Hi Everyone! I recently began working in a different style of illustration, one that I've been thinking about and playing with for a long time. I thought I'd share a bit about my process and my creative "breakthrough". I feel that I have a consistent style as far as my illustrations go, but my paintings are a bit more free flowing and intuitive.
As you can see, they have some of the same elements but I wanted to combine my approaches and create a more loose style with my illustration. Here is what happened when I explored a bit to create this new style. I've added some exercises for you to do at home if you want to explore this in your own work.
There is certain imagery that comes out naturally when I doodle without having to think about it. When I sit down with a sketchbook and pen, I get in "the zone", my mind relaxes and I draw things like this:
EXERCISE 1. Put some music on and just draw whatever comes out of you head and onto the sketchbook. It might be shapes, doodles, lines, whatever! Chances are, this is imagery that is unique to you. What aspects keep repeating themselves? What are the things you like to draw and gravitate towards?
If you look around, inspiration is everywhere. A great place to compile inspiration is Pintrest. I like to have boards where I collect symbols, petroglyphs or art from ancient cultures and sketch from those. Here I took some imagery from those boards and combined it with my doodles.
EXERCISE 2. Look around at what inspires you. This could be a museum, nature or your Pintrest board! Start pinning any imagery that appeals to you. It doesn't have to be art or illustration. Pintrest allows you to find a range of things that you are attracted to and these things make you unique. What are you naturally drawn to? From there, just begin drawing using these boards or photos as inspiration and see what comes out! Try not to hold yourself back or judge yourself when you are doing this...feel free to experiment, nothing is a mistake when you are exploring like this. It feels great to release your creativity in this way!
I had an idea in my mind of a composition that I wanted to create, so before I "freed my mind" by sketching from my pintrest board (above), I had made this sketch:
It felt a little static and stuck to me so I began combining the imagery that I doodled from my boards into this sketch and came up with this image which I love! It still has a layout that is similar, but I used my inspired sketches to refine the elements. Look at the dog which was inspired by some weird Mayan animal, he has so much more character then the one in my sketch!:
EXERCISE 3. Look at your sketchbook - what do you like about what you created? Is it the patterns, linework, the way you drew your characters? Combine sketches with the imagery, linework or "feel" in your doodles into an illustration. Play with how your doodles interact with each other. Add this into your illustration.
I find that this way of working is liberating if you feel yourself getting stuck in your head - as I often do, or if you are looking for a new idea. Freely sketching in your sketchbook allows you to get over the idea that you might mess something up or do something wrong. Then your true self comes out! Obviously your work will always evolve and get refined but I hope this helps you in your illustration journey. Here is another image created in this style for my Seattle series: