Hello dear reader. I hope you are now doing well on the other side of your screen. I want to show today a peek at my process while looking for a more defined portfolio. I came to realize that most successful illustrators have narrowed down their style and technique to a very defined and recognizable state both with the intention to stand out from the crowd and by a process of natural selection and refinement of their work.
The goal of a portfolio is to address a particular client or community using a visual language developed specifically for them in order for them to clearly and quickly make their mind about a possible compatibility between you and their project or philosophy or vision.
The way I want to work on that problem and try to speed up this process is by working on a series of sketchbooks each dedicated to one specific audience, and by addressing the same topics throughout to see what difference comes out when I want to visually say the same thing to different groups.
So I picked six different audiences which are: young children (2 to 7 years old), children (8 to 12), young adults (12 to 18), adults (18+), editorial (work for magazines and newspapers) and educational (work for all ages, user manuals, schooling books, etc).
There are other varieties of audiences out there, such as street murals and publicity and all kinds of sub-groups in each category, but in general these are the ones I would be interested to work for.
I picked as well twenty-three different topics such as space, time, liberty, nature/culture, senses or seasons amongst others.
The way I organised myself is simple: spend three days with one audience, sketching for it one topic a day. Meaning two audiences per week, three weeks to cover three topics for all audiences. I scheduled this research to end by the beginning of August this year.
The goal is to let my imagination run freely but within precise constraints, let the research unfold itself, observe what themes I am most in phase with, and which audiences I am most comfortable to address myself to. I want to know better to whom I am best made to communicate with and how.
Hopefully by the end of this process I will be able to show work with better communication and transferability (or empathy) designed into it.
This is an ambitious program and like everything it is not exactly going as planned. Well in fact it is, for I managed quite well so far to stick to my schedule. But the difficulties encountered where not as much expected. Let me show you now a few examples of what I have done. I will then end the article by letting you know what I find most difficult with this research.
Keep in mind that everything you are about to see is early morning sketching, first roughs and raw ideas. This isn't a super personal, gutty work, but this is pure backstage reveal. So be ready for crappy stuff and inconsistencies in design. I have decided to show you today the research down on the topic of mass.
Let's start with the young children sketches.
Now let's look at the sketches done for children.
I know I can be a little more logical and present more precise things to this age group. This is Mr Vroom, a character that is beginning to follow me now for a while and of which I have made a few drawings. With this one, I think children can get a good sense of the interaction of masses. It is rather playful and also communicates a clear sense of what is at play with the concept.
And now the sketches for the young adults group.
The young adult group is a challenging one for me. I think teenagers include a huge amount of sub-groups with different interests and already strong senses of aesthetic. The whole comics style is out of my reach as well as the realistic one. So honestly I don't really know how to approach this group but through humour and symbolism. This two sketches are nevertheless successful in their own way. They depict a good sense of the concept through representation of elevation, descent, fall and suspension, which are all various states of mass and it's interaction with gravity.
Here the sketches made with the adult audience in mind:
I know with the adults age group I can be more indirect in my approach. Here I treat the topic of mass media. Although these drawings are boring to me, I remember being not very inspired this morning, they show the potential behind the use of metaphor.
Now the sketches for editorial illustration.
Not a super inspired day either but what a hell. Editorial illustration is something of a riddle to me, still. Its treatment depends very much on the topic and for what kind of magazine it is for. There is no definitive style to look for but rather some kind of corky way to represent concepts so meaning strikes like a bolt and the image fulfills a complementary and balancing role to the text being illustrated. This is anyway an area where I wish I will find a niche in and in which I shall create many opportunities for myself I hope.
Here I treat the subject in a relatively abstract manner, with the intention to show speed and lightness of execution with economy of means.
And finally illustration for educational purposes:
This also a tricky area for me. Educational requires much economy in style, a strong understanding of the concept being depicted, and a very didactic, designy way of showing elements. One needs to be able to synthesis factors such as movement, series of actions, causes and consequences, and all sorts of abstract as well well as practical concepts, in a way that is visually playful, attractive, clear and non-confusing.
I don't think I quite made it with this sketch or any other I made so far for educational illustration. Not sure that's my cup of tea anyway. But no rush, four months more to go and research.
Here you go. I hope you found this article useful in some way. The biggest difficulty I have with this research is the swapping of styles and representational tools to adapt to each specific audience while keeping my identity, which I have to say is a little confusing to me at the moment. I am, anyway, happy to see this process unfolding as it shows me, as intended, my limits and my strengths and also keeps me engaged with a playful everyday routine. I have treated so far twelve topics and I am midway through my research.
I can't wait to read your comments. Please feel free to let us all know what this article triggers in you. Maybe you are embarked on some kind of long term research of your own, please share. I would love to read about it and start a conversation.
That's it for today's Trail of colour blog post. Wishing you a great week ahead and a multitude of happy little moments with those you love and with what you enjoy doing most.
This is Adrien, signing off. Peace and Regeneration to you all. See you next week.
Hello blog addict. I hope you are in great shape and condition, and that life is treating you as best as you can endure. Here, the capricious Irish spring makes its show of temperamental moods, as usual.
