If I send you samples of my work, can you critique it for me?

These days, I just don’t have the spare time to look through prospective illustrator’s portfolios and offer up a critique. Here are some tips and pointers based on common problems I usually see with a students’ portfolio:

The most common weakness in many young artist’s work is an inability to render the human form. Take life-drawing classes. Understanding anatomy really helps you understand how to get your characters to act on the page. Think of what animators have to do to relay emotion in the drawing. You need to be able to do it in one or two images. Don’t just focus on drawing humans from life, fill your sketchbooks with animals, plants, architecture…everything.

Experiment with a variety of art mediums to find what works best for you. Just because you admire another artist’s work does not mean you have to work in their exact mediums. Find your niche.

Study many artists, both present and past. My art is but a link in a chain of influences from all over. If you really like my work, you’ll find that I am influenced by Brian Froud who was influenced by Arthur Rackham and Jon Bauer. The list goes on and on. Find your own inspirations and it will help you develop your own unique style.

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Never Abandon Imagination Tony DiTerlizzi: Never abandon imagination.

Imagination is a world of possibility that exists within each of us. It is what makes us uniquely human. It is our creative fingerprint that touches and influences the world around us. Imagination is essential to art and science; to innovation and prosperity. It gives us hope, calls us to action and leads to change.

Whether it’s fairies, dragons, robots or aliens, all of my children’s book characters are siblings born of my imagination – an imagination strengthened through years of encouragement from family, teachers and friends. While so many others abandoned it during their transition from childhood to adulthood, I fiercely held onto mine, hoping for a day when I could share it to inspire the next generation of dreamers. Innovators. World changers.

Imagination empowers us to envision and create a reality of what could be. We must hold it dear, foster it and never abandon it.