I haven't cleaned my studio since I moved in with Reg in 2003. That's That's nearly 7 years. Every once in a while I would scoop up a superficial layer of artwork and store it, throw away some reference print-outs and some miscellaneous debris, but other than that, I haven't made much effort to change my ways. I have a huge drawing table (got it for a steal--100 bucks about 10 years ago from a guy I shared a house with), but have only really been using about a third of it in the last few years because it's been covered in art supplies and other stuff. So I finally decided to do something about it. It's taken the better part of a week, but I've finally gotten it cleaned and organized. You might notice that the keyboard is broken, dropped in the process, a small price to pay for a clean and organized studio. The process has been a kind of excavation, turning up old work and discovering just how bad I used to be.
Here's what it looks like now:
This is what it used to look like:
This is Probably Going to Sound Embarrassingly Earnest, but...
Right now, I'm not anything close to a full time freelancer. Until recently I felt like I had failed as a freelancer, and was very much on my way to giving up the idea that this would ever happen. But with the encouragement of Regina and a few friends and acquaintances, I've been inspired to redirect my energy towards this goal and am determined to be well on this path by the end of next year. The first thing I've done is tried to identify what my weaknesses are and address them. Organization has been one major setback, and so cleaning the studio was one more small step in the process of becoming more organized and better prepared.
Another problem is that for a variety of reasons, my work has been inaccessible to anyone but a very small audience. To broaden the appeal of my work I've redirected my focus towards children's markets and have slowly built up my portfolio with more kid friendly pieces and pieces based on classic children's lit. Apparently I had forgotten why I wanted to do this in the first place: before I went to art school or had any formal training my goal had always been to make illustrated books, both for children and adults. Since graduation I've meandered in a lot of different directions, and more recently have tried to do editorial work, something I never had much aptitude for and something I didn't even know existed before college.
Also, because of a lack of discipline and focus early on, I lacked a certain amount of technical skill. This is something that can fortunately be learned and practiced, so to this end I've started doing more life drawing, anatomy studies and applying myself to making more credible spaces with more accurate perspective. In the past I've tended to neglect backgrounds and focus mainly on figures and now I'm more focused on complete scenes and multi-figure tableaus. Color is also something I've been paying more attention to.
Tin Salmunic, Angelique Benicio and Frank Stockton
Aside from Regina who is my best friend and my greatest support, three people have stood out as inspirations: Tin Salmunic, Angelique Benicio and Frank Stockton. Tin said something that really hit home, "Don't decide what your limits are until you've pushed them." Tin has been nothing but encouraging and supportive and I am grateful to have come in contact with him even though we haven't yet had the opportunity to meet in person.
Angelique is a friend from college who I recently have gotten back into contact with. Angelique is a powerhouse, a single mom who has been determined to make her living from her skill as an artist since she moved back to the states from an 8 year stint in Paris and Brazil. Just a few months after moving here she's already achieved this by doing commissioned sculptures but like me is very much interested in getting into Children's illustration. We've both been encouraging and helping one another to make this happen.
Frank Stockton is another illustrator who has encouraged me both personally, and through his very inspirational blog. You can check his blog out here:
And check out Tin's blog here:
And Angelique's website is here: