Friday, October 27, 2006


I've been learning a lot lately.

I've got two big illustration projects on at the moment, and just received feedback on some roughs from both of them. One of them got hacked to pieces, and the other was almost perfect. I was walking around going grrrrr for two days, until I received the latter (positive) feedback, and now I'm flying high. Funny how another person's opinion can affect you so much.

I do graphic design as a 'day job' and am able to separate myself from my work pretty easily. I take changes or criticisms like water off a duck's back. But it's different with illustration. I think perhaps because often you are creating characters, and you live with them and get to like them, and then when someone tells you that they're wrong - that their hair should be curly instead of straight or their feet should be smaller or their eyes should be bigger - it's harder to accept because it's so much more emotional. I'm finding it hard anyway. (Especially when you send through a sample to show how you will draw X number of people, which the publisher accepts, but then requests across the board changes when you send all X illos through. sorry... I'm just bitching now. sigh.)

I'm also learning that, unless you are commissioned to do a specific style, most often generic is best. Don't stylize or interpret. If they ask for a red doghouse, don't give a red doghouse with white trim, a sign saying "fido" and a little doggie satellite TV, cause they'll just request you change it to a red doghouse. Plus they're probably not paying you enough to add all the extra details, so save yourself some time, finish early and go enjoy the evening with friends instead of slaving over a hot light box all night.

I can't say these are happy revelations necessarily. I love putting in all the little details. And I did actually have the thought when I got the negative feedback: "Is this what I want? to do artwork only to be criticized for it? to draw what i'm told to draw and that's it?" but then i remember: I'm getting paid to draw. I don't have to monitor the stock market or pick cotton or package fish fingers. I sit at home at my drawing board, looking out at my garden, and paint. and that's a pretty good life.


HildaRose said...

I hear you girl! I get that but it is usually on my design work. This type a little bigger, move it over here, make it red not blue etc. I get frustrated and wonder why they bothered to hire me, but I always do what I believe in first. I do it because I love it and I am the person that puts in the satillite dish on the dog house because my client would never have thought of it. That's what an illustrator/designer is. Someone you hire because you want some creative thinking and you can't do it yourself. So, don't give up on that satillite dish! You are not a drawer, you are an illustrator and always go there first. If they don't want the satillite dish then they can say it and you can take it out. But in the long run, they must understand that you are a satillite dish type of person so that next time they know that they will get "a red doghouse with white trim, a sign saying "fido" and a little doggie satellite TV".

futuregirl said...

You know, that happens at my job, too. I'm a web programmer. I create a useable application with a simple interface and then the client has me move the submit button off the page or makes me re-label things in a confusing way, and just generally ruins my application.

But, just like you, I'm getting paid to do this, so I just grit my teeth, smile, and muck it up.

I half agree with your philosophy of 'only give them what they ask for' and hildarose's 'put in the satalite dish.' Really, you have to balance out what you are getting paid with the time you take to create the art ... and then edit it, when they don't want the dish. Some clients might want you to branch out and surprise them. Others won't. Use your gut on that one.

rebecca said...

This post and these comments are fascinating and soooo appreciated. It is the kind of advice, real world grit that you have to experience rather than learn. thanks

Little said...

Hello Kim!!
This is Little.
You can come to my blog and guess who this is:
I came from BigChump's blog. ^^; I gotta get out of this building for a fire drill soon but I'll read your blog later. I like your template, cute! You gotta help me w/ mine ;)

irisz said...

You have to step over these people. If you can do it don't work someone who doesn't want your style and your work.
I always tell to the procucer: this is what i can do, this is me, i can't draw in other style, if you want some totally differen hire the perfect person for it. You have a strong style and i don't think that you should change it for anyone's favour.