Since I visited the UK for a couple of weeks in the winter of 2017/18, I’ve been struggling with feelings of inadequacy in regards to my illustration practice. I met a couple of other illustrators while I was over there, and I follow several on Instagram whose style I admire very much. I know it’s not good to ‘compare’, but I do notice a gap in regards to how I love the creativity of other people’s work and am dissatisfied with my own work, which I feel lacks imagination. I’m good at drawing what’s in front of me; I always have been, but I struggle with confidence in regards to my actual creative abilities. For example, my ability to stylise my work or create characters, or draw from my imagination with nothing for reference is something I don’t feel wholly comfortable with. The illustrators I like are generally very good at this, and I’m constantly in awe of their bravery and creativity.
So why do you make that work then?
I paint the watercolours I paint in the way I do because I wanted to get into editorial illustration. Why? Because I wanted a quick way to make money using illustration, which would allow me to quit my 9-5 job. After a year, has it worked? The answer to that is ‘no’! I’m still in my 9-5, with no income from illustration as of yet, and growing dissatisfaction with a practice that I am finding formulaic, unimaginative and unchallenging.
What kind of work do you want to make? I was told by a few people I respect a lot as illustrators that I should be ‘making the work I want to make’, because that it what people will end up hiring me for. But what is that exactly? I know the kind of work I like; its colourful, expressive and imaginative. It fills the page and makes you look again. It’s a bit crazy and free, with a mixture of patterns and empty space. It’s carefree and you can tell the person who made it has no fear of being creative. That’s the kind of work I want to make.
So, how are you gong to start?
Fear of failure can be pretty paralysing. To get around that, I thought I’d set myself the goal of 30 illustrations in 30 days, from Jan 22nd – 20th Feb 2018. This means there’s no time for self-doubt or questioning my style; I just have to get on with it. So, here is illustration 1/30! It’s snowing in Tokyo today, so I have no trouble thinking what to draw! Wish me luck for the rest of the month!