"Finished not perfect", ok....but when is "finished" finished?

  • @smceccarelli , I can so relate to this. I am not as accomplished as you by a long shot, but I have really struggled with finding the balance in my work--and in my case, maybe it's still a matter of finding my voice and style. I find myself drawn to rougher and less realistic work, but then I am super critical of my own stuff because it looks wrong. I have been working on improving my drawing, but then I wonder about that--does it need to improve so I can draw stuff that isn't realistic? I love other people's work that is stylized and abstract, but I look at mine and I think it just looks wrong and then I over work the piece and wreck it (I work in traditional media, but am learning digital). And actually, @Kevin-Longueil 's comments may have provided some insight there.

  • @Marsha-Kay-Ottum-Owen, I hear you! I can remember when doing art felt like play, and was fun and made me happy. I'm wanting to get back to that. Perfectionism just sucks the joy right out of the process and it's really sad. Be kinder to yourself. Your work is fine, and you are your worst critic. All of us have room for improvement in our work, or we wouldn't be here! I hope you can find joy in your art again.

  • @eli Thanks. I'm working on it. I just need to do some doodling that doesn't matter sometimes 🙂

  • Yep. There with this one. But oddly some people want more detail, others less. Scribbles are most popular, but working with people they often want more. It’s all over the place.
    From experience, my suggestion is stop when they love it, but make sure you’re still producing the ultra refined stuff. Not for glory, or even for portfolio, or the desire to be what you wish you were doing. But rather for a couple of years I was just producing the rough stuff and when someone asked for more refined it took a lot of work to get the old muscle memory back. And I mean months. And I got really worried I couldn’t do it anymore.

    It also means that when fads change you’ve got the skills still there to flex and change. IMHO if course 😉

  • @andyg Thank you! This is a very pragmatic approach and it makes a lot of sense - and on top of that it would make me feel much more comfortable with myself: knowing that I can still play with surfaces and rendering and materials and light to my heart´s delight and let my style evolve in whatever organic direction projects take me.

  • @marsha-kay-ottum-owen I know your feelings, and I am sorry that you are going through a phase like this. Believe me, anybody who takes the craft seriously goes through this at times - many times over. The answer to "why are you doing this", however, should always be "to be true to myself". Any other answer is ephemeral. There are hundreds of other ways to make money that are easier than art - I guess we all know that. There are many impactful ways to contribute to society that do not involve mastering a perspective grid or learning to tame watercolors. Growing your skills in image-making is part of your personal expression, it's what drives you and what frustrates you - in that sense, I think we are all in the same boat here.
    My advice is to finish your book - the very last version of it and let it be. If it's taking more energy than it's giving you, it's time to move on anyhow.
    BTW: At 60 years old, you still have a whole lot of life ahead of you: do not underestimate what you can achieve! Maybe you should read about film director Leni Riefenstahl. Regardless of her culpable youth, it is remarkable what she achieved as a "mature" lady. She published a last book at age 89 and released her last documentary film in 2002, on her 100th Birthday.

  • hmmm, this is a tricky one. I have been LOVING the work you are doing lately. So I am not a big fan of changing it unless you are unhappy with it. Try some smaller pieces if you want to bring in some of your previous styles. The Alice images are so complex I wouldn't mess with those.

    But it sounds like you are ok with it, but your agent isn't. So that is where the dialog should start. There needs to be a conversation with your agent where you say "Help me understand why you are asking me to make this rougher or less finished."

    I have an idea for you. pick a fairly simple sketch and finish it in a number of different ways. Totally rendered style, flat style, and any other way you can think of. Then look at the images and compare them. Make a few more images based on what you find out. Don't look for the perfect answer, look for things that will guide you. You should get that "right" feeling from one of them. If not, keep tweaking it until you do. Then analyze what it is that made you have that feeling.

    An assignent like this will do two things: 1. It will lock down exactly where you want to go and 2. It will show different levels of finish so you and your agent can have an intelligent discussion about it.

    Hope that makes sense. Let me know if you have any questions, etc. : )

    Keep on going! you are doing great!

  • @lee-white Thank you Lee - I really really appreciate your answer. And any positive feedback on my work coming from you is a big boost!
    I think I will do exactly what you suggest - it would definitely help to clarify my feelings about what it is that I am not getting and/or where I really want to go.
    I am bit scared of what I will find out though - I have been liking too much minimalistic illustration recently. I am working with several editorial illustrators for my agency work recently, and seeing their process is fascinating...it's amazing how much meaning you can pack in so "little" illustration. (Here is one that made me cry this morning. It's by a Russian illustrator named Daria Kirpach:


  • One thing that can help you is being comfortable with change and accepting the new as part of the process. I used to think it was a big deal if I changed my work. The truth is no one actually cares if you do something the way you did before (except your agent! haha). When I want to change I just go ahead and do it. I'm not worried about if it's my "style" or what I did before. Most of the time people respond positively. And if they don't, that is ok too.

    I do know that once you start appreciating simplicity, it's hard to go back. I rarely (if ever) see anyone start simple and then get more complex in terms of design. Kinda funny like that..

  • @smceccarelli Thank you. You're right..I'm not dead yet! 🙂 Ha! I am going to finish my book and I'm going to try and enjoy what I do whether it is perfect or not. I will look for that book. Wow! So wonderful. I appeciate you and your encoragement and reminders. If I live to be 100 I still have 40 years! Maybe I have only 1 year but.....I might as well make the most of whatever time I have. I am a creative person and I need to be doing something creative...just need to switch things up a bit now and then and have fun in between the hard stuff, right? 🙂