This morning on checking my emails before starting work, while waiting for a valiant knight to arrive to rescue me from the chaos and disorder of the Filth Troll that inhabits my home I found an email from a young student in Pennsylvania, USA asking for advice about illustration. A lovely email. Mostly it asked for tips and advice. As I get more and more emails asking about this I have decided to reply in a blog post:
“Thanks for your email. You too have inspired me to get on with my work. I am almost at the end of a book now and that is a hard place to be but it’s nearly there.
Very important to draw as much as you can. Doesn’t matter what it looks like just draw, all the time, every day, where ever you are. Drawing is only about looking and seeing at the end of the day. So, first advice is get a sketch book and carry it everywhere and doodle and look and draw.
You can work anywhere. This is a lesson I learnt from looking at the work of Kathy Kollwitz. She drew the most beautiful pictures whilst being interned in a concentration camp. So often I hear people say that they will work when they have a studio space made. I have worked in the corners of rooms, a caravan in the garden and now I am lucky and have a studio that is all mine! And I am also very fortunate to have lived when and where I do. But it’s not the space outside that matters its the space inside your head. This is where creativity happens.
Make the most of any and all opportunities that come your way. Be open hearted, but not to the point where people take advantage of you. Value yourself, your unique voice and your work.
The time to start worrying is when you look at your work and think ‘wow, that’s brilliant’. Part of what will keep you going is a constant striving towards perfection, but probably you will never get there, because with every new thing that you learn, every new way of looking and seeing you will open up the opportunity for new knowledge, new paths to walk, new learning.
Try to look at things in different ways, always question.
Don’t expect to make a fortune, especially if you are thinking of working in books. If you want fortune and glory you will find that very few people attain it this way, but if you love what you do ( the doing of it, not necessarily the finished project) you will have a life that is rich in so many more interesting ways.
But mainly, back to the beginning. Draw. Every day. Doodle, scribble, meander a pen over paper, make marks. This is a lesson I need to relearn as i am too much tangled up in expecting things to ‘look good’ and I don’t do enough drawing just for the sake of the practice itself. So thank you, for making me think about what I do.
Hope this helps.
Can others please add advice in comments, things that have most helped you.