Mom of 4. Illustrator of Children's Books. Fan of Classic Films. Wife of Scrabble Nerd.
Guys, this post was great. I took particular interest in it since I am 41 and have been seriously pursuing illustration for the past 5 years thanks to the help and advice of you guys every step of the way!
5 years ago I had a degree in Graphic Design and a life-time love of comics and drawing, I had been out of college for some time and after working for a few years had settled down at home to begin raising our family as a stay at home Mom. Even then I began getting my post cards ready to send out and even sent set, but I pretty much knew that my work wasn't ready. I laugh now just thinking about it because I know much more now than I did then about what is needed to be pro.
Anyway, then I spent the next portion of my life pregnant and with babies and toddlers and no sleep....bringing us to the point 5 years ago when I discovered you guys one at a time and immediately started following all your advice.
I also began reading every book I could get my hands on about productivity, creativity and getting things done. I read Seth Godin, Austin Kleon, Jon Acuff. I read about Small Wins and Willpower and Deep Work. I did everything ya'll said. I entered the third thursday contests back in the beginning, I got Will's tutorial back when you had to get it on his website. I watched all of Jake's youtube videos and I did the 100 things project (with mice) I took the Children's Book Illustration class, I got to the point where I could draw every day and fill multiple sketchbooks I made progress charts and I learned to ship. I completed inktobers the last couple of years and made one into a coloring book that I sold to all my friends. I’ve made calendars, and last but not least I finished my dummy book for my children's book that I have worked on and started over and worked on again since all this began.
All that to say. I have doubted myself the entire time, and still do, but I keep putting one foot in front of the other and move forward. I am still not to the point where I can do it all well, but I am so much happier with my work now than I was 5 years ago.
The best part of all is that I know how to work. It’s not about producing one good piece now and then, it’s about being so comfortable with the process that you can just jump into projects whole-heartedly without fear but with excitement instead and then work your way out of them till there is an actual finish. This is worth gold. I’m so happy that I know I am capable of ‘shipping’ now and that I don’t treat each thing as precious and handle it gingerly and then drop it from all the doubt and fear I feel in the process.
I still don’t consider myself ready to go pro. I still have a very small handful of followers on instagram. I still have who knows how far to go before I have any “success” of most people’s standard. But I am trusting that If I could come that far in 5 years then in 5 more with tons and tons and tons of work, I will have something more tangible to show for it or maybe I won’t, but you sure won’t be able to say I didn’t try with every ounce of strength I had!
PS Check out my Mermay series on Instagram @misty_mck
I appreciated the changes to the Live Third Thursday session. I have felt for a while that the choices of entries critiqued have been based more on which ones included common mistakes that could help more people as opposed to a rating of which ones are best. I may be wrong, but I thought it was already basically done that way. Except for the 3 winning submissions of course.
I really appreciated that we touched on the topic of how the critiques can be hard to watch sometimes when one has worked hard on their submission and it doesn't get mentioned. Just having that fact acknowledged was nice.
It has been great watching the Third Thursday Contest develop and change since it first started. I think all the changes have been great.
All the lessons from this one were helpful as usual. Will, Jake and Lee you guys are doing a great job!
@Will-Terry you are awesome! @Jake-Parker, you make us want to cry when you do layouts in seconds like that comic one! and @Lee-White you blew my mind with that color demo!
Peter, I also struggle with wondering if my style will be suited to Children's book illustration. Since that is my only goal as an illustrator I want to be marketable. As for the question of more than one style. I have heard Jake and Will and also Chris Oatley and others recommend only having one style. More than one can work as long as the two styles are completely different and you show on your portfolio that you know how to keep them separate. An art director is going to want to see that you won't wander into a different style during a project. If you go look at some of your favorite illustrators work, I think you won't find many who produce in more than one style.
If you are like me, it is hard to choose and also hard to know what is going to be most marketable and yet still comfortable and fun for you to stick with over the long run. I think the best advice I have heard from the pros on style is just to practice getting better and style will follow. Hope this helps. I am no expert certainly but I have also been in your shoes.