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Chasing an Idea
From Strangers to Best Friends
Each month members of the IlloGuild answer a question together and our 9th question is:
What is your illustration process?
This is the process my brain takes when making illustrations…
An illustration idea is born from no where and every where. Maybe it was presented to you by work, during your commute, from a friend, a prompt from social media, something that stood out to you while doodling, or randomly through the darkness in the middle of the night…you heard it. Ideas are generated everywhere and they ARE a bit WILD. They don’t have a home yet. They’re like a lost little puppy you chase so it doesn’t get away!
Ways I chase an idea:
• I scribble it down.
• I draw the messiest of sketches on a napkin.
• I let it take up pages in my sketchbook.
• I might invite it onto my ipad.
• I write a few descriptive words down on my phone.
• I use the corner of a bill I’m paying so this little idea doesn’t get away.
• At the very least, I tell a friend about it like a dream in hopes I’ll remember it.
Here is an example of chasing an idea:
Folktale Week 2022 I innocently read the prompt list:
FOOL • TREE • STAR • REBEL • COSTUME • POTION • VICTORY
Well, that sounds fun. I didn’t mean to get caught up in the daydreaming. Yet, images immediately came to my mind and they where running around all excited. When inspiration comes to me like lightening, I really have no choice but to catch it right then and there!
Capturing an idea can be messy and loose. I’m basically scribbling basic shapes and layout. Maybe it only makes sense to me, but it exists in the world now! Even if I don’t have time right away, I can come back to it later. I liked my Folktale Week ideas so much I committed to illustrating them. Friday Doodle Club happened to have a coinciding prompt so I jumped in head first with a pattern:
Well, there was no turning back now. I needed to catch these ideas fast!
So, you have this idea, but you need to get to know it a little bit. If not, it might just run away again or worse it kinda barks at you until you listen. You might never become really good friends like you’d like to. It’s very very important you are nice to your little baby idea.
Ways I’m nice to my ideas:
• First, I give it space by just letting it run around in my mind.
• I let it run wild as long as it wants to, so I can see all the possibilities. This might require more room – which means more messy sketches.
• Research is important because you need to know the ins and outs of this particular idea. Maybe I need to find out what to feed it. Maybe I need some grooming pointers and some sample images to feel more comfortable with how to draw it.
• I sketch more, erase more, I keep working at it until finally I feel like we’re actually becoming friends.
I think it’s important to point out what your ideas might not like:
• being ignored.
• being yelled at.
• being forced in a certain direction.
• being groomed with the wrong tools.
• being fed with the wrong food.
Oh, and one last thing…ideas smell fear. I think.
Here is an example of being nice to an idea:
I came back to my folktale scribbles. I let my idea tell me a story. It was kinda a strange story, but I depicted it any way. I looked up some images to get familiar with this new story. What do gnomes look like? Are jackalopes real? Before I knew it, we were walking together. Were were talking and laughing.
Now my images where a bit clearer.
Now I felt really comfortable with my idea and I think my idea was happy with me.
If you’ve taken the time to befriend your idea, then you know how exciting it can be! You get to play together and share life together. However, being best friends with an idea isn’t always rainbows and sunshine.
Here are some things you might experience:
• It might make a mess.
• It might make a lot of noise.
• It might not look so pretty at first.
• It might need lots of work before it listens to you.
• You might need advice from others.
• Your idea might accidentally run away for while and you have to catch it all over again.
• OR it might nag at you for hours, until you take time to listen to it.
Here’s the thing, your idea will love you forever if you appreciate it for what it is. If you take the time see it fully through, from baby to fully grown, you’ll see all the ups and downs and you’ll love it even more for sticking with you.
Things you might catch yourself doing:
• Thinking of your idea when you’re supposed to be doing something else.
• Snuggling with your idea in front of the television.
• Going to an “idea friendly” coffee shop to work.
• Meeting others who have similar ideas (this is one of my favorite results of illustration).
• You might actually become famous for befriended your little idea.
Here are a few of those final Images from Folktale Week 2022 with my sketches in the corner as examples:
FOOL • REBEL • POTION
Have fun chasing your ideas!!
Each month members of the IlloGuild, an international group of illustrators, answer a question together. Head over to IlloGuild page to read the other responses.
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