It’s the crazy journey of finding out what everybody already knows about you.
In terms of your art, your voice is the style that is (or should be) recognisable to you regardless of whether your name is next to it or not.
Trust me, it’s a daunting task. It’s one that cannot be found overnight, and usually takes years and years of practice to develop. And that is the precisely the way to find your voice. The journey becomes the destination. Practice and then after a few months or years, take a look into the rear view mirror and notice if there’s any patterns you see.
This could be patterns in themes. What subjects have caught your attention, and in what periods of your life? Does your art reflect any transitions you are or were physically, mentally or spiritually swimming through?
The patterns could also be shapes. Are the type of shapes you are utilising traditionally feminine(circular and curvy) or traditionally masculine(sharp and angular).
There’s a possibility that the patterns could be found in the colours. Because this is a component of the art that has to be specifically chosen by the artist, you would think that this is a conscious choice. However sometimes it is not. For example, I’ve noticed my colours change slightly depending on the certain moment in my life.
All of these patterns are sometimes something artists intentionally create in their work, however many times the repetitive elements are something that is subconscious.
Have you found your voice yet? If you haven’t, get practicing!
What is in your mind?
What comes out on paper, Adobe Illustrator, or even on the sidewalk with chalk…it’s always different than what was in my mind. i have to admit it’s frustrating sometimes. I can imagine all day. And in fact, I do.
Daily conversations I’m a part of or overhear on the tube, funny thoughts I might have in my head about certain situations, characters I witness around town that definitely look like extras in a movie…I’m constantly inspired to create (though I may not always act on this inspiration).
What I do isn’t always what the finished drawing looks like. Honestly most of the time it isn’t. But I like getting closer and closer to closing the gap between what I think up in my mind and what comes out of my fingers. It’s imperative to get comfortable with not producing exactly what you have in mind.
That is actually the reason I believe most people don’t continue drawing. Because they may imagine themselves creating something so realistic and so beautiful, and are ashamed when reality is not as nice as it is in their minds (this, by the way, applies to way more than simply drawing. It applies to life as a whole). As a lifelong artist, I’ve experienced this countless times myself and understand the annoyance with your hands not being able to translate.
Learning to be okay with the gap by acknowledging that it exists, and all the while chasing it, is one of the greatest lessons that will allow you the freedom it takes just to start. Without this, it is difficult, if not impossible, to have the motivation to create art again.
Being an artist is weird.
I have all of these ideas floating around in my head but in order for me to execute them, whilst having a full time job, exercising, trying to love on my people, trying to hydrate and not snack too much…is challenging.
However hard it may be, there’s a lot you can gain from keeping your fingers moving with a pencil or a tablet.
Practice. Practice does not make perfect as some movies may lead you to believe(Perfect does not truly exist, sorry). But practice does make progress. As an artist who’s been drawing since the cliche of being able to hold a crayon, I’ve definitely seen the progress my art has made in terms of ability throughout the years. This is because I keep practicing, no matter how small that practice may feel. Even the tiny doodles that I used to draw on the sides of my class notes–that’s practice. Practice is practice, no matter the size or the length of time you dedicate to it in the day. What matters most is the consistency of the practice.
Confidence. The first time you do something you might be a bit shaky(or, let’s be honest–VERY shaky). You might have worried thoughts, asking yourself if you are doing it right. You might even stop halfway because you’re not sure what you are doing. However with time, confidence is built. You will learn to not care so much about the result because you’ve practiced enough to know that you will be alright through the journey. With that confidence engrained in you, you will be less reluctant to pick up the pencil once again.
Self-expression. I firmly believe in art being a form of therapy. It is a way of processing what you’re feeling, especially during situations when you can’t even admit to yourself how exactly your emotions are doing. Practicing creativity can turn your anxious, joyous, angry, fearful, fearless, heartbroken(and everything in between) emotions into tangible pieces of art. Art helps you cope with the highs and lows of life as a way to emotionally process. Plus, telling your story is important. You may have similarities to others but nobody in the world has your exact same perspective and has lived the same chapters as you.
As digital artists, we glorify the finished pieces.
The work that you can proudly put into your portfolio after hours of hard work getting everything exactly right on the artboards of Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop.
However sketchbooks are where the magic happens. They are where you can pour your mind in the form of words, drawings and scribbles without any pressure to be perfect. I have a horrendous memory, so my sketchbook is where I write all of the funny conversations I have or overhear while on a longtail boat in Thailand, sitting at a cafe in Italy, or watching Netflix with a library’s wifi. I love looking back at moments not with photographs but with my art(I’m biased, I know).
I also love people watching and am amazed at how many different kinds of people there are. How are there such vastly distinct ways to make a nose?! So if I’m in public and have a sketchbook I love looking at strangers and drawing them. It’s great to draw from your imagination but I believe you have to learn to sketch from real life first, and then you can totally start to twist and tweak the way you personally see the world. This way people will recognize that the hand you draw is a hand, and not a baby octopus.
Sketchbooks allow you to play with a concept before actually making it into a bigger piece. My teachers at MSU would always make us sketch about 30 concepts before moving on to the real project. This way you can get all your ideas about the concept out onto paper and pick the best one. Many times what you thought would be the ideal visual solution is actually not as good as your 20th idea. I also love working out my creative muscles to see just how many variations of one idea I can make.
One last big advantage of having a sketchbook is being able to look back on your skill growth. When I look back at old work, sometimes I’m a little embarrassed. I actually think that’s good though. You should be practicing so much that you can see how much you’ve grown and improved even within the span of 6 months. You can also keep track of your mental health with a sketchbook. It’s nice to look back at the shitty periods of life and realize you’ve made it to the other side. Art, at least for me, really reflects how I feel figuratively. When I was in college I used to draw very bloody characters and even drew an Adam and Eve with Eve eating Adam’s heart out. Look at my portfolio and I’ve obviously grown out of that phase.