This week I took Giuseppe Castellano's Business of Illustration seminar that he offers through his Illustration Department website. It left me with a lot to think about, mostly "who am I as an illustrator." I think I've been asking myself the wrong questions lately: "how do I get noticed?" and "how do I get work?" when I should be asking "how do I differentiate myself as an illustrator?" I realized that my work, while reasonably proficient, isn't terribly special and doesn't really set me apart in any way.
After the class, I went on a book buying binge (picture books and collections of illustrations by illustrators from the "golden age") and signed up for Noah Bradley's Art Camp 1. I'd been on the fence about Art Camp for a long time, but I decided the structure and focus on fundamentals will be good for me.
One of the books I bought was The Complete Adventures of Peter Rabbit. One of the things that Giuseppe talked about was that books and art for children don't have to be cute and happy, and he reminded us that The Tale of Peter Rabbit was not all sweetness and light: in the third paragraph, Peter's mother matter-of-factly reminds the children not to go into Mr. McGregor's garden because their father "had an accident there; he was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor." (Accident my foot!) When I reread it, I remembered just how scary it was to me as a child knowing that Peter would end up as DINNER if he was caught.
All of this has led me back to my Butterfly Girl picture book; I had set it aside thinking it was a bit bleak to be a picture book, but I now realize that it's probably the strongest book idea I've had, the one that I feel the most passionate about, and likely my best opportunity to show who I am as an illustrator.
My goal for the coming week is to finish the first week's assignments for Art Camp, as well as work on the storyboard for Butterfly girl. Here are a few of the master studies I've done so far (don't laugh):