The 3 Phases and Style

  • Fellow Artists,

    In the Podcast "Am I too Old to Get Started?" Lee, Jake and Will talked about the 3 phases to becoming an artist. I loved the clarity in each of the phases, and I feel like it's a great way to move forward.

    I feel stuck. I've sold art in various styles since I was fairly young, and I'd like to move forward and continue being an artist. My problem is that I feel like I have so many styles, and I'm not sure what I really like the most. One day I really love movie concept art, another I feel more interested in children's books...and lately I feel drawn to comics. I feel a bit like a chameleon. If I look at Jake's art, or Christian Ward, Jermoe Opena...I want to draw comics. If I see James Christensen or Tony Deterlizzi's work, I want to dive into a children's book. And after a good movie, I get thrown into concept art mode. I feel like I can mirror so many styles, but still feel lost as to what my strength is. Because of this I have mountains of pre-work for various projects, but barely any finished art.

    I want to move forward and grow as an artist, but I feel like I have a foot stuck in each of the 3 phases. I can draw ok, but I could still use some basic skills from the first phase. I also feel like I'm in phase 2, but just can't decide where I want to put my effort in making a portfolio. (unsure of what interests me...cause everything sounds awesome depending on what day it is) And phase 3...I have stories that I'm dying to tell, I've done concept art, I've filled sketchbooks with ideas, but I really don't even know if I have the artistic strength to portray those stories.

    If you had the patience to read through this, you're golden. Does anyone have thoughts or advice? And apologies if this is a ridiculous question.

    If I haven't been detailed enough, let me know. You guys are awesome.

  • @cam-royce If this is a ridiculous question, then I'm ridiculous right there with you! I so relate to this.

  • Moderator

    @cam-royce I relate a little bit. I find that I am drawn to do different things depending on mood, current activity, etc. Lol. Those art prompts on instagram REALLY get me distracted, lol. I copied Jake Parkers system and have made a excel document with my goals in it, so that I don't get too off track. I can still do different things as long as I'm headed towards one goal. I wish you luck in choosing that goal. πŸ‘πŸ˜

  • @cam-royce Hi you are not alone I love everything and try everything, most days I have a watercolour painting drying upstairs while I am running a 3D render downstairs on the computer I have come to accept it is just the way I am.Maybe you are not ready to settle to one thing it might be boring for youπŸ˜€

  • @cam-royce I'm in the same boat. For me however, there are 3 added layers.. Author, animator, and web designer...... So I feel your words with deep empathy!

    sighs I'd love to know too, what I should do. ^.^ Right now, I've just given up having "just" an illustrator's website. Or "just" a web designer's website. My Behance portfolio shows only a tiny sample of the things I've done.

    I just want to create. I've not found something I'm GOOD at so much that I get "known" for it. On top of all that I had a 7 year relationship where I was basically bound to the house, stay at home mom, in a toxic relationship. I couldn't get time to draw much, even when I put my foot down. 7 YEARS is a long time where I could have found my "thing", developed a fan base, gotten my art into the marketplace.... etc.

    I'm in my early 40's now, having done a variety of jobs, and currently career wise in the tech sector as a UX/UI designer. This is not the art career I envisioned. >.>

  • SVS OG

    I'm going through a lot of the same thing here. I'm also older, and have studied a lot of art and lived a lot of very different places and had a lot of very different experiences, so my head is full of images and influences. Let's call it artistic indigestion.

    In the end, maybe you'll end up doing a children's book with comic and concept art influence. Maybe after doing a lot of pieces in one style, you'll think, "Been there, done that, can leave it now." Maybe somehow the three influences will merge into something all your own.

    For myself, I finally decided that they only way to work it out was to just illustrate like crazy and see what surfaced. I'm still doing this, because of course it takes time. And then of course the temptation is to try to speed up the process somehow, but I just don't think it's possible!

    But I think the unfinished work may be partly due to the intense learning curve. When I look back I'm glad I didn't finish the original work I was doing last year, because I had no idea what I was doing and it would have been a waste of time. What did me more good was making copies of illustrations I liked in order to analyze them. I still do those, and it's frustrating because you can't show them, but so be it.

    Also perhaps think to yourself, Is there one particular area I could work on that is keeping me from finishing things? For me, I think it's environments, because I was always a figure painter in my previous artistic work. But then, I'm also learning to draw figures without an exact reference such as a model or photos that I take myself, so that needs developing too! All in all, I just don't think the phases are necessarily that distinct. It's more like a spiral. Just keep working, getting good critiques, and following your gut. I have a sneaking suspicion it's the only way.

  • I can relate to this very much, I also kind of blame this feeling for one reason why I more or less gave up on illustration and art in general.

