Sketchbook tumblelog #1

 

I often feel like I don’t draw enough.

Like, I look at the tumblelogs of illustrators I admire and it’s just like a million different amazing sketches and exercises outside of their actual published work and I’m just like HUH I am very bad at this illustration caper.

Up until a couple of months ago, I didn’t really sketch very much. Like, at all. Sure, I would draw, but I would sit down with my pencils and paints with the sole intention of illustrating a piece for Outlier, and that was it.

I didn’t really grasp it at the time, but I was putting myself under of a lot of pressure. I would expect myself to create a perfect illustration the first time, every time. This was partially the result of working full-time in a job that drained the shit out of me (poor turn of phrase?); I would come home after work and illustration was kind of a ‘have to’ thing if I wanted to grow Outlier. The pressure I put on myself to nail a piece on the first go meant I started dreading illustration, and I think it really shows in some of the work I did before I took a step back and decided to loosen up a bit.

Failing to sketch also meant illustration got boring for me. I had no room for fun or play or experimentation. It was more of a ‘wham bam thank you ma’am’ kind of deal; get in and get out with something I could publish and then move on to the next piece.

But since I started making an effort to sketch more, I’ve started to enjoy illustration again. My style has also changed in a huge way, and it’s still evolving. I’m slowly finding what kind of artist I am and what kind of artist I want to be, just by drawing within the safety of my private sketchbook.

I feel really stupid to have just figured this out now. I also wonder why I never felt compelled in the past to just sketch for the sake of it—am I not really that into drawing after all? Should I maybe not be pursuing illustration if I have to force it?

These questions do trouble me sometimes. But ultimately, I think I was crippled by fear. I was afraid to let loose and see what would come out. In a weird way, my regimented approach to illustration protected me: from judgement, from my own self-doubt. Until it didn’t, and I had to do something about it.

There’s a lot of shit in my sketchbook, and some of it also makes me think GAH WHY AM I DOING THIS. But I have to keep reminding myself that it’s part of the process. So here’s some of it from the past few months: some drawn for publication, some drawn just for myself.

 
 Tourists at Fushimi-Inari, Japan.

Tourists at Fushimi-Inari, Japan.

 Chinese workers resting on steps along the Bund.

Chinese workers resting on steps along the Bund.

 Portrait of illustrator  Gizem Vural, for Outlier .

Portrait of illustrator Gizem Vural, for Outlier.

 Dinner with Thao at Just Falafs in Fitzroy North.

Dinner with Thao at Just Falafs in Fitzroy North.

 Quick pencil study of female form.

Quick pencil study of female form.

 Woman cooking bindaetteok at Gwangjang Market, Seoul.

Woman cooking bindaetteok at Gwangjang Market, Seoul.

 Couple looking at produce outside a shop in San Francisco's Chinatown.

Couple looking at produce outside a shop in San Francisco's Chinatown.

 Sketch of artist and designer  Abbey Rich for Outlier .

Sketch of artist and designer Abbey Rich for Outlier.

 People navigating Shibuya Crossing.

People navigating Shibuya Crossing.

 T***p.

T***p.

 
 Spacey.

Spacey.

 
 Me jumping into Halong Bay.

Me jumping into Halong Bay.

 Man dining in at a ramen place in Tokyo.

Man dining in at a ramen place in Tokyo.

 Collage of designer and illustrator  Beci Orpin for Outlier .

Collage of designer and illustrator Beci Orpin for Outlier.

 New York Stock Exchange.

New York Stock Exchange.