Illustrations don’t start out looking beautiful!

I’m a huge fan of illustrators who show their work! I am continually inspired by artists and illustrators who put it all out there for us to see, beautiful or not! I think I love seeing this sort of thing because it makes me feel more legitimate as an artist myself.

I did not go to school for art, illustration or design, and this makes me feel like I have no business calling myself an artist. I feel like I shouldn’t show my work, just in case my “form” is improper or something. I worry about this so much, that I couldn’t bring myself to ask a clerk at a local art supplier what type of paintbrush I should use to work with watercolour pencils! I felt terribly embarrassed to disclose any part of my process, just in case my technique was wrong. I hated feeling like that, and I’ve decided that I’m not going to feel like that anymore.

So here’s a rough sketch that I’m working on for a “client” (hehe! It’s for my husband, but it’s fun to call him a client).

Scan 7

This is the initial stage of my process for a new illustration. I’ve recently started just “winging it” in terms of the initial sketch, but only when the subject is something I’m familiar with (such as a horse and a human). I worry about refining the sketch after I have a rough sketch.

Lots of us feel “illegitimate”!

I recently picked up a book by Jessica Hische called “In Progress“. As I looked at many of the rough sketches in her book, I found myself tearing up. I felt somehow “connected” to Jessica Hische because I could see that she has to work out her ideas just as I do (as I’m sure many artists do). I should also state that it’s not like I thought that she just walked into her studio, batted her eyelashes at her monitor and gorgeous lettering magically appeared. I do realize that professionals have to work at their craft the same as the rest of us, but seeing those rough sketches somehow made my own process feel more “legitimate”.

Then two weeks ago I had the good fortune of getting to speak to illustrator Alanna Cavanagh after a talk that she gave in Toronto. During her talk Alanna Cavanagh showed examples of her early work. She also discussed how, like myself, she didn’t go to school for art. After her talk I asked her if she felt that this was a disadvantage for illustrators today she told me, “Oh no! Don’t let that stop you.” What great advice! 😀

To further boost my sense of legitimacy as an artist, yesterday I came across a post by Lisa Congdon (one of my other all-time, favourite artists!) in which she discusses her same struggle with feeling “legitimate”. Apparently many artists feel this way! It doesn’t seem to matter if the artist has studied art, or even if they’ve been a working artist for some time. We constantly question our legitimacy, which is something we need to stop doing.

We are artists!

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