10 Steps to Boosting Your Artwork to the Next Level | Brad Woodard | Skillshare

10 Steps to Boosting Your Artwork to the Next Level

Brad Woodard, Illustrator + Graphic Designer

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11 Lessons (50m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. 1. Establish Your Goals and Passions

    • 3. 2. Broaden Your Pool of Inspiration

    • 4. 3. Collaborate with Talented People

    • 5. 4. Set Rules and Limitations

    • 6. 5. Work in a Series

    • 7. 6. Write and Teach

    • 8. 7. Experiment and Play

    • 9. 8. Understand the Basics

    • 10. 9. Be a Student

    • 11. 10. Address Your Weaknesses


About This Class

Looking to enhance or find your personal style? Want to land that dream job? Want to work on more exciting projects? 

In just 50 minutes Brad Woodard, professional illustrator and graphic designer, will share the same steps he followed that led him to co-found Brave the Woods within only two years of working professionally and create work for clients like Ebay, Microsoft, Target, and USPS.

Nothing replaces mileage, but you can get to where you want in your creative career, quicker if you follow these simple steps to success. 

*This is mainly talking head style with a few visuals, in a digestible format. Perfect for listening while you continue to work. Though it is a lecture style, you still have actionable tasks you can take from each step!*

What makes this class special?

  • Every step comes with an actionable task to help you see quicker results and track your progress.
  • Included are downloadable cheat sheets and worksheets to aid you.
  • The class is under an hour long and could be listened to while you are at work. 
  • You are getting access to content Brad generally saves for his lectures.

Who is this class for and what do you need?

  • Any and all creatives welcome! All skill levels!
  • You only need a healthy drive to make your creative goals happen. 



1. Introduction: hi. Money is Brad would. I'm a professional graphic designer and illustrator living in working in Boise, Idaho, to be a successful artist. It takes a whole lot of hard work, a lot of practice and the ability to grow the hard work part it's always gonna be. There is nothing that can replace mileage, but many of us are working hard without having clear goals toe work towards. So in this course, I want to teach you how to work both hard and smart. Just two years after I graduated with a degree in graphic design, I went ahead and co founded my own design and illustration studio called Brave the Woods With my wife, Crystal. We've been successfully growing it and running it for five years now, working with clients like Microsoft, eBay, target USPS. But now I want to help you boost your own creative career by sharing with you the top 10 steps that I took to take in my own artwork to the next level. Now, after each step, I'm gonna leave you with actionable advice, accessible tasks that you can do so that you can see and mark your own progress. It doesn't matter where you on your creative journey. If you're just starting out about to graduate college or if you are 10 20 years into your professional career, this course is going to help you see tangible growth in your personal style and in your creative career. 2. 1. Establish Your Goals and Passions: The very first step has to be making goals. You have to know where you're going and no girl should be made without first understanding what your passions are because you want your passions in your goals to align. Because obviously, when you're more passionate about something, you're gonna invest more time and energy into your gonna try a whole lot harder and you're gonna have better work as a result. Um, but the problem is is a lot of us don't plan ahead, and then we end up finding ourselves working at a job that we don't like, or we find ourselves doing too much of this one style And we were like, This is Onley style. I know how to work in. This is something that's being requested from my clients and you don't really know how to work out of that rut. A lot of that's just from not planning ahead, but you can course correct. I had to do the same thing. When I first got out of college, I started working with infographics or two column five did tons of the Infographic. What infographics were all the craze and I loved It was a great part of my career, but I wanted to also move on to other things, and I noticed it was very hard to get out of infographics because everybody that was requesting work for me from the outside. But I still have my full time job on my freelance clients were asking me for infographic work, so it was really hard to get out of that, cause that's all I had in my portfolio. You don't want to be going down 5 10 years down your career and have that same moment where you're like, This is all I have in my portfolio, but I want to do something very, very different. So hopefully the nine steps coming after this is part of this course should help you solve that problem. So you can course correct, no matter where you're at. And, uh, we're gonna go back to the goals. The best way to setting your goals is by setting smart goals. Smart goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound. If your goal is none of these things that you might as well take a coin out of your pocket , checking into upon and just wish that it happens now I had a goal for a really long time. I wanted to illustrate a Children's book and let's look at our acronym to see how that was A smart goal is a specific Yes, Wanted to illustrated. Children's book is immeasurable. Yes, If I illustrated a Children's book, it is measurable. Is it attainable? Yes, actually, I illustrated my very first Children's book because my wife wrote it. And then we had, ah, put it up on Kickstarter and self published it. We made it happen. So it's an attainable goal. Was it relevant? Yeah, it aligned with my passions. I love creating artwork for kids like and my stuff was perfect for Children's books. The stuff that I loved and ah, yeah, it was definitely relevant for for what my passions were. Is it time bound? Yeah, we did it in response to Typhoon Han, a big typhoon that hit the Philippines a while back. And, ah, we wanted to help get clean water to some areas. So the proceeds from the book went to helping those people get clean water. And so we did have a timeline. We wanted to have it happen pretty quickly, so we did it in under a year and we set the time the deadline, and then we went ahead and made milestones to get there. So for you, once you have your goals, you want to make sure your post them somewhere posted up, put on your computer poster on your wall, share with your friends, your family, social media, anything like that. Make sure they're written down and that you have them to look at in the frequently, um, check in on and fall upon those milestones and holds you accountable. If you sharing with the world, everybody else is already seen what you want to do, and they're gonna be anxious to see if you do it, so it forces you to do it. But OK, so now let's talk about what your task is. What's the very first task that you can? You How can you do this? Figure out your passions and then make some goals to help you out? I've made some worksheets that you can download and that you can fill out. So, for example, for your passions to figure that out, I'm gonna ask you questions like if money was not an option, what would you do for a living or what did people say You're good at? Is there anything you do that makes you really, really happy? What are some of your philosophies or values? Things like those are gonna help you. If you start answering those, you're gonna start narrowing down on what really makes you happy. What you're really passions are, And then you need to start making some goals and how to attain them and start setting milestones, and I'll have it set up so that you have a worksheet full of milestones that have a plan you can write down. What you want to do with the milestone is what the plan is and what the completion date is . And then it goes on. You can set multiple milestones before you reach the final deadline of reaching your goal. So take time. Look at that, sir. Take a look at the worksheets and, uh, go make it happen. Make some goals 3. 2. Broaden Your Pool of Inspiration: the number. One question that I get asked by people is, Where do you get your inspiration who inspires you? And I kind of have a love hate relationship with that question. It's innocent, and I understand exactly why they're asking it. But it's a really, really hard one to answer. Maybe that's why I don't like it is because inspiration shouldn't come from one source or just a few sources. It shouldn't be. Just one artist inspires you are one era or one project or or one experience. It should be all of those things. You should be inspired by lots of things and then find out how to incorporate those into your art. So it's a really hard one to answer, but it kind of got me thinking, and this is what I wanted to share with you. As the second step is, have your artwork be inspired by lots and lots of different sources? I mean, we think that's easy, but when you're starting out in your in college, you tend toe Teoh to focus on specific arrows or a specific artist, and you start making your work with the problem that's back. Then it's, you know you understand that you're learning in your trying to figure out, but you can see when you're looking at your work like, Wow, that was heavily inspired by this artist or that era. You know exactly where it came from, one or two different, um, sources. But you pretty much know where it's at when I'm creating the artwork. I do now. I hope people looking at me like, Oh wow, that kind of has a feeling of this going a little bit of that and I wonder why they put this color in there. You know, there's all these different inspirations that makes my work. It elevates my work because it makes it more unique. I don't want to be the knock off brand of someone else's work. You know, I don't want to be the marshmallow maybes to someone else's lucky charms. If I can use my cereal references, um, you want to be creating work that's unique, and that takes lots of inspiration from multiple sources. I was born in West Virginia. Then we moved to Seattle when I was really young. So every summer we still went back and visited my grandma and grandpa at their farmhouse. And so I stayed in my uncle's bedroom that was still decorated like it was from the sixties . That was an experience that really, really shaped the style that I that I work in right now, and you can tell that I love that mid century air I love when there's bright, bold colors and shapes, and I just I'm really drawn to that. And I feel like it came from all those you know. All of those days that I would spend in the has been his, you know, bedroom. And I like how the Erector sets. He had all of the old science books and Hardy boys books, all that stuff. I was very, very inspired by that. Another thing I was inspired by was I was I lived in the Philippines for a couple of years , and all the colors that they had all the fruit was super bright and vibrant. All the green, you know, The jungle canopy handled the blue on the ocean. Everybody's clothes were bright colors and other jeepneys and transportation where brightly colored and so I feel like a lot of that. The color that I bring into my art comes was highly inspired by that. What I'm trying to say is be inspired by more than just what you see on your screens. Looking at your screen to can be kind of depressing. It's kind of dangerous. You're getting those downward spirals spirals where you're just looking at other people's work and feeling down about you know what. You're consuming mawr and producing less, and you're feeling down about your abilities and whatnot. So get out of your your office and get some experiences. You pull from your past where you can create new ones, and that's what leads me to your task for this step. Your task is to get away and go on a trip once a week. Try it once a week. Now your trip doesn't have to be across the world. It just has to be away from your computer and out of your office. Take a trip to the antique store. I love doing that. I get a look at what was made to look. A cool labels. Antique stores an awesome one. Go to a museum, goto a science center, go to on art gallery, go to a convention, goto a lecture. There's so many different places that you can go outside of your computer that will create an awesome experience and a great source of inspiration for you. So your task is to get away from your computer and go on a trip once a week, try it out. 4. 3. Collaborate with Talented People: one of the best ways that found elevate my own artwork is by working with super talented, smart people by collaborating, being coming friends with surrounding myself. With all these smart people, you can surround yourself with stupid people, look really smart, or you could surround yourself with super smart people and make yourself even smarter. So when you're collaborating with people, you're looking into their process. You're kind of forced to meld on dure two processes together and you have to teach yours. You have to listen to theirs, and it's a process where you can grow quite a bit with your own style, and you can create something that you never would have thought possible by yourself, which is really, really need or win a direction that you didn't completely plan because you have someone else's input. And, uh, I know that was like my least favorite thing in school. What I really didn't want anybody else's input. I didn't want anybody else working on a project with me. But as I've matured, I found that working with people with complementary skills is a huge asset, not just to the project itself, but to my own, um, my own skills and growth, so collaborating with people super important. I collaborated with my good friend Dustin Lee at Retro Supply. We work on projects like we've created lots of digital brushes and we've had to reinvent a different way to sell these brushes. That made more sense to the buyer moves more valuable to the buyer. He he brought the like the skills of being able to make the tools but also be ableto market them, whereas I was able to present them in a way that was appealing with the artwork and then also be able to teach how to use them. So we've been doing lots of them. We do other things like Webinars, but that has really, really helped me grow in my career as well. You can collaborate with your clients. I highly recommend if you have clients and you treat them like they are a collaborative partner, that you will have a much better experience with the projects that you do with them. A lot of times we like to say, you know, play God as the creative and saying, you know, this is how it's going to be. I with one that went to school for this. This is my is my job. A lot of that's true, but also your client knows who they're working with. Thing no, the project more intimately than you do. And they have solutions that could really, really help you out if you collaborated or they could just help you out. In general, I worked on a book called Ono Astro. I did it for I did the illustrations for Simon and Schuster in this book. It was my 1st 1 that I had ever illustrated of outside of my own self published one, and so I was really nervous at creating it. But the client was so awesome and walking me through pacing and and where you know where you put the text on the book and how you'd like leave some pages blank or whatever, lots of different things that I didn't know that they walk me through. And if they hadn't have collaborated and help me and I didn't let them, it would have been a terrible project, but it was awesome. So collaborate with amazing, talented, smart people, whether it's your client, whether it's a friend, whether it's anyone, make sure that you're collaborating. I promise your work will get better. So here's the task. Find another smart, talented, hard working person that you can collaborate with and start a project together. It could be a really small when it could be after work. Could be a little side project that you want to dio. But just try it out, collaborate with someone and see how it goes. 5. 4. Set Rules and Limitations: the quote restrictions breed creativity is probably more relevant now than it ever has been . We live in this technologically advanced digital art age where we're able to literally dream whatever we dream of weekend create in any dimension out of any material with as many colors of you want. We really don't have much holding us back from what we want to create, which I think sometimes concise, awful, our creativity. You know, I love studying art history because as an artist, I like to see how things were made before me and why they made the things that they did. For example, one thing that I I love, including in my own artwork and I like it aesthetically, is the half tone patterns I really love, how that looks. And I like how you can get away with doing less colors, using less colors and keeping but still keeping value changes because I can uses half tones instead. Um, but that wasn't created as this awesome aesthetic choice to begin with. It was created because of printing limitations, and that was a problem that they had to solve, and that wouldn't have come from anything if they didn't have to solve that problem. So, you know, we use it as an aesthetics thing when that was, you know, like that was problem solving then So now you know, when we're using, you know, when I have projects that I start, I tried t use self imposed, you know? Ah, restrictions or rules. Whenever even what, Like I said we want. It's just like my own projects, because when I have billions of billions and billions of possibilities, it's really hard to sit down to focus on one. And who knows if I'm going to create something unique a lot of times when you just fall back to our normal routine with the normal tools I don't like to use or the normal colors that I like to go with. But when you say things like, Okay, I'm interested on this project, I'm going to say I'm only gonna work in two colors. So now I have to think of a lot of a lot of different things. We're gonna be OK. Well, how am I gonna balance the I work? I'm going to keep my How am I gonna keep it feeling not too heavy in this area? or whatnot or how I'm gonna be able to let some things stand out like there's a lot of problems now I have to solve and ah, but in doing so, I'm making it a little bit easier on myself because now those other things I don't have to worry about all these other color things that have to worry about during this project I no longer have to worry about. I just picked my two colors and I'm done. Or I could say I'm just gonna create in black and white or you can limit your tools. You can say, you know, I'm gonna paint this whole thing, but I'm gonna do with the toothbrush. I don't see too many people painting with toothbrushes, so when you're when you do that, maybe you'll find a cool new technique that you like. You may not use that all the time, but you might find a cool technique and create something something