I have been busy lately, working on the release of four custom notebooks to be available on Red Bubble. Red Bubble is an online shop where artists can upload their designs on multiple products. I have ordered the journals for myself and I am very happy with how they came out. The books come in three versions, with lined, square or blank pages. The format is compact, smaller than a typical A3, quality print hardcover and 128 pages. The paper is smooth and only 90gsm, so no heavy watercolour painting on these. They are perfect for quick and discrete note taking, travel sketching or dream recollection.
This cover is from a watercolor painting I did some years ago. It is based on a photograph of Greenfields, the place where I used to live a few years back. Watercolor painting is a very subtle thing and a great medium to capture the essence of a moment. This one shows the sunset fading in the distance below another one of these temperamental Irish skies. My new logo can be seen on the back cover.
This double page cover is a composition made of a few of the figures I am putting together for a future book about madness, sanity, self-acceptance and tolerance. Titled Be yourself and of a mood completely different than the previous notebook: I hope this one inspires truthful thought and confident writing.
This image is titled Maria. It symbolizes the miraculous pregnancy one suffers after the touch of inspiration. An image made "by accident" which, I hope, inspires you greater clarity of mind and sharpness of aspiration. May the dreams you write in this book come true!
This image, titled Life goes on, was drawn collectively with my father, in a train headed to Paris, after the funeral of my grandfather. I colored it at home, in Ireland. I called it Life goes on. It is a parable of the cycle of the living and the dead, our purpose in life as well as in death. I hope this notebook inspires you more love for yourself and your family, and, as well, a strong sense of connection with the bigger picture.
You can go to the website shop, and click on the links provided to get to my profile on Redbubble and purchase them from there. I hope you will enjoy these notebooks as much as I enjoyed making them.
With Rebibble I can now print these designs on a multitude of products, from pillow to computer sleeves, mugs and what not. If anyone of you has a request for a particular product available on Redbubble, just let know and will make it available.
My next goal is now to put together a nice Patreon page and profile so anyone who wants to support my projects directly can do so. I will keep you updated on that soon of course.
Hoping to see you next week for another episode of Trail of colour, this is Adrien, signing off. Peace.
Hello there! Dear reader I hope you are doing well. What are you doing those days? Who are you? What is the project that carries you from day to day? How is your creativity doing? I would be delighted to hear your answers in the comment section. A good chat is always appreciated.
Between preparing for the launch of my Patreon page, working on the release on Red Bubble of four custom notebooks, keeping up with the reshaping of my portfolio and trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle (later not always successfully), I have got to stretch myself up and get in the productive groove.
Today I want to show you the steps I took to make this image which is going to be part of these four upcoming custom notebooks.
My initial motivation was to get rid of a nervous feeling that built up from the frustration of not being able to deal with a certain study of Enki Bilal I was doing at the time. After destroying my failed attempt at reproducing one of Bilal's painting I decided to react and do it "my own way" and "no matter what comes up!". My plan then, was do explore Bilal's technique in a more personal way and experiment with the layering of different medium while letting each step apparent so to include the process in the final image. Somehow I began to draw this imaginary portrait, on this new "mixed media" paper I had recently got hold of. Midway, I realised I was not going at all where my first impulse was suppose to lead me. I kept struggling with hold habits of outlining, detailing at early stage, erasing and fixing instead of compiling and adapting. The subject turned out to be out of control, that is: I wanted it to look out of control, but I kept applying my good old inhibited standards and completely missed my point. How funny that is, even though it really didn't feel that way. I fell I was playing an sort of anti-game with myself, proving myself that in fact I can do things the old way in a secure manner instead of rolling free through a ground-breaking experiment.
This was the first step right after the initial graphite sketch, laying down the ground work with colour pencil:
The plan was to go much wilder and have coloured lines going all over the place. but you understand by now that's not how it went like. Once this step reach completion I knew things were not going to go as intended but that I had to change gear and comply to what was to be done.
The next step was done with acrylic paint on top of the colour pencil layer:
For the mid-layers, I usually like to use complementary colours of the final upper layers, but for some reason it didn't do it this time and the final layer done with oil paint was simply a refinement of the build I had laid down so far. I also clearly so at this stage the religious aspect of the figure and decided to go all in in this direction by putting gold on her aureole.
Here is the final image, after the oil paint layer was applied and varnished:
Considering my initial intent regarding this image and what I wanted it to be, I felt very disappointed by the end result. I nearly destroyed it, but refrained myself from doing so. A few weeks passed and I began to see this work with new eyes. I began to appreciate it for what it was and not what I wanted it to be. Finally, because I felt shy about it and still didn't want to "release it" and show it to the world, I decided to glue it on the cover of my "personal folklore" sketchbook. I love to personalize my sketchbooks, which are for me the most precious things I have. So here is how the sketchbook look after customization:
Finally, after publishing the image on my facebook page I realized, unexpectedly, that people were very fond of it. They appreciate the colour scheme, the atmosphere. I have to say that I was a bit shy to show it and unsure about people's reactions concerning it. But somehow, after all this process, this is a lesson for me. A lesson of acceptance of the will of an image, as if an image had its own will to be and one had to surrender to it to see it appear. And a lesson of letting go of one's judgement of things, and understand that people see and relate differently to an image one "creates", or puts together. (For I don't really understand the word create when it comes to art. But that's a topic for another blog.)
That's it for today. I hope you have enjoyed this episode of Trail of colour. I can't wait to read your comments. Feel free to share the post if you like.
Wishing you an exciting week ahead, full of little and big realisations!
Adrien Sourdot, signing off. Peace.