Make mistakes

John Lennon poster 1 — digital illustration, 2011
John Lennon poster 1 — digital illustration, 2011
John Lennon poster 2 — digital illustration, 2011
John Lennon poster 2 — digital illustration, 2011

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” Scott Adams

The first image was created by following a tutorial on Tuts+ (the design is based on street artist Shepard Fairey’s Obama campaign posters). The second image was a mistake* I made when messing around with layers in Illustrator.

*Visit this post if you would like to know what I really think about mistakes.

Unexpected outcomes, part two

Toy museum – ink sketch and final image.
Toy museum – ink sketch and final image.

An unexpected outcome doesn’t always add magic to an image. Serendipity is a wonderful thing but, unfortunately, not all accidents are pleasant surprises.

Toy museum is a good example. It’s an ink sketch that I scanned and coloured digitally. While I was drawing it, I realised it would have to be reworked ― a stray line here, an unfortunate expression there ― but rather than starting again (something my tutors at design school would have insisted on), I kept calm, carried on and decided that I would correct modify those bits later. It’s not cheating; it’s a kind of mixed media that includes digital tools : )

If you compare the sketch with the final image, quite a few things haven’t changed at all, but I had trouble with some of the faces and so I edited them in Photoshop. I tweaked a few other things as well but not too much — I didn’t want to take away the personality of the drawing.

Ironically, knowing that I CAN change something later means that I tend to relax and enjoy my art more and then, more often than not, I DON’T NEED TO change anything. And I like it when that happens too.

Unexpected outcomes, part one

sketch ink drawing stamp
Penguins — sketches and final image

Some people call them mistakes. I like to call them unexpected outcomes.

It can be very frustrating when a drawing doesn’t turn out as planned. Why can’t I draw a straight line? Why isn’t the perspective right? The figures are flat. The colours are wrong. The ink has dripped onto the paper and now the sky is frowning.

Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this kind of creative struggle. Quite the opposite. I believe that unexpected outcomes are an essential part of the creative process. They’re an indication that we’re exploring possibilities, stretching ourselves and continuing to grow as artists.

You start with a blank piece of paper. You draw. After ten minutes (or an hour or a day), you’ve created something that NOBODY ELSE IN THE WORLD has created. Something new exists because of you. Okay, so it’s not what you imagined it would be and maybe you’re a bit disappointed. But sometimes, sometimes it takes your breath away. I did that? How did I do that? I wonder if I could do that again?

Sometimes the very thing that we didn’t intend is where the magic happens.