new or like you know, photographers using pinhole cameras and liking the qualities that come from that, you know, creating patterns out of just tight lots and lots of different things. But creating those can help you solve problems you never thought were there. I think the quote is necessity is the mother of invention. And I believe that's completely relevant when you're creating artwork and so you know, I'll get clients a lot of the times that like to reach out to me and and, uh, you know, bless their hearts. They think they're doing me a favor by saying, you know, be creative as you like. I trust you. Just just be creative my okay? What? What do you What do you want for this? And don't worry about it. You just be creative. I trust you as much as like I won't be able to trust me one. I know that they have something on their mind that they want, and so that's gonna come back to bite me later. But also, how do you start something for someone else when you have nothing to work off of? Even if they just gave me brand colors and then said, This is kind of what I'm thinking that would help me focus. What I'm working on and make something that can truly solve a problem that you know they would need otherwise is just me creating art for the sake of making art and not necessarily having any goal for it. So Okay, now I'm gonna give you a really easy task for yourself to do. And this, admittedly, this could go along with the other task that you have. And you can merge as many of these tasks that you have on this list for me to these steps. You can merge any of them you want in tow. One single task, one single project. That's totally fine. I just want you to have the opportunity to try them all out on your next project. I challenge you to add three self imposed restrictions. They could be small. That could be big. Whatever you want to do, that could be the medium. They can be your changing up your tools or, you know, limiting your your timeline, making it a quicker deadline. You can have ah, different. You can limit the amount of colors you wanna have on their whatever it is at three of them . And I promise, if you do that, your work is gonna be more unique. And you're gonna discover something new on the next project. So go try it out. 6. 5. Work in a Series : creating a one off piece of artists infinitely easier than creating an entire Siri's. You have to take specific elements and repeat them throughout, and sometimes showcase something that, like the subject matter in a completely different light throughout a Siri's, which forces you to really learn how to make that one thing. For example, let's say you're thing is drawing bears, and you're fantastic at drawing bears. In this angle, you're a side profile, and you're really good. You really excel it, making mountains, and you have this beautiful skate. So this is it. Let's just say it's a painting of this beautiful paintings bearing the mountains. But now, if you want to be able to if you want to really take back to the next level and learn how to really draw bears or learn how to draw landscapes, you wouldn't stick with just that one. Try making it into a Siri's. So let's say now is down by a stream realized by waterfall and now the bears in a different , completely different pose at a different time of day. All of these things air pushing your skills further and further and further and making you a better artist. So try and taking things from just a single one off and try to create an entire Siri's. A few good examples from my own work would be this job I did with Card Nest. We had to do something called the Definition Card collection. It was, ah, line of Children's birthday cards, and each card had toe. Have you know the what? The sound of the character, the sound the character made and then a an interpretation underneath little definition, saying, Like for the T. Rex. Oh, Roar is T. Rex for Happy Birthday, and we had to replicate that not only that style when I was creating the created T. Rex first. Then I had to make sure that that style worked throughout. They didn't be exactly the same, but I wanted to make sure that style work. And that was a challenge in and of itself, recreating that same style and look with different types of characters. Not all animals. One is a robot same type of thing. When I did the how Design awards characters, each character had to represent a different in house award or a different design award like in House International Self promotion, logos, posters, all those in the same thing. I had to replicate a specific style, the same color palette and everything throughout with different animals in different situations. And then, you know, it's kind of like I have this, you know, the book that I did? Oh, no, Astro. I use it as an example because, you know, creating I'm sorry. These are all characters, but for me, and then I feel like this is most applicable to me as an illustrator. But I'll have, like, you know, in my book Oh, no, Astro that I illustrated it has I had to take that same character and replicate him throughout in this book, put him in different scenarios but also had to change different facial expressions That was really pushing my abilities as, ah you know, as a character illustrator and be able to just like I can create these one offs. But being able to put him in different situations, different facial expressions, it was very, very foreign to me and really pushed my abilities, which was, uh, help me grow quite a bit. I just like, oh, forces you to account for a lot more things like you have to think about color, harmony, consistency, different perspectives or views. It could really help you extend your your skill set and just make you a better artist. Overall pushes you out of your comfort zone. So the task for this step is to take a piece of art that you already have you've already made and then make two more pieces to go along with it to create a series of three pieces of art. And that's repeating that Styler that theme throughout to make it feel consistent so it right out. 7. 