What is your art voice? #1 Who are you?

Hello art friends and other friendly peeps! In an interview with the lovely children’s book illustrator Nina Rycroft for her Project Portfolio workshop, we talked about this topic. We might even know each other from Nina’s project, hi again! 🙂 Since then, I learned a ton and I would like to share these things with you.

Here is my first of five blog posts about finding your art voice. This blogpost is a revised version of one I did on a test blog earlier. Maybe you already happened to see that one. In that case, no panic, I added some new questions to the list for you to work with and a little worksheet.

Let me start with a simple question though: What do you usually draw? Florals? Bears? Foxes? Birds? It is great to know how to draw these and have them in your portfolio. There will always be a demand for them. But the thing is, everyone else has them in their portfolio too. So to make your portfolio stand out more and be more YOU, it’s good to go more in depth in topics that interest you. (And boy, need I be doing that as well!)

HOW DO YOU FIND YOUR OWN ART STYLE?

I found out that the more I focus on finding my own style, the less of a chance I have to actually find it. The question becomes an anxious one and it will actually block my creative muse.

So, how do you find your style without worrying about it?

The very one answer that helped me most, is to create from within yourself. I have 5 tips for you that I will share in five separate posts.

Today I will go a little deeper into tip number one: Zoom in on who you are.

TIP #1: WHO ARE YOU?

In stead of frantically searching for a style, ask yourself: What is my voice? What makes you YOU? What stories do you have to tell? To be able to create from within yourself, you need to really tune in on your own heart, mind, and life. You have to find yourself first if you want to find your own art voice.

Ask yourself some questions:

  • What do I love to do in my spare time?
  • Which topics interest me?
  • What would I like to know more of?
  • What is meaningful to me?
  • What adds value to my life?
  • Are there specific causes that I support?
  • How does my typical daily life look like?
  • What is so typically me?
  • What are my quirks?
  • What weird things do I do?
  • What random stuff do I collect? Or am I a minimalist?
  • What random facts do I know?
  • What did I love to do when I was a child?
  • What are the places I like to visit?
  • Are there any types of landscapes or cityscapes that I prefer?
  • Do I like to go on city trips? Or rather go on hikes in nature? Or maybe stay at home?

Here you go, (or scroll down for a little worksheet):

  • Favourite countries to travel?
  • What are my favourite foods and drinks?
  • Do I like to cook? Or do I hate it and make a mess? If yes: do I have favourite recipes to cook?
  • Do I love to cook for family and friends? Or does that sound like a horror scenario to me?
  • Maybe I prefer to go to a restaurant and/or pubs? Or go on a picknick together? A pot-luck?
  • Who are the people I (love to) spend my time with?
  • Do I love inviting friends and/or family at home? Or do I prefer to spend my time alone?
  • What books do I like to read? Or do I like reading at all?
  • What are my favourite animals? Am I allergic to animals?
  • Do I have pets? If not, would I like to have pets?
  • If I do have a pet, what is so typical about this animal?
  • Are there any other animals that fascinate me?
  • Or maybe that scare me?
  • What sports do I like to play?
  • What is my favourite music? Do I like to play music myself as well?
  • Or do I prefer silence or the sounds of nature?
  • What are my favourite movies? Do I like going to the movies?
  • Do I have a specific fashion style that I like? Does fashion me at all?
  • What’s on my bucket list?

I got some more questions for you:

  • Is there a person who fascinates me? Someone who inspires me?
  • Who do I adore?
  • Who bothers me? People I’d like to avoid?
  • What are some favourite childhood memories?
  • What is my earliest memory?
  • Who or what did I want to be or become when I was a child?
  • Did I have a lively imagination? Did I have imaginary friends or plush toy friends?
  • Or a pet as a friend?
  • Did I have to overcome hardships? If yes, which?
  • How would I describe myself?
  • Have I changed as a person? If yes, how and why?
  • Do I come from a close-knit family?
  • What does my family look like?
  • What role do I play in this family?
  • Do I have a specific cultural background? Am I from a mixed background?
  • If yes, (how) does this influence me?
  • Am I a spiritual or religious person?
  • Have I been moving around a lot or have I always stayed in the same area?
  • What skills do I have? And how did I develop these?
  • Do I have dreams and goals for the future?

This list could go on and on! And I’m sure you can think of other questions to ask yourself too.

I have made a little worksheet for you to fill in with some of the questions above and some extra. Feel free to download it. But better yet: create one for yourself with YOUR questions and art work!

Enough homework for today!

I will go write about tips #2 till 5 and other illustration topics and keep you posted.

