For the most part, I have shared every single piece of artwork I have created since I launched this blog in March. Whether it’s the silly little doodles I make for my life posts, the fan art I create to complement books, tv shows, and movies discussions in my stories posts, or the random illustrations I feature in my art posts – it’s pretty much all there and, generally speaking, I love and am proud of it all. That being said, every artist – whether illustrator or poet or author or photographer – has moments where the work they create causes great cringe and there has been one set of illustrations I have hid from you all since I launched this blog because… yikes.
You see, when my blog launched in March, I got really excited about creating and sort of became obsessed with the desire to doodle all the time. I almost want to say in a way it became more about creating a certain quantity of illustrations for me rather than a certain quality because I knew my work would never be as good as anyone else’s and I just wanted to have a lot of it done so that I would never run out of things to share here.
And that’s fine! This is my blog and I can do what I want. But the same thing happened as I mentioned in my thoughts on participating in an Instagram challenge: I realized I don’t want to create just for the sake of creating. My enjoyment wavers and the end results can sometimes be a bit scary when that happens.
So today, in the sake of transparency and to assure any creatives out there that they are not alone in their bad days, I thought I would share a collection of illustrations that I originally refused to post on the blog because I disliked them so much.
Behold my cringe (Sports Illustrated 2017 Swimsuit edition)!
Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to say these illustrations are the worst thing in the world. The potential for these to turn out great was definitely there (I especially like the Aly Raisman one), I just sort of got lost in the process.
For one thing, most of these heads are massive. I mentioned it in my Youtube video in which I talk about my current art process, but I seem to always lean towards making a massive head and tiny body on my illustrations to hide the fact that I’m not great with anatomy. And while not all of these are totally disproportionate, there are some (like Ashley Graham’s profile), where it looks like I was attempting to illustrate bobbleheads instead of actual people. Whoops.
On top of that, the colors are out of control. Since I have been mostly limited to my small collection of gel pens up to this point, I sort of felt like everything was a bit boring. While I originally created these images with just black outlines and thought I’d leave it like that (which would’ve been the right choice), I ended up trying to make the images pop more by adding color to the swimsuits… and to the eyes… and to the lips.
While pops of color are fun and I really like how I incorporate them in some my art (such as my doodletimewithkaroline images), it just seems so obvious to me that I had no direction for where I was going with the colors in these illustration. It was like once I added one color, I felt like I needed to try and add eight more to balance it out and it ultimately just lead to these scary looking demon girls who seem like they want to suck the soul from your body. (Or is it just me that sees that?)
But you know what? As much as these illustrations may make me cringe, they’re a part of my journey and I can’t help but embrace them now. It would’ve been very easy for me to rip these out of my sketchbook or to refuse to acknowledge that I ever created them, but I feel like that would be doing myself a disservice. Instead, I keep these illustrations to remind myself these things:
- Bad days aren’t permanent. There will be times you take a wrong turn on your creative journey, where suddenly all you seem to create is crap and things just go terribly wrong. Don’t fret. Sometimes the only way to figure out the right and wrong in your work is by exploring both ends. Accept that this piece didn’t work out, take time to figure out why you love it and/or hate it, and keep going.
- Sometimes less is more. Don’t add to a piece just for the sake of adding. If you like it how it is, then leave it. You are not obligated to keep adding more color, words, filters, etc. to make it fit some imagined standard or expectation. Minimalism is a thing now. Feel free to embrace it.
- Planning isn’t a sign of weakness. Give yourself permission to make multiple drafts, to plan things out, to explore different coloring and layout options, etc. A masterpiece is rarely created in one go and while it may seem like more work, it will help you feel more confident in your finished piece.
- You can always try again. If you create something that you think has potential but ultimately fell apart, don’t feel like it’s absolutely hopeless. You can always do it again. Take a little break first to shake off the frustrations you’re having with it and come back to it later. You may find you just weren’t ready for it yet.
And that last one? I think that will likely happen with me. I actually love the juxtaposition between these sexy swimsuit models and my silly cartoon illustrations. I want to try combining the two once again, and hopefully next time I’ll do them a bit more justice. Until then though, when I think of sexy swimsuit illustrations, I’ll think of this cringey attempts I did a couple of months ago – and that’s alright. All creatives have their times of struggle, this was just one of mine.
Okay, your turn! Tell me fellow creatives, how do you feel when your work comes out a cringey mess? Do you give up on it? Throw it away? Keep it as a reminder? Redo it over and over again until it’s right? Let me know in the comments below!