It’s easy to finish studying and assume we are now ready to just do what we’ve being ‘practicing’ for the last few years, but the teachings of your College and University are for a reason, consider it methodology for a good working practice. Sure, we all felt annoyed early on when we had to redo the same thing over and over until it was good, or spend hours researching things just for the sake of an assignment or a project. But just because we graduated, it doesn’t mean we should stop learning or working in the way we’d done before.
The value of this is in the process itself, it’s easy to rely on the knowledge you already have and get by, maybe even improve a lot, but for some people like me, you loose the structure behind your ideas, the strong concepts inspired by the art you were researching/writing about, the discussion and the community that goes with a studying environment.
I’ve been in and out of being an illustrator since leaving University, creating things I’ve loved, and thing’s I’m not too proud of. I’ve developed a style that can be great, and can also be hindered by a short turnover that tends to be required in most circumstances. I’ve decided whilst I intend to take a part time job, that I’m going back to paper for the most part, to re-learn to draw fluidly. I’ve focused far too much on the style I was moving towards, than spending time developing the ideas, the reasoning behind them, the quality and method and actually letting my art form naturally. In a way though, the way I’ve being working has created a more complex, fine-art illustration in these Landscapes I’ve started doing, that can’t simply be rushed. Inspired by watching traditional art documentaries like Landscape/Portrait Artist of the Year, Lily Cole’s Art Matters, Ballet like Alice’s Adventure’s in Wonderland or Cirque du Soleili, Photography programmes like; Capture with Mark Seliger and Finding Vivian Mayer.
These show’s have reopened the learning mindset that I’d not really thought about since University, I now own a journal that I use for everything, something I didn’t even do when I was at University but is necessary in fine Art – of which I’ve jotted down fine art ideas, through circumstance of wanting to go down a certain route with my Art when I was at college, I pushed aside Fine art and went for illustration, i abandoned printmaking for a complete digital approach. But either way, it was the experience that mattered, despite having such a strong connection with Fine Art, I probably wasn’t a Fine Artist. And despite learning illustration, perhaps I’m not just an ‘illustrator’ either. I spent a lot of time visiting websites of other people who consider themselves illustrators, many of which had ‘Fine Art’ section where they expressed themselves without an obvious narrative. These artists, through study or natural means are not choosing to be defined by a single craft, often having blogs about practicing, or upcoming exhibitions. I’ve never really seen many ‘illustration’ exhibitions, and I don’t think they’re common. The same with illustration books, there aren’t many good, annually printed books focusing on illustration and visual communication, but I can find a new photography book or fine art book each week. The only good illustrated books that are regular are usually Children’s Book’s or comic/graphic novels, which almost feels like the only real (or at least most visually obvious) industry to aim towards, and I’m not sure if that’s what I want. (Maybe when I get around to doing the ones I’d had planned, I may think differently)
There are no real rules to art, but there is a structure to it – and there’s nothing wrong with revisiting what we left behind to enjoy learning again. Don’t think what i’m saying is negative, but more of a reason to consider something you loved and left behind for the pursuit of ‘success’.