If you ask most creative or artistic people if they like their own work, you’ll probably get a head shake or some sort of sound that is less than positive in response. One of my goals is to be able to look back at projects or illustrations that were completed a few years ago and ask myself how I feel about them. Hopefully, I’ll be able to say how much better they could have been if I attempted them now.
The illustrations above are gifts I gave to my sister of my nephew and nieces on each of their first Christmases.
This was one of my first attempts at creating a gradient mesh in Illustrator CS. It was completed in 2006 based on a photo I had taken of him earlier that year. I learned a lot about Illustrator as a program while doing this piece, including how to create a few simple lighting effects to add volume and depth. The entire illustration was an experiment with a set of successes and failures. I took the successes and tried to forget the failures to move on to the next piece.
With Mia, I decided to play with the composition a little bit and increase the color saturation as much as possible. This was also based on a photo, taken a short time after she was born in 2008. She was sitting in a pillow that had the same flower pattern that is expanded to fill the background. The lines on her clothes needed to convey the shape of her form underneath, and I chose to leave her arm sticking out and wrap the pattern and her name in the negative space in the upper lefthand corner. This image had more successes, but I may have done a few things differently today.
Celine is my most recent niece, and the piece was just completed for Christmas 2011. Between Mia and this one I have upgraded to Illustrator CS5, and have learned a bit more about light and shadow. It also helped that the source image was taken with a better camera than the first two. There are some areas I wish could be a little smoother, but overall I am happy that this shows my advancement with one of the least used and toughest to manage tools in Illustrator.
So, if you asked me if I am happy with my old work, I would give you the same answer that most creative people would offer. I am satisfied with facing a challenge and overcoming it while being able to walk away from it knowing something new. I am glad that I can look at the picture of Tyson and see all of the places it could be better, but knowing it is also of a time when I didn’t have the same skillset I do today.