|© Holly DeWolf- A body of work!|
"New ideas pass through three periods: 1. It can’t be done. 2. It probably can be done, but it’s not worth doing. 3. I knew it was a good idea all along!"
- Arthur C. Clarke
Isn't it amazing how our styles can change over the years?
Redesigning a website was a huge reminder to get tough on my work and select certain pieces that work better than others. This can be quite a process depending on how big that pile is. Quite frankly, it made my head hurt to narrow it down to one grouping.
Sitting in a Sentry safe is my body of work. As I reminisced over old projects, some of the work made me cringe and some of it made me what was I thinking. The good work makes me smile and the older work makes me feel wiser. The best part- it's all mine made with my two hands over the past 20 years.
When critiquing my body of work, I always remind myself to try and stay kind. As you know, we are ALWAYS our worst critics.
Quite simply, a body of work is a process:
1. It takes time and patience-
I remember the days when I felt I wasn't getting anywhere and my concepts were still weak. Little by little, challenges were met and troublesome problems were figured out. I remember certain things like noses, hands and certain objects like bikes were hard to get my pencil around. Over time, I learned methods and techniques to make it easier. I still hit hard spots every once and a while but now I can maneuver the work a lot faster than before.
"Good ideas are not adopted automatically. They must be driven into practice with courageous patience." - Hyman Rickover
2. It can take a lifetime-
A portfolio is a constant process of eliminating and adding work. Style is everything in our industry and keeping our work out there and current is a full time job. I say keep the bad work. Look at it often and let it be a reminder of how far you're come. If it's really terrible, see it as a challenge by re-doing it so you can say you mastered that idea!
"Believe in something larger than yourself. . . Get involved in the big ideas of your time." - Barbara Bush
We must grow and change as illustrators. We need feedback even if it feels harsh at times. Rejection is part of the process and reinvention is no different. Reinvention means to grab something new, to make major changes or improvements to your work, remake or redo it completely or make it useful in a new way.
"Ideas can be life-changing. Sometimes all you need to open the door is just one more good idea." - Jim Rohn
Learning daily is more than just a motto that I live by. It also prevents boredom and the general routine working at home creates. Education is important to me because I am a sponge and I like collecting knowledge even if I do not use it right away- a plethora of useful/useless knowledge is good for you I say! Education is important because I'd like to teach in the future. I've made a lifetime out of sharing ideas and I have no plans to stop anytime soon.
"A mind that is stretched to a new idea never returns to its original dimension."
- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
5. Practice makes better-
A continual process of building a body of work is to practice everyday. I make doodles, sketches and concepts daily. Some of these doodles wont make it to the illustration stage. The ones that do are made into client work or self directed work. It's all part of the building process.
"Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life – think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success, that is way great spiritual giants are produced." - Swami Vivekananda
6. Creative confidence
Developing a sense of creative self can take a lifetime depending on your personality and the types of work you get. The feedback, community and support you have makes a huge difference too. Sharing ideas has always helped me grow and that kind of education is priceless all by itself!
"Get a good idea and stay with it. Dog it, and work at it until it’s done right."
- Walt Disney
7. Dry spells-
There are many things that can prevent the work from happening from burnout to the challenges life throws at us. Early on, these set back were not welcomed at all. Now I see the downtime as a mini vacation to put my efforts elsewhere. Yes, I'm a recovered workaholic and I believe in stepping away more and more as I get older. I used to be on 24/7 and I can tell you it leads to burnout and creative restlessness. Dry spells are your brains way of telling you something. It typically means, you need a break, a new routine or a vacation!
"My ideas usually come not at my desk writing but in the midst of living."
- Anais Nin
8. Certain themes and trends-
As illustrators, we are going to nurture what interests us at any given moment. We are going to be constantly looking at what the market is doing, what other illustrators are doing, what's trending and what the public is drawn to. I love working with themes because it challenges me. Trends also challenge me, but I try add my own spin on it or create the opposite to what is popular!
"Good ideas are common – what’s uncommon are people who’ll work hard enough to bring them about." - Ashleigh Brilliant
Constant mess making is really important even if it does not lead to anything other than a full garbage can. I take my daily creative hour pretty seriously. It's a nice time to just make something without a plan, without a client, free of judgment while creating something without a purpose. It's liberating!
"An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all."
- Oscar Wilde
10. So many mistakes-
Let's face it, we are all amateurs at some point. We blow things up and some projects go bad and that's okay. Illustration is not about being perfect because it's not a race or something that just suddenly ends. If we were perfect at it, we would get bored of it. There would be no progression, learning curves, forks in the road or challenges to it. Perfect means done. To stay creative is to actively act on ideas and to never be finished.
"Often the difference between a successful person and a failure is not one has better abilities or ideas, but the courage that one has to bet on one’s ideas, to take a calculated risk – and to act." - Andre Malraux
"An idea not coupled with action will never get any bigger than the brain cell it occupied." - Arnold H. Glasgow
Thanks for reading. Let's keep the conversation going!