30 Days of Illustration
It all started with a Youtube video and ended with 1000 new Instagram followers. Here’s the story behind my 30 days of Illustration.
I was trying to decide between purchasing a new drawing tablet and an iPad Pro. I knew that I was interested in working on more digital art and totally hated the process of scanning and color correcting my illustrations in Photoshop or Illustrator. But I was having a lot of trouble deciding which direction to go. After months of lazy research I finally discovered this Youtube video from Brad Colbow. What’s funny is that he’s not even totally in love with the device, but hearing him say that this product is for artists was the turning point. For so many years I’ve seen myself as only a graphic designer and I loved the idea of reclaiming the title “artist.”
$800 later and I was the proud owner of an iPad Pro. It was love at first sight and I genuinely enjoyed how intuitive the device was. I quickly mastered the brushes available on ProCreate, but decided I needed a challenge to start the habit of daily illustration.
30 days. 30 original illustrations.
I would post my art to Instagram every single day with a short caption on what inspired the piece or some philosophical thought that piqued my interest at the time. While this was a clear goal with a hard deadline, I didn’t expect anything beyond challenging myself to become a better artist. I also wanted to remind myself how important daily practice was to becoming better at something.
The results, however, were much bigger than that.
Over the course of 34 days (I dropped the ball a few times), I increased my follower count by nearly 1000 people. Partially due to a new hashtag strategy, a few regrams from other Instagram accounts, and a feature in a listicle of 35 Inspiring Designers to Follow on Instagram. (Note: Thank you Will Fanguy. I have no idea how you stumbled across my feed.)
The biggest reward, though, was that I set and achieved a goal that was challenging for me. The daily grind of a full-time job can crush creative ambition, but I made a point to show up for myself through this 30 day period. Often times, I would start a variety of pieces on Saturday and Sunday, so I only had to finish pieces during the week. There are also some pieces, that just didn’t turn out the way that I expected. But having the daily deadline forced me to hush the inner critic and keep creating new illustrations.
Overall, I’m proud of the process. I’m also very proud of the work I created. The challenge helped me hone in on my visual style and offered me the opportunity to explore inspiration sources that stretched my skill set.
So without further ado, here are the 30 illustrations with brief descriptions. Click the images to see a bigger version.
Searching for All The Dreamers
This piece was an exploration of charcoal, my favorite medium in high school, but applied to a more cartoony illustration.
2017 was one of the first year’s that I tested out a variety of new fitness routines. This illustration was inspired by a hectic day and the calming effects of a yoga class.
Drawing inanimate objects is not one of my favorites, but this illustration is near and dear to my heart. In early 2017 I purchased a plant, that I named Edgar. He is the first plant that I’ve been able to keep alive for an extended period of time.
The Good News
Some days are easier than other days. When I drew this illustration, I was in a pretty bad mood after being stood up for a much-needed conversation. Hidden in that annoying experience was a blessing. I found some internal closure and learned that you can’t rely on someone else to make you feel good about a situation–that comes from within.
This, by far, is one of my favorite pieces in the series. I wanted to continue the usage of charcoal medium on the cartoon self portrait. There’s a certain sense of melancholy that I love about this piece.
One of my guilty pleasure TV shows is “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.” While watching the show one Sunday, I created this piece. I love the judgment in her eyes and the ice cold background.
Ice Cold Squiggly
While creating “No Tea,” I started working on a pattern to put in the backdrop of the illustration. The end result was too complex and competed with the simple figure, so I made it it’s own piece. The meditative practice of drawing patterns is one of the best gifts of my art practice.
I like to think of myself as an introverted extrovert. I love being around people, but need recovery time to feel truly balanced. The problem, though is that if I have too much alone time, I start to go to deep in the rabbit holes in my mind. This is good for my art, but not so great for my well-being. I wanted to visually explore that feeling in this picture.
Lisa Congdon is one of my greatest creative influences in this 30 day challenge. This piece was inspired by her book The Joy of Swimming. It was important in this challenge to explore new angles and non-traditional framing of my illustrations.
Drawing animals is absolutely a challenge for me, but over the course of the past year, I’ve seen significant growth. This tiger represents months of practice and I’m very pleased with the end result.
Drawing faces is one of my favorite ways to practice illustration. I enjoy that every individual can have their own specific identity with slight different placement of the facial features.
During the holiday season this piece came to me. When I posted it on Instagram, followers let me know at least subliminally, this piece was inspired by Hanukkah.
The original version of this illustration referenced a photo from the opening sequence of The “Mary Tyler Moore Show.” While the vintage outfit remains, I wanted to give the piece a slight twist by adding the afro puffs. I genuinely love this color palette and want to continue exploring more pieces in a similar style.
Hand lettering is still kind of intimidating. But I wanted to challenge myself on a variety of pieces to create beautiful typography that still felt like it came from me. This message was written as a reminder to myself to keep striving to make a greater impact in the world, even when its a little scary.
This piece was inspired by a noire focused episode of “The Flash.” I tend to draw a lot of women, so I challenged myself to add a few men in the mix. They often times serve as self portraits.
Not So Angry Bird
A few of my IRL friends commented on their love of animals I drew. While I personally gravitate towards humans and faces it was exciting learning to draw things that were outside my comfort zone. This bird toes the line between being a cartoon and slightly more representational.
One of the greatest gifts of 2016 was connecting with a group of black artists. Three women: Megan Coates, Whitney Mitchell, and Mariana Shepard are my biggest creative influences. They have driven me to make better work and be a more thoughtful creative. This piece pays homage to our friendship.
One thing I noticed through the challenge is that I hate drawing full scenes. This piece, while not my favorite, is an attempt to add a little more implied story with a woman sitting in the park.
This is another pattern illustration. In this one, I wanted to play with the oblong circle and add some texture.