8 months of contest entries, edits and thoughts

  • Hi all! So last year I started working on my portfolio with the goal of having ten completely new pieces in my portfolio. I competed in every contest from November through July. Of the pieces I made I had one win and got a critique of some sort in the arena for all but one. So now that I'm pulling the final ten together for my portfolio I'm making the edits from the arena critiques. I thought it would at very least be interesting, and possibly helpful to see them. Happy to hear and additional comments or feedback!
    Here we go:

    November: Slowvember
    The feedback from Lee here was that I left a huge empty dead space in the middle 😱. The suggested correction was too either crop in on the kids or add text. I tried cropping the kids but it just made me miss seeing the bedroom! And it felt to centered and symmetrical that way. So instead I'm adding text and claiming it as a book cover


    December: “...as she listened closely, she overheard them talking about her...” So this one actually one that month and also had the biggest critique! I was still trying to figure out my style here and it was very rushed 😬. Feedback from Will and Jake: Spend some more time on the character design of the yeti, the scarf doesn't make sense and the feet could be more well defined. The background feels like a cafeteria but seems empty. The wall behind them is necessary but isn't reading correctly.


    “The tracks in the snow were unlike anything Will had ever seen before.” This one made it to the arena and did well. There was no negative feedback. Lee said it was just "luck of the draw" So I did not make any edits to this one.


    February: nightfall. This was a failed style experiment. It's been sent to the land of illustrations past. R.I.P


    March: “Everything was rattling, falling apart and breaking!!!”

    This one also made it to the arena. Feedback: Everything is spaced very evenly and are similar sizes. Maybe move the girl to the right and vary more of the size and spacing of the objects.


    April: "Lisa’s robot invention worked great, until it did this…"

    This one also made it to the arena and was given the "luck of the draw" feedback, so I didn't make any edits.


    May: Isolation:
    This one did not make it to the arena, but when they did the quick feedback for everyone it also received the "luck of the draw" feedback.


    And then I took a break in June so I could open my online store and spent my time focusing on smaller spot illos. For my current portfolio 6 of the 10 pieces came from the contests, and one from the podcast illo I got to do as a winner. So 7 of 10 came directly from SVSLearn prompts.

    My take-a-ways from the experience: I was struggling to build my portfolio because I was lacking ideas and inspiration and I personally really need a deadline otherwise I procrastinate forever. Doing the contests were INCREDIBLY helpful for building my portfolio and I do feel like I've improved from doing it.

    I also listened to some of the classes while I worked on these pieces and instead of doing the homework assignments I applied the knowledge from the courses to the pieces as I went. This helped since I work full time and have two toddlers and I do freelance projects. I really needed to prioritize my time.

    Having a critqiue group is AMAZING, posting stuff here is helpful and awesome, but being able to have a group of other artists that you can quickly show ideas or see if something is working was VITAL for me.

    My least favorite piece was the one that won (It was really rushed and I didn't feel confident in the final rendering). But this really taught me how truly valuable concept is over technical draftmanship. However, even if you have a fun idea and good draftsmanship, everyone has a personal aesthetic and you might not make it into the arena or win. That doesn't make it a bad piece, and it may even be some peoples favorite piece. In someways that makes me feel frustrated like shooting without a target, but then I remember that I'm making these pieces for me and my portfolio and it's OKAY. It's a lot better to make pieces that I'm excited about and are fun for me personally, than to try and appease everyone or to make art for the purpose of winning.

  • Thanks for sharing your experience! It's excellent and inspiring! The before/after is really enlightening as your pieces are indeed stronger. Good job! Keep it up!

  • @carlianne said in 8 months of contest entries, edits and thoughts:

    Hi all! So last year I started working on my portfolio with the goal of having ten completely new pieces in my portfolio. I competed in every contest from November through July. Of the pieces I made I had one win and got a critique of some sort in the arena for all but one. So now that I'm pulling the final ten together for my portfolio I'm making the edits from the arena critiques. I thought it would at very least be interesting, and possibly helpful to see them.

