Do I belong at SVS?



  • Salutations all!

    I joined SVS yesterday and attended the Dec critique yesterday afternoon (so many lovely works!)

    I asked Will and Jake if the January contest was open to realistic art. They told me that they did accept all forms of art, but that the judges tended to favor animated children's book styles. (which I am very much not)

    I love all of the works I've seen here (you guys have wonderful art!) but I'm feeling a bit out of place. I'm wondering if my work is really a good fit for this group if it will be looked upon in a dismissive light due to being photo realistic over cartoony.

    There's always room to grow and improve, but I mainly came here more to learn about the business side than the drawing side since I already feel pretty okay with my skills. This is an example of my work, please give me an honest opinion, should I look for another place to learn that's a little more oriented to my style, or do you think it matters?

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  • @Jenna-Jenks I am not a childrens illustrator either, but I have learned a lot here. I really love your work!



  • I think you’re overthinking it! This community is for anyone and everyone who is looking to improve their skills, learn about the business side of things and just be part of a larger group of like-minded individuals in general. There might be certain styles of work that tend to do better in the critique arena due to SVS being based loosely around children’s book illustrations but I think you could still enter and do well. And even if you didn’t do well or even enter at all, there is still plenty to gain from just being a part of the SVS family.

    I think your work is awesome and it doesn’t look out of place at all. Stick around a while, get comfortable and join the family:)



  • @DOTTYP thanks so much! I checked out your Instagram account and love your work too! ❤️ I will stay then 💕



  • @Jenna-Jenks Thanks Jenna I think every artist can do different styles but support each other and be part of the community Good luck.



  • Hi, welcome!! I have found this group to be incredibly welcoming of all skill levels and styles. I think you'll fit in nicely!

    I think the judges were speaking about winning the contests specifically. But I think if you had an interesting and creative story, it wouldn't matter.

    Also I recently read a photo realistic illustrated children's book to my son, so there is a place for you in the industry. ❤



  • @Bricz-Art Thanks! ❤️ I do really like the community from what I have seen, and I definitely see value in the classes. I have been watching Will for about half a year on YouTube when I started researching convention videos (since the majority of my sales are from going to cons a couple times a month and doing personal portraits/pet portraits on the side.)

    SVS popped into my feed from watching Will, and I've enjoyed listening to their advice on a lot of differing subjects. I'm doing the 7 day trial now, and I guess the worry comes from wanting to be sure that if I commit here that what I am getting from the classes will help me develop my personal brand since the target audience is very different (if that makes sense?)



  • @carlianne first off, congrats on being one of the winners yesterday! You've got a very fun style, and I really enjoy the colors you chose ❤😁 And thank you for your advice. I'm not really looking to work on children's books over improve presentation of my work through my website, social media, algorithms, etc. My audience is mostly customers looking for portraits of family/pets/fave fandom characters etc. My weakness comes in mostly promoting and finding my target audience better. I am definitely interested in exploring more opportunities to find avenues to create charity auctions to raise money for WWF, climate control, alzhimers etc. And I hope to get insight on how to reach out to people who can help me involve myself in those sorts of endeavors (I'm very much an introverted person, and I am trying to 'people' better! 😂❤


  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    Hi @Jenna-Jenks

    Thanks for posting this because I think it's a good question. We LOVE realistic art and I promote that quite a bit in my classes. Here's a jpeg of my demos on painting realistically. Not a lot of people know that I love to paint realistically on the side. I don't ever show anyone thought. I keep it on the down low because I do it for fun. I started my first couple of years in art doing only high level realism.

    Here's the thing about realistic art that is tough to get around- Many realistic artists tend to value the fact that it is painted well over what the image is actually saying. For example, my vase image would never win an svs contest because there is no concept there. In order to do well in contests here, you need to push what the image is actually saying. Technique is not enough. Many times in my classes I have the hardest time with the really good drawers and painters because they tend to rely too much on the finish and rendering and not enough on concept. So that is something to work around.

    I noticed you first two images are nicely drawn but without concept. However, that third image is far from realistic and is the more interesting of the 3.

    Now, that said, all our classes deal with how to make good images. Not really what style those images will be in. So if your thing is realism, I say go for it! But remember that technique alone will not carry an illustration career. So start thinking about what you want to say in your images and you will have no problem. : )Vase paint small.jpg



  • @Lee-White

    Thanks for the response ❤️ (your vase is quite lovely too by the way. What medium are you using? I typically use graphite, but I am pushing to branch out into using more paint and colored pencils. Color is always an eye catcher!) It's too bad you keep your realism on the down low, you do it well, but I understand it's not really the brand you're trying to promote.

    I'm not really here to become an illustrator over learning how to up my game with selling at conventions and presenting publicly through my website/social media (i.e. SEO algorithms to reach audiences through Google search engines, how to make more dynamic posts to attract a solid audience over a passing one that is only coming for a given fandom, how best to engage my audience and promote... the business side that isn't looking for a publisher/agent.)