6. Write and Teach: I love the teach. I love the whole process of figuring out how to organize information in a way that's, you know, digestible for for anyone who wants to learn. And I've had the opportunity, you know, to teach in schools and universities, companies at conferences, doing lectures and workshops, all of these different things. And I mean, even here on skill, share of time here for five years, which is still crazy to think. But all of those opportunities have elevated my own are, you know, my artistic abilities just simply because I've had to put so much time into researching how I do the things that I do are researching a specific topic that I want to teach. And that whole thing has really helped me get to the point that I am, and I'm grateful for it. So if you teach, you know you're preparing content in a way differently than if you were just to make that content. You know, if I'm if I'm gonna teach something, I have toe ask myself a whole lot more questions. And if I was just to, you know, mechanically do it a lot of time, just really good to if you want to teach, is having somebody else ask you questions about your process as you're doing it. You know, sometimes you don't really know what you're doing It it's hard to explain it. So if you have someone else asking questions like, I didn't know that you didn't know how to do that or that was a thing that even needed explaining. But oftentimes it does, especially when I was doing my intruder illustrator class. Like I thought these things were just intuitive, but they weren't and I went to me either. I just didn't remember that I had to learn them. So, uh, teaching is is a really neat process, and it helps you study and focus, just like teaching another part of that, I feel like just goes hand in hand is writing. Writing is just another way to communicate, So why wouldn't you want to add that to your arsenal? Because when you're an artist, a lot of times you're gonna have to explain why you did things, and being able to write is a huge, huge boost to you, you know, being able to explain exactly why you used the colors you did or why you, you know, did it in this style or any of that, like, just tryingto explain the piece that you did to other people so they can understand it. But also, if you're going to sell it to, let's say, a client and you're trying to pitch this idea, being able to write that out and be ableto get the words on paper and articulate exactly what you want is going to be massive for you when you're trying to sell your art. You know, I started a blawg right near the end of college in my senior year, as I really wanted to explore. You know, my the industry that I was going into a little bit more and I wanted to share some ideas that I was running. I just came out of college. I was super excited about a lot of things. I've learned a lot of things, and so I wanted to share it, and I even took a bunch of creative writing classes because I wanted to get better at it. And, ah, after setting up that blawg, you know, it was it was it wasn't a crazy detail. Blawg. I just wrote little articles about things that I was passionate about. Maybe there's a certain style that I really appreciated in there. A certain era of art that I really wanted to talk about in my thoughts and opinions on it. And I wanted to share that out there. But also if I found other art, I wanted to kind of share what my opinions were of that and why I thought this was good or why this is bad and that process of doing of, you know, evaluating something and then finding the words to communicate. It really boosted my creative career. And, uh and I would say, You know, I did things like I would say it made more connections for me, too, because I would interview people in these blog's and they were perhaps out of my I felt like there were kind of untouchable that they were. They were more famous in my mind, these artists and they're very, very talented artist. Now you would know all their names today, but me reaching out to them was kind of a stretch. But in my blogger, I really wanted to learn from these people, so it gave me an excuse to, you know, I wrote out some questions that I had for them, and they were ableto right back and give me some awesome insights into their own process which helped me learn. But I was also able to create a following and people we don't really appreciated that. And it also kind of put me in a position where I felt I looked like I was a, uh, an expert or whatever in that field, whether I was or not, I still don't feel like I am. But it was I was able to, um, you know, curate a lot warmer followers with my own work, which became really helpful because those artists that were you know, I interviewed have now become friends and the fans of my work as I was progressing, and I get work from them today. So writing, teaching all of these things are a great way to communicate with other people. And not only, like I said, sell your own stuff, but able to, um, just explain what your own ideas are. Your your philosophies are so very beneficial. So you're test for this step is to write one article about something that you're passionate about in your creative industry and post it online 8. 