Why I'm Participating in Inktober

I'd always wanted to participate in Jake Parker's challenge/activity but found a way to let it slip by, marveling at others work but not jumping in myself. Last year I jumped in and really grew a lot from the experience even though I only did a few illustrations.

 Inktober, 2016

Inktober, 2016

Last year I went in not just wanting to make some fun stuff along with the rest of the illustration/art world but to accomplish something more tangible; an exploration or a stretching of something atrophied. I decided to work in ink and cut paper, limiting myself to just those two things. I'm a huge Eric Carle fan and really love collage. It was a big part of my work in college (Don't ask, I'm not showing). 

There's a lot of that influence in what I try to do. What happens when I focus on cut edges that are less precise? How does line work to shore that up? Last year's experiments in Inktober left an indelible and outsized mark on my current work. This is very much in line with Mr. Parker's reason for starting Inktober in the first place. He wanted to get better at inking. So what about this year? What rules am I playing by and what's the goal?

My personal 2017 rules for Inktober

  1. Creepy and Cute: Halloween all month? Yep.
  2. 2 Colors: I love color and use it liberally. But I really love limiting myself and playing with overlays and other settings in Photoshop.
  3. 1 Texture: Collage is fun, but what about limiting it to just one random texture file?  
  4. Not ink, but close: I'll try to use my favorite "pencil" in Photoshop with less "command Z" to mimic ink work. (Some folks may say "hey, you're not doing ink drawings!" and that's true. For meeting my goals this year,  I want to focus on the mix of color, texture, and "ink" rather than a strict adherence to just ink. Maybe next year I'll roll with just a nib and a bottle of India ink!)

The goal is to push a melding of styles I've been working in over the past few years into something that really feels right. Oh - and I want to go the full month. You can see all of my 2017 illustrations here or you can root me along on Instagram.

Some New Work!

Sometimes as an illustrator and designer - I get overloaded on one side. I've been knee deep in design work for 2016 so far, which makes me miss illustration making like crazy. So I carved out a bit of time to play with some new brushes (thanks, Kyle).


Why I Gave Up Trying To Fool People with My Art

I work digitally. Like many illustrators and artists and animators, I transitioned to drawing directly on a tablet monitor (Wacom Cintiq) in an art making application (for me, Photoshop). There are many, many reasons for this, but in a nutshell I can work faster and achieve my artistic goals more efficiently. This is especially important when client deadlines and side projects (like this one) are colliding. None of this is new. I've been working this way for 7 years or so. What has changed is how I view the work I make digitally.

For much of my career, I've been whittling down a style and a way of working. I'm very much in love with texture and pattern (thanks, Mom!). I like naive shapes and lines (thanks Mr. Emberely and Mr. Carle). I like my drawings to be messy and have a real affinity for collage (no idea who to thank...). Some artists really love the perfect shapes and lines they can get on a computer, but I've always fought it in my own work.

 

An Example

Work in progress for Letter Set GO!

In Photoshop, I build shapes using the Freeform Pen Tool. It's a scraggily beast of a thing. It likes to leave "jaggies" (little unintended sharp triangles) randomly. When I'm closing a circular or oval shape it connects oddly, making it look kind of pointy. It used to drive me mad (and still does, sometimes). But it's a perfect illustration of a tool being a tool. 

When you use scissors to cut out a piece of an old magazine for collage, you sometimes get odd, unintended shapes. Or you over-cut. When you're painting you sometimes pick up a touch of cobalt blue when you were reaching for vermillion. When you're printmaking not every print is going to have the same ink coverage. You might have a spot that is fainter. We've learned to live and sometimes love these little mistakes.

 

The Point

I tweeted this the other day: 

I've come to the slow realization that fighting against a tools "mistakes' or trying to remove the tool from the work is not always in the illustrations best interests. Working without the perfection of "undo" has given the work some space for something greater to emerge.

I don't need to fool people into thinking what I'm making is perfectly made computer art or conversely - a traditionally rendered image. It's proudly made by hand on the computer.