Finding your illustration style
People always ask me how I found my illustration style and how do I keep my work consistent across my portfolio? Honestly, I want to say I have never given it much thought and I just draw how it comes out - I know that isn't a very helpful answer.
But now I am thinking about it. I think drawing is like handwriting, everybody draws in their own way. Since graduating from university 7 years ago, my drawing skills and style has improved over time with practice. But my work still has kept the same characteristics. For example, my illustrations are more accurate these days but the lines I draw are still wonky and wobbly all of the time. I literally can’t draw a straight line to save my life, even on a computer. So I figure it’s just the way I naturally draw. I have always liked mark making and I get totally obsessed with drawing dots, lines, circles, pips, drops etc repetitively over everything. You would think I will get bored of drawing the same thing over and over one day, but it is addictive. I love all of the textures and marks made by handmade processes like printmaking, painting and collage scrapbooking, and I think this comes across in my illustrations. I experiment a lot with different materials and processes in my sketchbook because it keeps me inspired and helps my ideas flow. I stick to digital illustration for my commercial work because I love working on the Mac with colours and layouts. I also find it suits the type of briefs that I want to do, and it is very practical. I find that people recognise my work by my wobbly drawings, and the medium. I found that working consistently with the same tools and process has helped my work become recognisable. This has been a big challenge for me because I like to experiment with ALL of the art materials and EVERY colour of the rainbow, which does not work for most commercial briefs. So I’ve had to learn to be disciplined with my colour palettes and technique! When I’m drawing I like to communicate moods, this often comes naturally to me because I am a very sensitive person, and let’s just say I can definitely feel the atmosphere when I walk into a room. As a person I’ve always been a bit odd and I like to have my own individuality. I’m not easily influenced by anything , I just like what I like and I won’t follow the crowd if I don’t like it. So I can’t say I’ve ever tried to draw like another artist.
So the point I’m making is, when you are trying to find your illustration style just be yourself. Don’t compare yourself to other illustrators. When you are creating an illustration be true to yourself, and your style will naturally come out. Experiment with all of the techniques, processes and materials to find out what works for you. Draw the things that you love and you will likely get commissioned to draw more of the same thing! Stop worrying about what other people think and produce work that you like. Not everyone is going to like your work and that’s ok.
Here are a couple of my favourite illustrations I have made recently, they were just personal projects :)