7. Experiment and Play: as almost you're working for other people. Not every single project that you do is going to be super Super fund for you or something that you're super passionate about and on. That's okay. You know, unless you're a fine artist where you're creating art for the sake of art. And ah, you know, you're gonna have to deal with some with some clients with some projects that you may not typically want to to take on and nothing that you're morally opposed to just projects that you're not super passionate about. And that's why it's so important to find time to experiment and play and to really explore you know what the possibilities are, um, within your own skill set. And ah, but also find what else you're interested in. You know, I I worked in multiple places. I worked a small, a small design firm. I worked at a start up creative agency. It worked at a large, large ad agency, you know, after all, but I was I was a designer at every single one of those, so I had to come home and do the products that I was really, really passionate about and a lot of it turned out to be illustration work, and I didn't really know, like if I had a style or anything like that. So that stage of experimenting and playing around just for the sake of doing it when I got home, even though I was burned out from work, it was my outlet. And I would take that time to stay up late, working on those. And then it started bringing in client work for that type of the type of work that I was doing in my free time. So I had to generate, you know, some some reason for clients potential clients to come to me and asked me to work in that style or work on illustration in general because I hadn't done it in my day job. So ah, really, really important to find times to experiment and play Now there's a time within every product I feel like and you can collaborate with, like I like to collaborate with my clients because then I can really open up the expectation a little bit of you know, or let them know that, uh, I want to explore a little bit beyond what they're, you know, thinking for this project. A lot of clients will come in kind of they'll say, be creative. But a lot of them have, like, a set thing that they want in their mind, and they don't let you deviate too much from it. So if they're one of those clients, I'd like to try to set up a report at the beginning with them. So they know that there were, you know, that we're pushing ideas back and forth, and this is the process that I want to go through. So I like to experiment beforehand so that I can kind of open up now. There's no wrong answers, just, you know, just explore and then you know, there's another. There's another point after that where you have to just start doing the work. Um, eso play around one way that I do this one way that I opened up in an experiment plays Ah, I do. I work with different tools sometimes, like maybe if I have always using a paintbrush. Maybe, Like I said, I talked about a toothbrush will use a bigger brush or use different, different medium or, um, you know, work with a different medium working different styles, you know, Like I said in the last video about my character challenge, I worked on tons and tons of different styles for these characters. And the cool thing about it, too, is you You discover a lot about, um, like I said, what you can do, but also what your preferences are, you know, is it's a good way to discover what your style is like, what you what you prefer. For example, I'll keep talking if I don't just get to the point here. So on the character challenge, for example, was working tons of different illustration styles, just trying to figure out trying to play around with my characters. No reason. But what I found was, is that I was doing my eyes like a lot of things out. My go to my first. My first reaction was this type of I, and I noticed that I did that. I noticed other little things that I was doing. I was like, Oh, I'm using that color a lot where I'm using this. I like to do this little outline with black. You know, I'm just some parts of the illustration and no matter what style. I did. I kept introducing that into and I found, you know, like those were those were a little bit of me coming out, you know, that was that was my style trying to break out. And so, you know, the working in a 1,000,000 different styles didn't stop. My style didn't stunt my style at all. Um, but what it did was it helped me make it even better. And so I found other things that I can cooperate in that same style that I like to work in . And it was just a really neat idea. So don't be it. Don't be afraid once you start veering one way in your in your play time that ah, don't be afraid just to go chase that and and see where it leads. You know, um, one thing that I started doing a lot of recently in the spirit of exploring and trying different things I started doing, uh, woodworking and or woodcarving. I should said, do we were working too, but in terms of, like trying to apply my skills to a different medium, Ah would presented a whole lot, knew a lot of new challenges that I had never expected, and I had to really alter my illustration style to fit a specific medium. But in doing so, I've learned a lot about my style. And I've picked up some really cool tips and techniques that I normally, you know, whenever I wouldn't have done so did that in the same thing with, like, you know, like sometimes I'll notice that, you know, working in one color limits me as well and and helps me figure out, you know, like how I'm gonna tackle different things like textures and all that and and not to mention, you know, like working in three D. You know, maybe I this little elephant guy, you know, he's super detail, not amazing. But it forced me to look at this elephant every single perspective, every single angle, which was new for me and helped me learn more about the anatomy of an elephant or in animals in general. So your task for this step is to try applying your own skill set to a brand new medium, whatever that whatever your skill is, whatever your creative skill is applying to new medium and create one piece of art and doesn't have to be big. Just it could be. And it could be any medium. It just need to be something that you haven't used before and see how that goes for you and make sure to track down everything that you learned. 