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.