It's been a while. I know. Sorry about that. But I ILLUSTRATED A CHILDREN'S BOOK.
You can get it here, and see some sample illustrations on my site and on my Instagram and Twitter page. Oh yeah, I'm getting REAL promotional here. Oh, I also have an Instagram now. Lots of changes.
But I'm also going to write about what it was like for me to work and complete a children's book.
It all started when Ashley Lauren West, a writer contacted me, asking if I'd be interested in illustrating a children's book.
I have to be honest - during the first couple of weeks of talking with Ashley, it all felt like a joke, like it wasn't serious, like how could I be the one to do something like this, surely I wasn't good enough, has she seen my work, is it even children-material?
And so on.
Fortunately, Ashley was wonderful, encouraging, and really helped me believe in myself while also allowing me to creatively approach the children's book in a way that made me feel very comfortable and confident.
I'll write separate blog posts for each illustration in more detail - here I want to talk more about how I approached such a big project and some of the struggles I had to overcome.
I've written about impostor syndrome, doubt, and self-defeating thoughts before and BOY does that come into play when you're tasked with a major project, especially one with so much weight as 'children's book'. This became much more apparent as I was telling people it was something I was working on.
"A children's book, that's amazing/wonderful/fantastic/great" was usually the reaction I got after talking mentioning that I had a project in the works. I loved the enthusiasm my friends had but their very genuine reaction concerned me. Of course, my thought even before I put pen to paper (and even after putting pen to paper) was always "what if I don't do well?"
It's something that I often think and can usually ignore, but when it keeps surfacing through the lifetime of a project, it becomes harder to ignore. Fortunately, there are pros and cons when working on projects like this.
1) They're collaborative projects.
I worked pretty closely with Ashley, getting her feedback and thoughts with sketches, color versions, and final pieces. What was most encouraging was that Ashley liked basically everything I was doing. Given that I was particularly sensitive, especially in during the beginning of the project, it was very rewarding to hear positive feedback.
2) You're working on multiple 'problems' rather than one.
I sometimes consider illustrations as 'creative problem solving' in a literal sense. That's especially true when I'm farther along some illustrations and I'm trying to figure out what's missing in an illustration. Sometimes if it takes too long for me to figure out, it gets frustrating but when working with so many illustrations, it was easier for me to just move to a different illustration and get farther along that one.
3) You see success along the way.
The book consisted of 12 illustrations and a cover. I worked on the 12 at the same time so it was very rewarding whenever I finished one, knowing that, hey, I can do this, and just had to continue doing it the 2nd, 3rd, 11th, and 12th time. This became especially helpful once I was more than halfway done. By that time, I knew where nearly every illustration was going, directionally, and it was an exciting pace to continue finishing each piece.
So those are the pros to the project. There were some cons - although I admit these are small complaints and one all illustrators need to get used to.
1) I couldn't show any of the work!
This was the biggest one for me. I constantly felt prouder and prouder of my illustrations but I couldn't be vocal or public about it. Since I want to continue my career in illustration - it was difficult knowing my portfolio was missing these images that I felt were some of my best work.
2) It didn't feel as personal
I know. On one hand, it's collaborative. On the other, it's collaborative. We're a complicated species and very often, contradictory. I wanted to work on images that were strictly mine. Although, that's probably the 'artist' speaking, and not the 'illustrator'.
3) I felt bad working on personal projects
This is a con I need to get over. I felt like I couldn't devote any illustration time to my own work because I had a children's book to finish! Of course, this is the wrong mindset and while it's easy to talk about how wrong it is, it's a little harder to put it in perspective.
Anyway, those were the specific pros and cons to my illustrating this children's book. But ultimately, it's been a HUGE opportunity that has led to so much more and I'm forever happy and grateful that I've been give this chance to do this.
As the weeks (possibly months) pass, I'll talk about some specific paintings, my process, my struggles, and what I learned along the way.
Thanks for reading.