Recently, I've been looking at The Fox is Black website and have compiled a sketchbook of work in hope of entering the re-covered competition for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Me being me, and struggling like a lemon, posted a few questions on the website and Paul Bartlett was considerate enough to guide me on the right path. (His submission is awesome by the way, how I think I stand a chance next to work like that I'll never know!)
As surprised as I was that somebody was so kind as to offer me some advice, and I was clearly inspired by his work, I decided to take a sneaky peek at his website. The quality of his work is obviously very high and this made me start thinking of the quality and finish on my work. Ok, he's been in the business now and had agency work for eight years, but still these things need to be put into perspective.
I made the decision to email him and congratulate him on his awesomeness (though coming from me means nothing really I guess) and to see if he would be available to take a look at some of my work for constructive feedback purposes. Again to my surprise, he replied - almost straight away too! His work does vary from mine; on his web presence 'about' section he describes himself as 'a freelance art director, designer, and illustrator with eight years of agency experience. I specialize in big ideas and thoughtful executions that make people take notice and feel something. If that sounds good to you, let's talk. I am able to work from my home studio or your place of business.' Not only does his work vary from mine, his confidence levels do too. And why not, he is a freelance artist in need of work like the rest of us.
Weighing this up, it shows that my confidence needs to rocket a few notches if I’m to make anything of this dog eat dog business. I think that this will happen by showcasing my work more though this is a catch 22 operation. I’m not confident enough to showcase my work, but it is only by showcasing my work and gaining some feedback (and hopefully some appraisals) will I be able to move forward and gain that confidence in the process. Additionally, the quality and finish of my work needs to be improved. Although I like the organic quality that some of my ‘rougher’ pieces offer, some of them need a good polish. For example there are a few pieces I have uploaded to my website which need a polish, ragged edges and patches which could use a rubber etc. But most importantly, I need to stop comparing my work and my working method to others. I’m finally starting to find my way of working, so I need to wear some blinkers for a while to stop me wanting to imitate others ways of working which I sometimes feel look more aesthetically pleasing compared to mine. Paul Bartlett’s work is fantastic, but he is clearly more of a photographer, whereas I am more of a collager and stitcher, the two are completely separate and I need to support my own work and my decisions.
All in all, a big thank you is owed to Paul for boosting my confidence in the world of illustration (is not in myself), it’s good to see that there is a support network there, especially for newbies like me who really do need it! And keep up the good work dude!
Copy of the email I received for the honourable Mr Bartlett:
To Chloe Jones
Thank you for reaching out and thank you for the compliments on my work.
I think it's a brave move to ask a stranger for advice. I'd be honored to take a look at your stuff.
Let me know where to find it, and I'll get back to you when I can.
Planning on updating my site with a "Book Covers" section soon. I also submitted entries to the Dracula and Romeo & Juliet contests, but I didn't do backs and spines for those yet... I think the Dracula one in particular freaks people out. :) But it SHOULD. Dracula is a scary dude.
Good luck with school.