I'm having trouble knowing if my work is of 'professional quality'



  • I want to preface this with saying that I am not actually a children's book illustrator, but I do want to work in publishing and illustrate for books and tell stories with my art, so I've been hanging around here lately. If my stuff really doesn't fit in here, just say so, and I'll try to find another forum!

    On that note, I need some help. I have a lot of trouble self-evaluating my art. Even when I tell people to be honest, I can never quite get real critique.

    I worry that I have a skewed perspective of my work, and combined with my self-confidence issues (hello depression and anxiety! waves), I just can't tell if it's any good or not, and this uncertainty can be...kinda discouraging. I second-guess everything I do; even if I personally like the work, I worry that I'm 'wrong' about thinking it's okay.

    So, all this ridiculousness aside, I have a simple question: How close or far is my work to a professional level?

    My portfolio is here and my art blog is here.



  • I know it does not really help because i have no experience ,but i just thought I would say i really like your portfolio you have a lovely sense of colour and wonderful sketches.



  • Take my comments and suggestions with a grain of salt, because I'm no pro, but here are my thoughts.

    I think with your current level, you could get professional work in certain markets. You have definitely created a cohesive style, and that is something great to have.I can see you fitting right in to llewellyn publishing, for example.

    I do see some areas where you could improve, take your work to a new level, and potentially open yourself up to a broader market. Here are some of my ideas in no particular order.

    1. Your drawing skills are very strong, but I feel something gets lost when you transition to your painting. Some of your transitions could be softened, for example. I also feel that you know how to structure drawings so there are good focal points, and areas of rest, but in your paintings, it is super detailed all over and there are many things competing for attention visually. I feel if you can allow for some areas of rest, let go of some of the details in certain areas, your paintings would improve. I highly, highly recommend the creative composition class here on SVS to help you with some of these issues.

    2. Your female faces lean toward the masculine side, and most of your faces have similar proportions, with high-set, close-set eyes. I think doing some master studies might help you to have more appealing feminine faces.

    3. I would seek out a mentorship with a pro artist you admire to really set you on a good course to where to go from here, and how to tweak or add to your portfolio. They can be expensive, but I think the long term benefits are worth it. Pete Mohrbacher might be a good place to start.

    4. I don't know what you do to make money from your art, but I would consider doing cons, renaissance fairs, and art festivals. I would also consider opening an instagram account. I think you have the potential for a large following, especially with your creature drawings. If you can gain a following, I would also consider making a coloring book or a book of sketches to possibly self publish.

    5. Consider doing more spot illustrations, that are paintings, but do not include the whole background.

    Anyway, hope that was helpful to some degree. Good luck! You have some really great stuff.



  • @DOTTYP That's very kind, thank you!

    @tessw This is incredible advice, thank you so much! I'll definitely be putting it all to work, especially the part about the paintings being too busy. And I don't know how I haven't heard of Llewellyn yet, their stuff is 100% my cup of tea, so I'll send my portfolio their way.

    My brother just gave me a smartphone, so I can give Instagram a shot! And I'm researching how to self-publish a coloring book right now, since a couple of my followers on my blog have asked for one.

    And as far as classes, mentorships (I love Pete's work!), and conventions go -- I will definitely look into doing these things as soon as I'm not completely broke. I've been struggling pretty badly on the financial side lately, but I feel that I've just gotta take little steps to really get on my feet. (I tried to go too fast, once, and ended up homeless and horrifically in debt. Don't exactly want to repeat that experience, haha.)

    I truly appreciate you taking the time to write this thoughtful response. It really is helpful, and makes me feel a little more confident about the path I'm on. c:



  • I think technically your work is excellent (as far as I can judge based on my own knowledge). Your drawing skills and line quality are great. Painting may need more growth, but it is already at a good level. What you need to really think about is the content of your portfolio and the fit to the market. As it is now, it has a very narrow fit. You seem to concentrate only on traditional romantic fantasy, with subjects that are - if you pardon me - very cliche` even for that area. No issue at all if that is what makes you happy, and you probably could look into selling prints or other independent products. If you want commissioned work from publishers, I can only imagine a market in book covers for romantic fantasy and maybe some merchandising. There are also a lot of artists covering this type of subject matter, so you are looking into a very narrow market with a lot of competition.
    Maybe you could think of other markets you have an interest in and see what is commissioned there and how you could steer your portfolio in that direction.



  • @smceccarelli I'm very inspired by old-fashioned fantasy art, and I understand that my approach could even be considered kitschy, but that's part of the joy in it for me. I really, truly do love creating the simplistic fantasy art that I do. All that aside, though, I will definitely make an effort to expand my subject matter! I do feel that I really ought to work on including more figures. Thank you kindly for the advice. c:



  • Your portfolio is ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL!! 100 times better than mine!!
    If I had to give any advice, it would be to keep making illustrations and keep learning as much as possible. Maybe even try out other color schemes and subject matter. If you keep doing that you will have opportunities opened up to you



  • @ben-migliore Thank you so much!! And hey, even if there were no opportunities to come out of it, I'd never stop doing art and learning.



  • @snapdragoon That's the spirit!



  • @snapdragoon I think something you could look into is book covers. Fantasy and Science Fiction novels specifically. Usually they want painted covers that look a bit like oil, but there's money there and your natural inclinations seem to lend to it. You could take a few books and make your own covers for them for practice. :)



  • Yes, you can draw. Yes, you could get professional work. Though your more graphic style is currently working much better than your softer painted style.

    BUT....if I was hiring and didn't have a need for a unicorn, I might question if you could draw anything else. Logically, your skill level tells me that you easily could, but then there's another darn unicorn. And another. And another. And another. And another.....and so on.

    Cover your walls in unicorns if you must, but limit them in your portfolio. A different take (like the unicorn skeleton) was very unexpected and very cool. Seems like when you draw people you try and hide them under hats, armor, flowing hair, or turned away from us. They aren't drawn or attempted with the confidence that you are shameless in flexing with the unicorns. I see that and it makes me even more reluctant to hire you for my non-unicorn assignment.

    Probably you don't draw people with the same confidence because you're spending too much time on unicorns. The human hands in the sketchbook are wonderful, but again hiding the rest of the person. What are you hiding from? I think that is the question you might need to ask yourself. Confront that question like an angry unicorn, my friend.

    Keep up the good work though, you'll do great.



  • @jittles I definitely have far less confidence drawing people than anything else, it's been one of my biggest weaknesses for as long as I've been an artist and definitely one that I have to work on. Right now, though, I'm working on two paintings that prominently feature people, and only one of them has a unicorn, haha!

    I'll definitely work on expanding my subject matter more. Thank you so much for the great feedback!


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