At what point do I stop learning and start doing??

  • Last year I was asked to illustrate a kids Christmas bedtime story to be uploaded to Kindle. At the time I had never done any real illustrating, only fine art, so it has been a big learning curve for me. Obviously I had no idea how much work would go into it. It is for a colleague of a family member, so for a nominal fee I accepted the challenge and also offered to sort out the Kindle side of things. There will be 10 illustrations plus the cover. All the drawings are finally complete and he is happy with them so I'm now ready to start on the finished paintings.

    Maybe it's what you call procrastination but my problem is I don't know when to stop doing research/watching the SVS lessons and actually put everything into practise that I've already learned and just get on with it. I will be scanning, printing on watercolour paper and finishing with ink outline. My worry is I'll complete the book and then next year I'll look back and wish I'd done things differently/better. Does everyone feel this way about their work?

    One more question if you can help - if I need the book to be ready on Kindle for before Christmas when do you suggest I finish and upload it. Also does anyone have any advise on how to promote the book for him (maybe there's a lesson to watch here!?).


  • SVS OG

    @Lisa-Pickard hi Lisa! Ok, so from what I’ve read, you keep on researching references and watching tutorials instead of starting your projects. You worry about not liking your art a year from now. To me, it seems that you’re anxious about starting your project. You feel that if you don’t do enough research now that you’re going to unknowingly commit some mistake and regret the final product down the line. Well, let me tell you something. No matter much research you’re going to do, there’s always going to be something you wish you had done differently. I certainly don’t have all the answers but what helps me is Jake’s mantra : Finished not Perfect. An artwork will never be perfect but what matters is that it’s finished, it’s out there in the world, and you gave it your best despite all of your short comings at that time.

  • I'll give you a key piece of illustrator's advice. You always look back and find things you wish you'd done differently. The magic is that you do your best in the moment. If your client is happy with the prep work, it's time to keep him happy, by delivering his product. You'll probably (okay, definitely) run into more research issues, more learning curves, and probably technical issues along the way. don't try to future-proof your art. It can't be done. Take a deep breath, take the plunge, and lean on community to get you through what Jessica Abel calls the dark forest. You've got this, I'm sure.

  • @Lisa-Pickard I aim to apply at least one thing I have recently learned in my next work. So most recent it was about where my horizon line was and an object that covered both below it and above it (and so above it, you would see part of the underneath). I also tried to apply value and balance it out with how colour draws the eye. I still struggle with how do I apply what I learn into my work. I tend to do very well with homework but less so with "have I learned it and applied it to my own stuff".

  • I've also been at this a year in Nov, I am planning a self-published book, but I'm under know pressure to complete it like you are, and I come from a traditional background. I just 'completed' my first illustration. For me, just focusing on this one piece has helped me get over that hurdle. Now I have a start. I might work more in tangent on some of the others to get a cohesive style though.

  • Pro

    @Lisa-Pickard There are a ton of things in my first book I wish I could change, there are even a lot of things in my last book I'd like to change haha 😉 This is completely normal! For such a big project like a book, it's nearly impossible to get it 100% right. The way I see it, if I see things I want to change it's because I have improved or learned new things. We always want to keep learning, not be stagnant or hit a ceiling. This means that with every project we will see a few things we could have done better in hindsight. But that's okay! First of all probably on one else will notice all the things you notice, not the clients or the readers. And second of all, you cannot wait to be perfect to start illustrating otherwise you'll never start... There's no such thing as perfect, we're always learning. Not only that, making books in itself is a way to learn, and there are lots of things you can only learn by doing. So in order to learn these things in the first place, you have to make peace with starting the doing even if you don't feel 100% confident. This project will be a big learning experience for you, and that's a great thing 🙂

  • Thank you all for your positive replies - I'm feeling better about things already knowing that I'm not alone in this. I think I have been feeling anxious about getting on, and with all that's going on right now it's hardly surprising. Just sharing my concerns has helped, so tomorrow is another day when I will put brush to paper and actually start painting! 🖌

  • Never. Always be doing both. Seriously.
    You'll always learn the most while you're doing, not while you're studying.

    Regarding timing of your Kindle book, people are definitely shopping at thanksgiving. Ask Kindle how long it takes between when they get the files and when it's uploaded, then work backwards from that launch date, that allows them to do their thing. Will the author need time to review/revise your work? Add that in too. Make a calendar so you can see the number of days. Say thanksgiving is your launch date, and it takes Kindle 5 days to upload, and you're giving the the author 2 days to think about revisions and giving yourself 5 days to make revisions. Then you can see how much you have to do by when and it's concrete.

    Regarding publicity for your book, give away some free copies beforehand to people who will give it positive reviews so those reviews appear the same time the ebook does. Try to think of relevant fields, organizations, and people to market it too. Is the book about a location, is the author or you in a location that the local newspaper or town-blog would want to do a story about you or the book? Definitely contact your local small-scale news sources - they always need content. Is the book about a particular subject, say emotional health for example? In which case,you contact doctors or mental health organizations to let them know the book exists and maybe they want to review it or recommend it or just put a link on their website?

  • Hi, for me the best solution is to have a few projects at the same time 🙂 Then you don't get attached to one particular one so much and you don't dwell on it. There will always be something you would change after your project is finished. The clue is to not have time to focus on that. Just take another project (even just a personal one) and forget the worry. That's my advice 😉

  • @fpichel Thank you for your reply - that's been very helpful as I really didn't know where to start with the marketing side of it 👌

Log in to reply