids lettering). The next one I did was challenging but I liked it (until I got it printed and found my mistakes, etc. It looked very primitive but that's what I was going for since I didn't know how to plug in lettering so I did it myself -fortunately it was very short. This one coming up.....I have worked very hard to get to the point I am- and made tons of changes but I still feel a bit discouraged. I'm going to redraw it one more time....I think only one more time :-) I want it to be "finished not perfect ". I hope to enjoy doign the rest of it! How does a person keep there interest up with a project that isn't necessarily bringing them joy anymore :-) I have about 4 others in the works but I feel overwhelmed with the thought of illustrating them Does anyone else ever have those feelings? Is it just growing pains or should I quit while I'm ahead? Thanks for listening.

    I know exactly how you feel, I'm having the exact same feelings myself. It's a bit different because I'm actually getting a lot of joy from working and drawing in my own way. I suspect nobody else draws the way I do. And while this makes me fulfilled, I feel like I will never be able to make a living of what I truly love, because I'm following a impossible dream.

    Even if I would stop and try to become a true professional, learning all the steps and acquiring the skills to do good art, I feel like I wouldn't see the appeal in my own work anymore. And that's because I realized my own inspirations were not artists in the traditional sense and would never be able to do what they used to in today's world. And taking a good look at what the art business looks like these days, I feel apathetic. I have no feelings towards it and thus no motivation to pursue it anymore.

    I know saying something like this might sounds like I'm just being lazy, but if I tried to achieve that kind of perfection, I know I would feel overwhelmed and have no desire to continue. It's not the kind of art that brought me to this world in the first place and I don't know if it has anything to do with not applying myself enough. I draw every day, I spend most of my free time drawing and I have been doing it non-stop for the past 2 years. But it amounted to nothing because if I don't do it the right way, it seems meaningless. Drawing in my own way doesn't make me cut out for this... So I need to ask myself, is it worth it?

    I still didn't found that answer myself, but I can assure you're not alone feeling like this. And I have sincere hopes you will overcome these feelings and find a way to achieve happiness doing what you love. From my own experience I can only suggest you to draw, draw in your own special way and without worrying too much about what others would think. This is what always bring me back after I'm discouraged. It's what brings that joy back, at least for me.



  • @Marsha-Kay-Ottum-Owen my brother's comment really was to get me to stop trying so hard, and enjoy what I'm doing. He also was the one that got me to first share my work, because I felt it wasn't good enough and I didn't want to embarrass myself. He told me that everyone hates their work most of the time, and it is true.

    I have been watching you post your work for the last year, and you have gotten better. for me, traditional is much more time consuming and much more frustrating. I pretty much dropped it completely a couple months back due to cost and blowing it after doing all the prep work, and finally upgraded to an ipad pro.

    Just have fun. When we start trying to force things it becomes frustrating. If you are having a hard time painting, switch to making thumbnails for the time being (I do tons of them) if you can't think of any thumbnails, look at other artists pieces and make very simplistic thumbnails of their work, and stuff just starts popping out on your own. Lee White's work is very fun to thumbnail copy btw. I do it all the time when I'm in a funk, and it usually jump starts me a bit.

    As for a critique of your work, my main thought is that your line work is a bit too good for the style you are trying to accomplish. Youtube Quentin Blake and see how he just scratches his lines on. He calls it "free willing". I think it is also a very therapeutic style to borrow from, and it will breathe more life into your work imho. Hope this helps.



  • @aska Thank you. I really love that you helped illustrate a charity book! It's nice to use our talents for the good of others. I appreciate your thoughtful words and your support. Thanks again.



  • @felipeonodera Good thoughts. Thank you!



  • @Eric-Castleman Eric, those are soem great ideas! I never really thought of thumbnailing other people's books! I coudl see that beng very useful for me! I actually do a lot of things loosely when I am just plang around. But when I am trying to do illustrations, everything tightens up to a more coloring book-type thing. I usually get tighter before i get looser and I think that is because i am not yet comfortable with the subject matter, or the perspective, etc. No Way Me also gave me some really good advice about that. I need to catch up with my skills to go forward. This forum is so helpful! Thank you fo rtakig time to share your ideas and thoughts with me. Very appreciated!



  • @TessW So much good advice for me! Thank youfor taking the time to respond to this, I really appreciate it!

    Marsha



  • @NoWayMe I can't remember if I thanked you or not. I am re-reading all my responses and feel so fortunate to be on these forums. You have given me great points and they make a lot of sense, Thanks again! (In case I didn't already thank you).


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