This is a question I often ask myself, how do you stay motivated and stick with a project? I have too many ideas in my head, too many things I start, and not enough projects I actually finish. When I was younger, I approached HUGE projects (large watercolored graphic novels, for instance) and managed to see the project to the end with an intense focus, but these days it’s getting harder and harder. Is it the constant information overload that causes us all to run around like headless chickens? Is there just too much to do? Or is it just the span of potential projects that’s daunting?
Here are the big things in my life right now that I’m juggling and nurturing:
If you asked me a year ago what my dream project would be, I’d say it would be to design and brand for companies featuring my illustration work. That seemed like a far-reaching dream, and I don’t think I’d have found a way to do it on my own. Now, I find myself with a fun client that’s allowing me to brand a new company (that I can’t wait to share!), but I’m also working and learning the ropes at a really great design studio (ThisIsStar). It all happened so naturally it makes me smile. When you have a CV of gaming art jobs, animation and comics, a recruiter for an entry-level graphic design position won’t even talk to you. But I found myself drawn to layouts, typography and hand-lettering more and more, filling my time reading design blogs and downloading type books, so I reached out to my friend, superstar designer and artist Star. A lunch led to more correspondence, a couple design projects, and now I’m assisting on her design projects at This is Star. She’s been awesomely supportive and great resource of knowledge!
I’m learning on the job to refine my taste, lay-out projects, experiment with color, moodboards and logo designs. As I apply my illustration experience to graphic design principles, the connective threads between practices become apparent, and I find it fascinating. Design is design is design, I suppose. From illustration to animation to character design to comic books, they’re all closely related, it’s all more close-knit than I thought and design seems to be the way it is presented and how you communicate an idea with the rest of the world.
I simply cannot express the importance of friends, especially in a competitive field like this. While a company might not take a risk on you when you’re switching career goals, a smart friend might see potential. And you never know when an old client might hit you up with a new project! Freelancing is still new to me, but it seems like there’s no rhyme or reason to it, it’s just constant communication and staying open for the things that find you.
I’m beyond thrilled to be working with Star, and we’re going to my first design conference next month! Lady designers are awesome.
There’s a boom in hand-lettering, from sign-painting to hand-lettered logos. You see brushy hand-lettered titles and sayings all over the place. And guess what? I love handwriting! I’ve been hand-lettering comics since I started drawing comics, and preferred the looseness of it over any font. Now I’m realizing that my hand needs some refinement, but there’s a lot of help for that! I recently signed up over at Skillshare, and there’s a TON of handlettering classes taught by great lettering artists like Mary Kate McDevitt, Simon Walker, and Spencer Charles. Star sent me to these classes as homework, and those 3 classes combined really gives a broad spectrum of lettering techniques and tools. Some of those tips have refined my process of writing immensely! I don’t think I’ll ever really lose my rough edges, nor do I want to, but getting some type discipline and tighter process is making everything look a lot better.
Patterns + Fashion
I’ve been spending some time looking over my past work and realized the patterns I did for Nooworks are still some of my favorites. I LOVE creating illustrated patterns, I like sketching a bunch of ideas, bringing them all into Photoshop and figuring out how they’ll fit together. I like masses of shape and color. I want to see my patterns on everything, and it seems to go hand-in-hand with my new design work, especially if I gear it towards the fashion world. I created this field of kittens pattern in an afternoon, and even made some merch on Society6!
Let’s not forget comics! I’ve had to put them on the backburner during this time of, ahem, needing to make an income, but I’m starting to find little blocks of time to return to comics. My collaboration with Eddie Wright, Chrysalis, is still in an early stage of production, but we’re starting to make some convention appearances together. This weekend is the San Francisco Zine Fest, and we’ll be sharing a table and selling copies of Chrysalis #0, a magazine that collects the first 10 pages of the comic, a bunch of my art, and two stories written by Eddie. I’m excited to design this book and get some eyes on it! Now we’re booked for A.P.E. as well, so I’m going to have to hustle to get more comic pages done!
I still want to keep drawing the diary comics and have another project that’s taking formation…
Sadly, a Squarespace account made sense for a concept artist website, but as I merge into design, I’m having to learn some website building skills. My first big project is going to be migrating this site back over to WordPress and designing the new look for it. For now it’s research research research and organizing my files as I transition.
Those are the main projects keeping me busy, they all feel very much In Progress but I’m learning to embrace that.