Drawing, Painting, Thoughts

Portfolio Pride

PORTFOLIO PRIDE

It’s taken me this long in my illustration career to realise that a portfolio is – needs to be – a constantly dynamic thing. Thankfully, we illustrators very rarely need to carry around neat black folders of printed work any more: everything is online, and this is a much easier format for change.

That said, I resist it. I was upset a few weeks ago when I deleted my website’s portfolio section by accident. I still have copies of all the work, but making the selections of what to include is always a challenge. I was gifted the opportunity to start over, which I might never have done, and it turns out my portfolio needed a massive clear out.

Hardraw ForceBowerbird 3Lost Mitten

So how did I pick what went in? I asked myself three questions:

Is it current?

I began by only looking at work from 2014 and 2015. Despite feeling like I’ve been ‘taking a break’ these last couple of years, I discovered I had created more than a portfolio’s worth of pieces that are strong, and reflect my current approaches (note the considerable delegation from team scratch board!). In the end, I did also choose one piece that was older to complemented my choices, but that’s all.

DoodlesAlasdair Roberts PosterThe Courage To Be Me

Am I proud of it?

Some people might advise against being so subjective, but I think it’s vital. It looked better as soon as I took out all of the piece I thought I should include, or that other people had like but I’d never felt so strongly about. I know sometimes feeling pride is challenging; we all have days when we feel nothing we’ve done lives up to our hopes (maybe try not to pick a portfolio on one of those days?). But I think we all also know what it feels like to be really chuffed with something. It felt good to pick only pieces like that.

More Than YarnWell WishesOh the potential!

Is it the kind of work I want to do?

There were some pieces that satisfied both of the above clauses, but that just didn’t quite fit. On analysis, these were all pieces created in coloured inks, and they were all very personal. I love this medium when working at my own pace, without pressure, when it doesn’t really matter if things don’t go to plan. But I feel nauseous at the thought of working in this medium for a client, therefore it does not belong my portfolio. What a relief!

A Comic for Jason MolinaGeorge

Finally, I think the best thing I can do for my portfolio is keep it dynamic. In the end I have chosen 12 pieces, which you can see here, and 3 comics, which you can see here. But my plan is that this selection will continue to change to reflect my most current work, both by adding and by taking away.

Painting, Sewing, Work In Progress

Repeating Myself

Blackberry-Underlayer-2

Lately I’ve become obsessed with sewing, and textiles, and patterns, and this obsession has meant I’ve finally got around to trying something I’ve been meaning to have a go at for a long time: designing repeating patterns. I am constantly inspired by colours and textures and over the years many people have suggested my style would lend itself to creating fabric designs. I don’t quite know why it’s taken me so long to have a stab at it, because it’s so much fun!

I used the blackberries I painted last week, and followed Julia Rothman’s exquisitely simple and easy-to-follow tutorial on Design Sponge (though I worked digitally, rather than cutting up my painting with scissors!)

Blackberry

I began by setting up the repeat, then I tried adding an ink wash background (which I’d painted separately). I like the result, but somehow I find it looks…tableclothy? Is that just me?

Blackberry Repeat

Blackberry-Green

So I got to wondering about what it might be that makes a print look like something you’d dress your dinner table with rather than yourself, and kept experimenting. I tried altering the colour of the background but it didn’t especially help. I started to see some improvement when I added more layers of brambles below the surface. The addition of depth, I think, must be part of the answer to my question.

Blackberry-Underlayer-1 Blackberry-Underlayer-2

Hours later, I’m still siting here twiddling with layers and colours, not to mention imagining one hundred more designs I might try. I’ve heard several designers mention that this process is addictive, and I begin to see what they mean. I definitely want to try more, play more, learn more.

And eventually I will bite the bullet and order a swatch from Spoonflower…

Painting

George

Earlier this week I shared a scene from Lighter Than My Shadow that didn’t quite make it into the book. It featured my family’s dog, George, doing one of the things dogs do best. It got me thinking about him, remembering him fondly, and then I remembered this painting of him I made recently but hadn’t shared. Here he is in his favourite environment: my aunt’s vegetable garden, with a tennis ball in his mouth (which he must have just found, because if he’d had it a moment longer it would have been shredded and destroyed!).

George

george-details