    My biggest niche is personalized portrait art commissions and fandom at conventions. (Not that your advice on context and concept is not highly relevant and something to hone in on more fully.) It's an aspect most of my work lacks given I am (as you aptly pointed out) usually mostly concerned about the execution and rendering of how accurate the resemblance is over concept. I will work to execute more towards this criteria for any of the contests I enter here. Thank you again for taking the time to read and respond to my concerns. ❤😁



  • @Lee-White you stinker. Hiding your realistic art! It is good to know that you guys are practicing that on the side.
    @Jenna-Jenks I am not an illustrator either but a traditional artist who is hoping to improve my illustration/comic book skills. That being said, the classes and forums have tremendously helped both my techniques and my compositions. I was just comparing a painting I am working on to one I did a few years ago, and man what a difference! And it is due in large part to what I am learning here on SVS. I was thinking about light placement and silhouettes and color schemes and texture. All the things that I am now doing more consciously now.

    So YES! This is the place for any artist who wants to grow. And I welcome a fellow realist!



  • I was working traditionally, using oil paints and graphite pencil. I especially love to draw realistically. I find it to be so relaxing! I came to this site to learn how to create illustrative paintings - Environments, chacters that tell a story. I set a 3 yr goal a year in a painting class to achieve this. Fortunately a few months ago I found SVS. I have a lot to learn, but I now know I have a way to achieve this goal. In what ever medium I use. I always planned to learn to work digitally too and this site has gotten me going with that too and I love it!



  • I’ve felt the same way, @Jenna-Jenks. I’ve always loved drawing, and got to be pretty adept at realism (in graphite, anyway), but don’t feel like I’m going to end up being a children’s book illustrator unless something really changes. I do feel like I would like to get into editorial illustration though, and the reason I’m going through these courses is to learn how to tell a story. As such I feel like the sessions are helping, and of course the refreshers are fun!



  • I’ve seen many children’s books (and graphic novels) over the years with realistic drawings. I see no reason why you wouldn’t fit in here. It’s still story telling 🙂 And in the end, it’s all about communicating through illustration.

    I, myself, don’t draw children’s books (would love to!), but for now I’m focusing on comics/graphic novels. So I’m here 🙂

    I really like your work. Really sets the mood in the scene. Welcome to the group!



  • @Lee-White beautiful


  • SVS OG

    @Jenna-Jenks people here are really nice and respecting. They always willing to help put no matter your style. Give it a try. It’s free even if you’re not a subscriber.


  • Moderator

    @Jenna-Jenks , there is room for everything here. We've had posts where artists share fabric prints, maquettes, spaceship models made from random found pieces--I myself have posted theatrical costume designs which are only loosely related to illustration and are "storytelling" in a fourth-cousin-twice-removed sense...

    But something I've learned in the short time I've been here on these forums:

    Regardless of your particular style there are ways to use it to tell a story. If realism is your thing, then figure out how to use that natural inclination to help tell a story. There are LOTS of realistic artists that have used their styles (yes, styleS--because realism can be a lot of different things) to help tell all kinds of wonderful stories in wonderful ways. You may love creating portraits, but look at how much story the likes of Rockwell, Leyendecker, and Sargent put into their work. A "simple" painting of a person becomes a novel in the imagination of the viewer. No one can say they don't look at their work and claim they don't know volumes about the subject in them. Lean into your storytelling. Guide your viewers. Ponder the advice of the fabulous, inspiring, empathetic, trustworthy participants here on these forums. You have permission to have a viewpoint in your pieces--opinions, feelings, thoughts. That's the bridge you can cross to make your expressions have a deeper meaning than just authentic reproductions. You are more than a pencil filter, or human camera, or organic algorithm. Lean into all that possibility. Own it.

    I bet you'll find you're more of a storyteller than you thought, and it can be a tool to help you create more intriguing work, and you'll be able to exploit your social media in a new and interesting way.

    Just my 2¢. 🙂


  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    @Coreyartus Great point! If anyone turns in something as good as a painting by JC lyendecker, I can guarantee they will win any contest!



  • @Jenna-Jenks Thanks so much! I have seen posts about social media and networking here plenty of times, so I still think this should still be helpful to you. If you haven't checked out the podcasts or classes yet there are a couple on networking and social media that should be helpful to you.

    Good luck!



  • @chrisaakins thanks Chris ❤️I agree with you, SVS does have quite a lot of value to offer. I really respect Will, Jake, and Lee and the advice that they share via YouTube (ultimately why I came here.) I am checking out many of the podcasts in the business section, and I plan to explore more because I am always interested in upping my game even if illustration isn't my main goal as an artist, the lessons are still quite valid for all artists


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