Sunny day to you!

xo Wen

If you’d like to receive behind the scenes, work processes, things learned, tips and so on, please join my newsletter fam. I’ll try do this kind of monthly, but no promise here, cause I know myself too well 🙂

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Exciting news!

The Belgian publisher Clavis has given me a couple of children’s book commissions to illustrate! Since they will be published in Dutch, I will write this blog post in both English and Dutch. (De Nederlandse tekst is te vinden onder de Engelse tekst.)

Today I will reveal the cover of the first one. “Klappende Rozen en Bloemen Vol Boter”, a picturebook written by Margreet Schouwenaar. I saw today it’s in the header of the homepage of Clavis!

Meet Emma. Together with her grandma and Dog, she explores nature in a series of three books. This first book is about wildflowers. On nature walks through the seasons grandma teaches Emma the names of the flowers. The text is full of word play. A sweet and magical story.

You can pre-order a copy at Amazon (the Dutch department), Bol.com, Bruna, and Bookspot, among others.

Margreet has several books published by various publishers. I will illustrate another book for her, a chapterbook in black and white. But I will tell about that another time.

I’m very busy with finishing the illustrations for this first book. The deadline is verrrrry soon! And later in another blogpost I intend to share some of the work process and things I learned on the way. Keep an eye out for this if you’re interested! When you sign up for my newsletter (at the end of this post or, on desktop, in the sidebar), you will get notified when I post things like that. My wish is to share work processes, things learned, tips and so on. And I’ll try do this kind of monthly, but no promise here, cause I know myself too well 🙂

For now, sunny smiles and happy day!

xo Wen


En nu in het Nederlands!

Hallo lieve kinderboek fans en andere gezellige mensen! De Belgische Uitgeverij Clavis heeft mij een aantal kinderboek opdrachten gegeven om te illustreren. Vandaag een introductie van het eerste boek wat zal uitkomen. “Klappende Rozen en Bloemen Vol Boter”, een prentenboek, geschreven door Margreet Schouwenaar.

Emma wandelt met haar oma door de seizoenen. In de lente leert ze dat paardenbloemen niet hinniken en in de zomer leert oma Emma fluiten met het Fluitenkruid. Zo wandelen ze samen door de seizoenen tot Emma de bloemen kan groeten alsof het haar vriendjes zijn. Een lief en magisch verhaal.

Je kunt het boek alvast reserveren bij o.a. Amazon, Bol.com, Bruna en Bookspot.

Margreet heeft meerdere boeken bij verschillende uitgevers op haar naam staan voor een breed publiek. En zij is stadsdichter geweest van Alkmaar, waarbij zij Joost Zwagerman opvolgde. Ik zal naast deze serie over Emma ook nog een ander boek van haar illustreren, maar daar zal ik een andere keer over vertellen.

Op dit moment ben ik nog heel druk bezig de laatste hand te leggen aan de tekeningen voor dit eerste deel van de Emma serie. Die moeten binnenkort worden ingeleverd. Dus ik ga gauw weer aan het werk! Hopelijk tot een andere keer weer!

Lieve groet,

Wen

P.s.: mocht je interesse hebben in het illustratievak en Engels is geen probleem, dan vind je het misschien leuk om je te abonneren op mijn nieuwsbrief. Ik deel daarin tips, kijkjes achter de schermen, dingen die ik leer over het vak en soms wat nieuwtjes. Ik zal nooit spam-men of een hele lading nieuwsbrieven achter elkaar sturen. Zo functioneert mijn brein gelukkig niet! Het zal eerder zo zijn dat je wellicht eens denkt: goh, tijd niks van Wen gehoord 🙂

(Tip: het kan zijn dat mijn briefje in je spam-box belandt. Vooral Gmail heeft daar een handje van. In dat geval is het aan te raden om me toe te voegen aan je contactenlijst.)

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Hello and welcome!

Hello there, Wen here! This is not the first post here, but I thought I do a little welcome post for everyone joining my recent adventure: my newsletter.

A bit about me and this blog: I’m an illustrator from The Netherlands. A couple of years ago I started out on a new adventure into the world of illustration. On this blog I will occasionally share tips and things I learned on the way.

Things I’m thinking about sharing here are:

  • Becoming a freelance illustrator
  • Behind the scenes of making a children’s book
  • Work processes
  • Things learned on the way
  • Things to cheer you on on your own art journey
  • Work sheets
  • Drawing and writing prompts and exercises
  • Other tips and interesting tidbits
  • And I’d love to hear what else you’d like to learn more about!

Once in a while there will also be some news about my illustration jobs that I’d like to share with you. Hope you will enjoy your stay here!

Wishing you a happy day!

xo Wen