Seeing the work of French illustrator Todd Borka on these candles and vases really brightened up my day today! What I also enjoy is the subtle changes in his style, which you can see over at his website. You can get your hands on these beauties over at his Etsy shop.
I’ve recently seen a lot of similar styles out in the market (especially the mid-century style illustrations that seem to be very popular) and I’m wondering if I should just give in and give people what they want, instead of pushing my cute-sy, female illustrations instead. I’m torn between wanting to earn more money by doing the popular thing (which will eat me up inside) or keep doing the style I love, but doesn’t get me the recognition (and the money) I’m looking for because it’s just not what people want right now. What do I do?
~ Sandra J.
I get this question a lot, and I want to let you know that you’re not alone in thinking about this!
While yes there might be certain styles that are more popular right now (also called trending), it doesn’t mean that there isn’t a market for your style. There’s a lot of reasons why you might not be getting the opportunities that you want. Right now off the top of my head the most glaring reason might just be that you’re introducing yourself (or even showing off your work) to the wrong market.
Going after clients who may only like a particular style will undoubtedly make your work harder. I’d suggest going off the beaten path here – instead of going after a company who might carry a variety of different styles (and unfortunately yours isn’t one of them), you would get better traction by being very specific in who you’re targeting. Instead of sending your resumes and portfolio en masse to every potential clients you come across, really know who their target audience is and make sure that your stuff works for them and helps add to their existing line; because otherwise it’s going to be an uphill climb for you, no matter how great your illustrations are.
Doing something that’s not your style will only crush your spirit in the long run, and that’s not healthy for any artist! You’ll end up jaded and confused, and not to mention lost when another trend comes along. It’s a vicious cycle that will only be doomed to repeat itself. So it’s not something I’d recommend to any artist – especially when your heart tells you that you should be doing something else.
Remember, just because you keep seeing styles that are more popular out there doesn’t mean that there isn’t a demand or room for your style. It might just take a bit more digging to unearth some cool companies that are looking for a someone like you! Sometimes it’s also helpful to put aside your dreams of working with big companies who are clearly not into your style right now too. Just because you’re not picked right now doesn’t mean you’re a failure! Don’t underestimate the pressure that you’ve put on yourself this way. You can always re-visit the idea again when you’ve worked with smaller, niche companies – you’d then have more to show, along with proof that your work sells. Those dream clients might just tune in after that, so don’t give up!
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Have you ever harboured the same thoughts as Sandra – wanting to give in to what’s trending right now instead of just pushing through with what you believe in? I’d love to hear your story and any advice you have to offer for Sandra!
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Journalist, writer and video-maker Andrea Chirichelli along with co-director Marco Bassi made a documentary called ILLUSTRATORS, that follows four Italian illustrators: Alessandro “Shout” Gottardo, Emiliano Ponzi, Olimpia Zagnoli and Francesco Poroli as they offer their views on the illustration industry that has transformed completely ever since the Internet’s arrival.
The documentary lasts approximately 70 minutes and is subtitled in English, and is truly inspiring in how they share their thoughts into an industry that has seen a marked change in the world of publishing, commercials and magazines.
According to Andrea, “ILLUSTRATORS is a journey of images in the creativity of a nation, Italy, depressed and mortified under the political and economic aspect, but still capable of showing its best side and bound to live, at least under the artistic profile, an outright “Second Renaissance.”
Grab a bucket of popcorn and bring your sketchbook fellow illustrators – there’s lots to learn from this amazing video.
Moving my hand across the sheet of paper never really seemed like a big deal to me. I love the feel of paper, and how a brush feels in my hand. People come up to me all the time and tell me how great it is to be able to draw. And of course they turn their heads from side to side and pooh-poohed the notion that I put out – that everyone can draw. Someone asked “how does it feel like when you draw?”
I love swimming. I love pools, specifically. Not the ocean, because I freak out when I saw dead corals one time and I get anxious at the idea of not having my feet touch ground. I imagine that there are things in the water waiting to grab my legs and pull me down when my friends are busy playing. Yes, I’ve tried getting over it, but this was the only thing that I couldn’t get past. Heights? Repelling and roller coaster rides blunted the fear. Staircases? I hardly remember that I once was scared of it. Anyway, back to the water.
I didn’t know how to swim until I was a teenager. Back then I swam only on the shallow end. The end that when you stood up the water reaches your waist. The sissy end – my friends would call it. At first I didn’t want to join them, but it got lonely. I asked myself – what was the worst thing that could happen? Drowning? Just hang on to the side and you’ll be fine. What if your leg cramps up and you can’t move them? Just hang on to the side and you’ll be fine. Fine.
So I made my way over to the deep end.
And slowly over the next few weeks, I found that I could float quite well. And I drifted away from the edges, letting go of the reassuring feel of the mosaic under my fingers and the sound of the lapping water against the hidden water overflow outlets. Swimming wasn’t hard at all, I thought. I could tread water in a way that made my father proud (he’s a water baby!) with just my legs keeping me afloat. And I wouldn’t drown even if I just used my hands.
Bobbing against the water and I found myself relaxing – I was using my body to stay afloat, but it was rhythmic and automatic, and not struggling spasms, like before. It felt good. I felt great.
And I moved further away from the edge. I did underwater somersaults. Backward flips, front-freewheeling balls. I was weightless, and I never felt freer in my life.
Drawing, to me, reminds me of being in the water. Where not only is my mind free to wander and to do backflips, but my hand as well. I draw from my shoulder, and not just my wrist – I move my arm and my shoulder, just like I would as I float in a pool.
I don’t fight the water, I embrace it – and I can feel myself melt into the invisible pores of the water, as if we are one.
It’s exactly how I feel with a brush in my hand.
I allow it to take over; hand, body, mind, and heart. And it feels like I’m swimming.
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How does it feel like for you? Whether you’re drawing, painting, or creating – what goes through your mind when you’re in the flow?
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