Failure – Sometimes it’s better than success.

I wanted to talk a little bit about failure and why it is an important part of the learning process for an artist. Quite often my students worry about not always being able to try a new technique and get it right the first time. While I understand where they are coming from, it’s more true that we learn a lot more from our failures than our success. If you get it right the first time, you really haven’t learned much. I loved this quote from the end of “Meet the Robinsons”

Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths – Walt Disney.

It’s really a true statement. And the movie itself reinforces the notion that failure is ok. I know I haven’t talked about working on my masters much, but there were a lot of projects that I didn’t quite get and I ended up really frustrated. This was especially true anytime we had to work on an editorial illustration. My super cutesy style doesn’t lend itself well to magazine illustration, but I tried my hardest to make it work.

During my final semester, we were assigned a three part editorial illustration with a full-page, half-page and spot illustration for an article about corporate greed. I had a serious mind blank about what to do and my thumbnails showed that. My first set were terrible.

As you can see, so bad. I took a step back and did a bit of research into editorial illustration and things I really liked. I found these two illustrations that gave me a bit of inspiration. From there and taking my instructors feedback about not using so many heavy outlines, I decided I’d like to try a sort of cut paper style. A bit of googleing later and I found a fabulous tutorial on making cut paper in Photoshop. With that in hand and a new idea I went back to the drawing board. Literally.

New editorial illustration technique I tried for a project.

New editorial illustration technique I tried for a project.

My instructor still wasn’t a fan. I’m a bit frustrated about that, because I thought I actually had not only a decent idea, but a technique that was all the things she didn’t like about my previous project. I’m not going to go too much into that, but the reason I bring up this whole story is I totally failed at this project as far as I’m concerned. (I got a passing grade, not the grade I wanted.) But having failed I learned a lot more than if I’d just nailed it from the first thumbnail. The technique I learned while working on this project is the one I’m currently using in my work and I really love how my finished pieces look. Don’t be afraid to fail.

New cut paper technique in Photoshop

New cut paper technique in Photoshop

Kal Model Sheet


Nothing exciting to share this week. I’ve been working on a few model sheets, which are mostly just for me. The front and back were drawn separately, so they don’t line up. Anyway, she’s one of the characters in the little Halloween story I’m trying to finish.

I’ve actually gotten a handful of these done so far and I’m almost through with the main cast.These are mostly to show hair styles, clothing and coloring, so I made them almost the same way you’d make a doll. It ended up working out pretty good for me. I’m not sure if I’m going to share the others or not, but I’m happy with them so far.