illustrator's life
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“50 images is still on the low side”

Week – March 30 – April 5 aka story of failure and success.

I mentioned once or twice that I’ve never been any good at math (maybe more, but as I just said…;)) so that shouldn’t be a big surprise that I did so many miscalculations this week. Seriously though, I got slightly too optimistic and ended this week frustrated over the outcome.
Not that I did little – oh no! quite the opposite in fact.

What I had done this week.

Commissioned work wise I finished everything I could for project B (awaiting some direction for one remaining part) and I’ve just sent color preview to client A – yes, at Easter Sunday evening – that’s Monday morning for them, as it’s Seoul based company, I’m not sure if they care for this holiday (Internet says that not really). I do not, so I didn’t mind working today.
That was a lot of work itself.

*update – while I was writing this post, feedback for project A came -wow I love them so so much. I kid you not they are the best of the bests in term of communication and work organization – I’m spoiled forever, this is NOT work that way with most of clients in this biz.

Second important thing I’ve done was preparing portfolio and sending over to my shiny new agent. That was not easy to say the least. First I got message from this post’s title “A good folio has minimum of 30 images, 50 images is still on the low side”

First of all this contradict everything I heard so far and second – aaaaa! I don’t even have 15 pieces good enough…
Ok- I draw like crazy nearly everyday, so why I have problem with picking out some example of my work?
(Story time alert) About 1,5 year ago I ditched traditional media for digital painting. I was learning how to draw and paint on paper(and other surfaces too, point is – traditional way, no digital) for many years, including all those realistic still natures and naked old ladies in high school, when I was preparing for art college’s exams (which I never got into as I was rejected at very first stage of portfolios reviews 3 times, eventually I ended with master degree in history of art and thought about working in museum in some moments of doubts, but that’s another story). After years of working on style I was quite happy with my body of work, I had about 15 books published – over I was doing fine.

one of the last illustration I did on paper

One of the last illustrations I did on paper.

For digital painting from the other hand I had very little interest for many years and just try some small things from time to time. Suddenly I made a leap of faith and colored one of illustrations for client A (yes the same one I’m still working for 1,5 year later) in Photoshop even though first story I did was acrylic on paper, and my portfolio at this time was 100% traditional media. They said – “love it” and that was it! I started working in PS ONLY. That was right before our second ‘6 months’ in SE Asia and I took my box of paints, brushes and supplies of paper because yes – traveling + working with traditional media – totally doable. Here’s some proof:

yours truly on koh Phangan, Thailand 2013.

Yours truly on Koh Phangan, Thailand 2013.

Did I use my paints etc. on second trip? Not once! Actually I didn’t taught anything “normal”, besides pencil for sketches, ever since. Why? Because simply I didn’t have the time. It turned out that work for client A is a long term and really ongoing and schedule was thigh sometimes. This + fact that it required layers made me stick to PS. Sure it’s possible to make layered illustration with any medium but digitally is just faster. After some months I realized that I like working like this a lot and I’m getting better and better quite rapidly. Right now my digital painting skills are still improving all the time and there’s a big(huge I’d say) difference between newest illos and those from e.g 4 months ago. So, I can’t show “old” ones in portfolio and those I’m working now are not to be shown before they are published (yeah, and when they will, this will be after few months of drawing many hours a day so I most probably will say “oh no how terrible those are” – that’s a never ending story). Beside my skills – most projects I’m working on are for learning English on basic level, thus illustrations are pretty straight forward in composition, subject matter etc. As much I have fun working on those stories, I’m dreaming about something more magical or crazier.
Ufff, so, that’s my problem with portfolio and main reason why I started this blog.
For my portfolio re-building I did this illustration with main color dictated by #colour_collective

princess-and-cat-on-scooter-illustration-3That was supposed to be spot illustration, I’d say that’s a tad more but not like a full scene, something in between…Speaking of full scene – I count this as a 2/3 failure. I drawn this sketch which is quite ok (I’m planning small changes) .witches-sketch
Yeah, that’s fun one and I couldn’t wait to start coloring. Yet, I haven’t even started :/ Not cool. minus 300points ;(

From things I didn’t exactly planned, I put together some of my old notes(I write some sentence now or then and never do anything with those) and published post about Print on demand which turned out to be very popular and made me feel like I did something for others (good feeling) without writing a check(ha-ha! I’ve never done that, we don’t use checks in Europe, but that sounds so cool so I couldn’t resist – maybe I’m more tired than I thought?:)

+ I’ve answer 10000 emails and other messages.

Ok, fun, fun, fun, but it leads to:

What I haven’t done

I barely started sketches for project A (this is ongoing one, one story after another)
For project C, I’ve done veeery little, which I feel guilty about, even though I maybe have some excuse, but I’m not excuse type of girl, I’m not. Sometimes I wish I was, because there’s more to come in “not done” list and I just can’t tell myself: “oh, relax gorgeous, you had other things going on”.
Basically I kind of done what was really needed for commissioned work, but not much more. Zero work on POD (ok, I did some cosmetic changes while writing post but this showed me how much is to be done there, arrrrr), only one sketch for portfolio, and quite frankly, not that much (turbo understatement) of free time as well so…

What went wrong? and what went well?

Designated 2 hours for sketching between one urgent task and daily portion on “regular work” – previous task took me longer than expected, but it was important to finish this first. I got nervous that there’s so little time left. Although, still try to jump on this creative task right away and eventually totally failed.
Next day I decided to try new approaches – I schedule sketching time after proper breakfast for kind of unlimited time, knowing that I will not be drawing forever. This worked perfectly! I complete sketch for portfolio piece and get back to commissioned work.

Announcing publicly, one hour I was planning to spend on social media was one of my best ideas – not that anyone really cares how I waist my time 😉 but it kind got into my head and yes I had few moments of weakness but generally I feel like I nailed it 😀 Shame though, that I wrote only about Monday and other days. Generally SM are my Achilles feet – I can’t just quit them for few reasonable reasons 😉 (I think that’s a topic for a post itself) but it takes so much of my time – I need need need find a smart way to handle this (yup, definitely post about social media is coming).

At the end, I’m not sure if I planned to much or just wasn’t efficient enough? Combination of both maybe ?

Plan for this week? Find some time management hacks that work for me and draw, draw, draw details next time.

and one more illustration painted with acrylic on paper

…and one more illustration painted with acrylic on paper.


  1. So interesting. I am so not excited by digital painting as it scares me as I have so little knowledge. Guess I should be the leap? Also trying to get portfolio together. Keep up great work, v. Useful

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ryan – your link to carbonmade is broken and I’d love to see your work!
      Digital painting is super fun but yes!!! kind of scary if you feel you have a control over pencil and tablet just doesn’t “obey” same way…Anyway my little advise for the begging is just open Photoshop document and try one brush after another to see what this beast can do 🙂 maybe drawing small things like fruits etc.


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