    Hi Carlianne ☺ I loved seeing all of your art in one post like this, I appreciate your beautiful style. It was so interesting to hear your thoughts on participating in the contests and to see how you applied the arena critique to improve your pieces and ultimately help build your portfolio - that is my goal in the coming months as I develop my skills and style so thank you for sharing your perspective, it’s very encouraging!

    I submitted my very first piece for the August Prompt and spent a good chunk of time today reflecting on my processes - what worked, what didn’t, what I want to change/improve in the piece, the next piece and in my practise generally.. Self-reflection and self-motivation is what is going to make entering these contests a truly worthwhile growth experience because it can be uncomfortable putting yourself and your work (that you likely aren’t 100% happy with) out there. If the goal is improvement rather than winning or recognition, I find that it turns the pressure down a notch. And it certainly helps that the SVS community is so uplifting and invested in helping one another - I feel like I’ve found my people! 😁

    P.S. the deadline definitely helped my avoidance/procrastination tendencies too! 😉

  • What a great idea for a post! It's a great retrospective and I love the example you set with how you've approached the contest. You are really making the most of it.

  • SVS OG

    @carlianne i enjoyed reading this. Making art for yourself instead of making art that everyone will love is definitely the better move. I wish you all the best!

  • I was just thinking about you yesterday as I hadn’t seen any of your art in a little bit ( so I went to Instagram 😉). Nice to see this thoughtful post this morning! It certainly is a busy time as a mom of two young wee ones and working on top of trying to do this, and start and run your shop! That’s quite amazing , I loved your write up, thanks for sharing.

  • 👏 👏 👏 👏 👏
    you rock, girl.

  • Thank you for sharing this! It's really interesting and helpful to read your insights.

  • Thanks for sharing @carlianne! Definitely inspiring! I might do the same.

  • Thank-you for this generous post. It is an exceptionally encouraging and helpful and the kind of thing I do when I have time (which I haven't, so thanks and kudos esp with two toddlers!) Congrats on your banner year. I look forward to more inspiring things from your work. I love the achoo and the kittens in the pitcher. and now I know one of the reasons why I have been impressed with the Kiwico products. Good job. Thanks again.

  • Very inspiring post. I'm more determined now to enter each months contest! I love that you carried your yeti character on to feature in more images. A book coming maybe? 🤩

  • @carlianne Thank you for sharing this with us! This is quite the journey, and I can see the improvement made with each piece. Very inspirational 🙂

  • Moderator

    Wow--You've really been able to use these monthly prompts to your best advantage! It's so impressive to see "the whole thing" all together! I can remember so many of those monthly prompts but to see a single artist's collection/package of their participation in them is really enlightening. I'm so impressed!! You've done lovely work, and it looks like your portfolio is going to be really strong!! I think you're setting an awesome example, and I'm so happy you shared this--it's really inspirational! Kudos!!!

  • @carlianne so inspiring... I truly admire your work. Amazing style and composition. Hope I can find my style and be consistent like you did!

  • @carlianne This is really encouraging. I am happy you returned and took the time to alter your work. Thank you for sharing!

  • @carlianne What a great post, Carlianne! I'm sure a lot of people procrastinate in actually going back to an old piece and reworking it but this is so inspiring! So proud of you! ❤

  • Love this post and I'm a big fan of your work! This is a great representation of how to make the most of your time. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  • @carlianne Thank you for sharing. And well done!

  • SVS OG

    This is really nice to see all these pieces together, complete with the improvements and your commentary about each! I especially like what you did with the "Yeti in the cafeteria" piece.

    I am going through the same process right now of revisiting old pieces, though only one has contest feedback. You are correct that one take away from the contests how important concept/storytelling is! It is an often forgotten part of student (or even early professional) work.

  • Hi Carlianne. It's great to see all these pieces together and with the corrections you've made to them. It's really interesting to see how these tweaks, however subtle, make a difference! (And I love that the Yeti reappeared in March ☺ ) Well done for completing so many contests and doing so well. And your portfolio looks amazing! Really inspirational. Thank you for sharing.

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