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.