A personal post of sorts…
I seldom make text posts here, but I feel the time has come to do so.
When I first started to take drawing “seriously” (a bit of a silly term!) when I was about 16 or so, my very first inspirations were Disney and well, just like any other girl around that time, Sailor Moon. Unfortunately I had never been good at tracing or copying like other kids - I have a super shaky hand and I my depth of perception is just a tiny bit out, so I can never get things exactly right - so when I tried to draw things in the style of these two inspirations, it always came out a bit wonky and not quite right. But I kept drawing, kept discovering and kept pushing myself to get better. Eventually I discovered that by doing this, I had found my own style and my own way of doing things. My breadth of inspiration also expanded to include Jamie Hewlett (of Gorillaz and Tank Girl fame) and a sprinkling of shows like Fat Albert and other obscure (for a teenager!) things.
And then I went to art school.
I discovered that as much as I had my own style, there were so many things I hadn’t learnt yet and was honestly not very good at. For the first time I was going to life drawing lessons for three hours a week, sitting there and learning how to draw the figure properly. I basically started over again; my style dipped and changed for about a year or two, until I found a happy medium between the new skills I had learnt and the old style that I wanted to still keep around. Added to that, I found that so many things that I had trouble with before I could suddenly work through much more easily, because I had gone back and learnt those basics.
There are two things that are very important here when you are within the field of illustration; building a solid foundation in anatomy and other various skills and finding your own style. Learning that as much as you might like something like Disney or Anime, that style has already been perfected and developed from your basic life drawing sessions. Somebody has developed that style themselves over many years and much hard work. And it’s not really fair to the creator of that style for you to copy what is essentially them creating symbols that represent human anatomy and basic structure - because that’s really what illustration is about. But knowing that shouldn’t deter you. It should make you inspired to find your own path, your own direction. To find what works for you, to find your voice through your artwork. To be unique and to be true to yourself.
I become frustrated and sad when I see what I’ve mentioned above happening to fellow artists, and happening to myself. In no way do I consider myself a 100 percent developed illustrator; I still have a long way to go, and much to learn. But I am at a point now where I operate on a professional level, and that my style (as I’ve been told) is recognisable enough to pick out in a crowd of artwork. Illustration has become a source of income for me and is a part of my daily life. This is my job. My work. And it hurts me beyond belief when I have people coming to me with artwork by other people saying that it’s mine, or vice versa.
I have worked very hard to carve a little niche for myself on tumblr and above all, to develop myself to the point where I am at now. When I see my artwork being lifted or copied without permission - and just to be clear this is not about reposts or instagram, I have no problem with that kind of stuff in light of some events last year that I regret deeply - it hurts me personally. My artwork is a part of me - I know that’s terribly cliche, but it’s true. I put everything into my artwork, and often I express very personal thoughts and visions through it.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that for anybody that’s following me that may be an aspiring illustrator or working within the field, I want you to grow and blossom as your own person. You can’t be someone else, you can’t draw like somebody else. Because somebody else is already doing that, haha! You need to be you.
I hope this all makes sense, and once again thank you to everyone that’s followed me over my two years (so far!) on tumblr. It’s all very much appreciated and I want you guys to know that you’ve helped me become established in my field, something which a year ago I couldn’t even imagine.