I’ve been sending out my Holiday promotions to clients and potential clients. I never do as many promotions as i’d like throughout the year, but Christmas has so many fun images associated with it that i’m always super excited to draw! Happy Holidays all!
Illustrators have pretty much the same schedule as stores. We have to think about the holiday season months in advance. The holiday season is the perfect time to send out promotions to clients, or prospective clients. So this time of year normally has me engrossed in drawing snowmen, pine trees, and Santa Claus. I plan on posting about the experience of drawing Santa in ten different incarnations, but since i’m still working on it i’ve decided to wait. I did do a quick holiday card for my optometrist because he gave me a great price cut on some much needed new glasses! I’m undecided if I want to add colour because it would likely make the ink run and i’d like to give him the original drawing on illustration board.
It may be the French side of me, but I love Tintin and Lucky Luc! They were always the first books I gravitated too in a library. I recently started gathering all my old Tintin books to re-read them. The art is beautiful in it’s simplicity. The colour palette fits the style perfectly. The story is enduringly funny. But one thing i’ve noticed as an adult, Tintin get his ass WHOOPED at least once in every book. Maybe it’s because he’s a journalist who acts more like a Navy Seal, but it’s incredible he doesn’t have permanent brain damage from all the blows to the back of the head. So, I decided to draw a frame from every Tintin book every printed.
I read The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness this past week. The crazy title never really gets a satisfying explanation, but the book was a lot of fun! I consume a fair bit of media. I watch a lot of movies, I watch a lot of TV, and I read a lot of news. But I don’t get to read novels as much as I would like. The fact that getting from my bed to my workspace is only a 20 second commute means that I don’t get any travel time to read before work. So when I make time to read i’m always thrilled when the book I chose throws me into a new world so utterly that I lose track of time. And even when the story is done my mind is still feeding off the inspiration I gained from the story. This was definitely one of those books.
A large portion of my garden was herbs. I LOVE cooking with herbs! I had basil for fresh pesto, oregano for pizzas, sage for potatoes, lavender to fill my house with beautiful aroma, and chives for salads. I had an entire summer full of flavour, and wonderful fragrances… and then there was the mint. Don’t get me wrong, I love my mint plant, but there is a serious discrepancy between how much mint grows and how much you can actually use. I’ve never seen a plant naturally spread to all corners of the garden as fast as mint. After accidentally letting the mint flower I had mint plants growing seemingly instantly into full fledged adult plants within just a few weeks. My friends were all excited to see my fresh mint because they associated it with delicious mojitos, but after weeks of never ending mint supplies mojitos began to receive the same reception as someone who had eaten four pancakes and was now just sick of them. So remember folks, spay or neuter your mint plants!
Some of the very first drawings I did were inspired by the anime I watched as a kid. I’d select the bits I liked from each style; the eyes from Princess Mononoke, the hair from DragonBallZ, the bodies from Evangelion, etc… By mimicking different styles I slowly discovered the things I liked and disliked about various approaches to drawing.
Style is one of those tricky things in the art world and something i’ve tried my best to stay away from. Of course everybody naturally develops a look whether it be through line thickness, pen strokes, colour, or how you draw figures. But to me each project I work on demands a different approach. When I work on something serious, I like to be able to use characters that match the mood and ditto with something more silly in tone. It’s difficult to draw characters like the Flintstones and have a narrative like Breaking Bad (although maybe that would be cool?).
In the art world publishers and employers like to know what they are getting. After all, they likely hired you because the style in your promotional material matches the project they need done. For that reason style can define your brand and make you easier to market, however, it can also stagnate your creativity. Once a certain style starts bringing in jobs, it’s difficult to break away from. After all, why change what’s working?
To me the journey of an artist is the most interesting part of their art. Many Renaissance artist such as Michelangelo had vastly different approaches at the beginning and end of their lives; often going from a focus on physical beauty to a beauty of essence. What they chose to prioritize in their art spoke to what they were feeling at that moment in their lives. The Renaissance artists were producing Fine Art, not illustrations, however, the lines between illustration and fine art have been blurring for decades. Heinrich Kley, who began by painting traditional murals, transitioned to line art drawings done with ink. The change was drastic and risky, but in the end proved to be much more profitable and more importantly much more creative. If ever I find myself enthralled to a style, no matter how profitable, I hope i’ll have the courage to make the leap and try something new.
In that spirit, much like I did when I was first starting my journey into art, i’ll still occasionally do fan art to help me try new approaches to drawing.