I have a life time of drawing under my belt, but have been working to really refine my craft as an illustrator for the last six years. These years have been spent training my eyes to see things the way they really are and my hand to relay that image precisely the way that I want it to in a variety of mediums. My continued dedication to my craft is what elevates my work beyond just a place of inspiration and happy accidents to a place of reliable quality and intentionality that results in consistent professional work. But there's another element that affects my work as an illustrator, and that is my personal style. I think G. K. Chesterton's description does a good job at getting inside my head with this thought:
"There is at the back of every artist's mind, something like a pattern or a type of architecture, it is a thing like the landscape of his dreams; the sort of world he would wish to make or in which he would wish to wander; the strange flora and fauna of his own secret planet."
In fact, once after I sent a description of a vivid dream I'd had in a letter, my pen-pal replied telling me that:
"There is something about the way in which your mind, conscious or otherwise, be it in words, sketches or dreams, constructs imagery which is completely unique to you and couldn't possibly be mistaken for the introspections of anyone else I know."
It struck me that It's wonderful to think about a whole curiosity cabinet full of experiences, inspirations and muse living inside of my brain that colors all of my thoughts and consequently, the work that I do. But sometimes, I find that the control that I've worked so hard to achieve can actually restrict my sense of style. As I strive for perfection it can sometimes be hard to tap into my inner world and sense of personal style. But I believe that artistic play can allow us to push past these boundaries. This experimentation can become a crucial aspect of an artist's continued development of style in their work.
And so, lately I've been trying to really let go a little and play. If you've been following me on Instagram, you've probably seen the evidence of this as I've been defacing vintage photos with drawings, cutting paper, and sewing illustrated layers onto whimsical back drops. The work you see featured in this particular post is in a style that is graphic novel inspired. I've been inspired by the simultaneously beautiful and simple style required of this imagery while reading other graphic novels like 5,000 KM Per Second and Stitches. Every time I read a new graphic novel, I always fall asleep at night imagining different vignettes of my life in this style. And so today I finally got around to experimenting a bit and actually working one up. I had a lot of fun with this minimally colored piece and could imagine creating more work like this in the future. Perhaps someday it will move beyond play, and I will do a whole story.