    What I am doing at the minute is trying to just make things and , especially, FINISH THINGS, I'm doing master copies and drawing from life and not really worrying about whether I will be making comics or concept art in the future. I also listen to the Podcast 'creative pep talk' and that has helped me think about think industry as a whole and where I fit. I am also taking the SVS Learn courses and working through them methodically, following the lessons closely (If you aren't using the SVS online course consider doing it, I have learned so much already, my process has changed a lot for the better).

    ETA: I don't think of finishing something that you think isn't 'great' a waste of time, you will learn from the process, the next time will be better.

    This story you want to tell, don't worry about your artistic strength and just start telling it, you could start with a zine of the characters involved, not a full blown graphic novel and commit to finishing it, just a little 10 page thing or something.

    On the subject of personal projects is there a brand or magazine you would like to contribute work towards? If there is make something with them in mind (anything: t-shirts, labels, stickers, album covers, movie posters etc), just something you can finish as a one off, easily, don't worry about the style or how great it is, just finish it.

    I found making a board in Pinterest and on Milanote for the dream portfolio lesson really helpful and have added and subtracted people's stuff as I find it, it is easy to see in what seem like very different work what similarities there are and pull out what I like. (For example I love Tove Jansson and Becky Cloonan, they seem very different but when you hold their work up they both use limited pallets, strong lights and darks and inky textures, so that is where my style lays).

    I'm 46 soon and I have had a career in something completely unrelated to illustration for 25 years now, I get how you are feeling, hang in there and finish stuff.

    lol sorry this got long.

  • @lollyw,

    Finishing things is such a struggle some days...(most days, haha). I've actually done t-shirts before, a couple logos, and even working on some album art at the moment. And yes, it done feel so good to have the closure of finishing something and then putting it out in the world. I really like the idea of a small 10 page comic. Seems like a good way to test the waters.

  • @LauraA

    Yes! I really should look into that...seeing if there are particular aspects of drawing that prevent me from finishing. I'll keep my eye out for patterns over the next week or so. Thank you!

  • I can totally relate to this. I was there/am there. What I think is great about you is that you have stories that you are dying to tell. That's amazing!

    Take a look at Jake Parker. He's worked in all three industries you are interested in. Look at Dan Santat, a Caldecott Medal winner. He worked as a concept artist, and worked in the animation industry, he now does children's books, some of them very reminiscent of a comic book format. Don't limit yourself.

    Start a project and start producing some work. After you've given yourself a chance to explore, play, and make mistakes, you can start trying to peg down your style a little more. Every project you do will strengthen your overall skill and improve your work for the style or industry you may ultimately end up in. Something else I've heard time and time again is that clients have approached artists for jobs after seeing their personal projects or artwork, and sometimes it's in industries they hadn't considered before. So make artwork and projects that interest you and see where it takes you. Try to have fun.

    Start something soon! Give yourself parameters and a deadline. Then do something else! Not everything will be a masterpiece, and that's ok, but you just might surprise yourself with what you can produce.

  • Moderator

    @lauraa You can show them to us! πŸ˜ƒ. Show us your art and what/who you copied. The 3 Point men tell us that it’s a good thing to copy masters. πŸ‘

  • @cam-royce see you've actually done the thing, you can do it again! I love the idea of world building and having, like, all these little guides to a story; characters and places, machinery. Small, finished zines seems like a good way to finish something while still building your story.

  • Great thread. I can totally relate as well. I would say, just keep producing what you love although you should make an effort to complete more works. You could try grouping your finished works into similar styles and see what you get. You may find more similarity than you think.

  • Forgive the bluntness--Perhaps you are over thinking things too much?

    Sounds like you've found a few areas that you really enjoy--lean into them. Don't be as worried about style--Just work and get better. Why can't you do comics, character design and children's book all in one style OR all in different styles? Just do you. Create, try, fail, repeat, succeed, etc. I think if you spend too much time worrying about what lane you need to fall in, you wont fall into any lane and spin a lot of wheels doing nothing productive. Do an art challenge for a month...see what comes of it. Sit down and make a short comic. Design concepts for a movie that you want to see but may not ever make. Just do.

  • SVS OG

    @cam-royce I think the answer to your dilemma depends on what you mean by β€œgrow as an artist.” If your goal is to make an income from your art (especially a living income) then you probably do need to decide which style is going to be able to get you noticed and eventually find you employment but if you mean that you personally want to become better at art, then exploring many styles and playing with lots of media is making you a better artist. The advantage of being a professional artist is that you are forced to really hone a particular aspect of the craft because the reality of the market and deadlines keep you on task but the advantage of being an amateur is that you get to play.

  • I also had same problem about style and what's more I love experimenting with styles. My styles range from flat color simple shapes to painterly looking. I also like incorporating Indian folk art styles too at times. I used to worry a lot about this until I came across this article by Kyle T Webster link text. I also subscribed to free email course 'Discovering your Personal Style' by Amy Pikaland.

Log in to reply