9. 8. Understand the Basics: my first art class in college was my drawing 101 class. And I remember it well, because the very first project that we had, I came in pretty cocky and not outwardly cocky. Just I thought, you know, I was a really good artist and ah, I thought for sure, I mean, I guess I'd never also had a critique, a real critique by a teacher and stand up front and talk about your art. And so I wasn't prepared for that either. But our first project was pen in ink, still life and ah, we're focusing on just lying work. And and I remember I chose or it could be, anything. So I chose a watermelon and this this pineapple And I put them, you know, on the table in front of me just right next to each other and started drawn it. And I added all this detail and I thought I did a fantastic job. It looks so good and, ah, that next day I went to turn it in and or put put it up on the wall, and we went and talked about, and I was the 1st 1 up, so I was like. All right, let's do this. Let's hear, Hear all the good words here All the praise about my pineapple and watermelon. And I remember my instructor, my drawing instructor. Uh, just hating it, not liking it all and ripped me apart in front of everybody. And, uh, it was on. I just I didn't I didn't get it until he went and explained, And he's like, You know, there's There's nothing here, it's it's lacking. There's no composition, you know? There's no real scale. Both fruits are exactly the same size pretty much And, um, does not does not know the shading, but does not necessarily coming from a specific direction. There's no perspective or, you know, just balance at all. It was just really nothing to it. It was just detailed fruit on. And, uh, it made me. And it made me think at first, you know, like how I could fix it. So I try to fix it. And this is what this is what I turned in. I was like, OK, well, I had some line zero quick and so there's some perspective. Hated it, but, um, despite all of that, I remember the what he had told me was is you need to go take. You should take a design. Classic graph design class. I wasn't sure if I should be offended and say like, you shouldn't go in this fine art thing or this illustration thing. You should definitely go to graphic design. Um, but for whatever the reasons was, he did that It was perfect for me because I'd never really fully grasped the principles and elements of design and ah, I needed I needed that. And ah, and to really take my work to a new level to be able to communicate on a new level, because before I was doing just straight fine art, which was awesome and great, But I wanted to get into one. I wanted to communicate with my art, and, uh, and even even if I was doing fine art, my finer, you can tell, was lacking because I didn't know these things. And so, um, having that helps you communicate whatever your idea is, whether it's just, you know, a painting or a photo. And it's just it's just a beautiful piece of art that knowing how to compose that and, uh, or trying to communicate a specific thing to an audience or a client and ah, learning graphic design for me. Help Because I understood. I got to learn these these basic elements. So as creators, as artists, these things, these are things that you should really be you should know, and And if you don't know him, take the time to to study them. So just, you know, simple review. I'm not going to go through each one or I'll leave you a, uh, I'll leave you a little sheet that you can download to That has all these with the definitions. But you know, the basic design principles our balance pattern, repetition, proportion, rhythm, variety, unity, movement and emphasis. And I'm sure you know it depends on who you're asking. But senators will have, ah, wonder one or two mawr or a few less. But then those of the main ones, those ones that that I that I remembered and also the elements of design, line, color, shape, space, texture, typography, scale, balance and harmony. So these are amazing tools out to take your own concepts and apply your style to something that works and communicates in a compelling way. You know, it's like speaking. Ah, whole new. For me, it was like learning to speak a new language, you know, understanding that I could truly communicate with the art that I was making. And it resonated with people in the way that I was intending, which was which was awesome. And for you. So you know, Look, look at these. These principles, these elements make sure that you know them. And I got lots of people who asked me if they should. You know, where we're not in college. You are asking if they should go to college because, you know, they they feel it's all about your portfolio. And unless you're super super motivated, I mean you There's a lot of things I learned in college, like, you know, the like, these things, these principles and elements. And I learned them throughout all different mediums. In different I took watercolor classes and painting classes and sculpting classes and all these different types of things. Not to mention every other thing about creative writing and on taking history classes and all these different things that I had to take that really rounded out my talents as a creative. So aside from all that understanding these principles super important, and I'll leave you lists that you can. You can take those and study those. But your task is to create a project focusing on two of those design elements the line color, shape, space, texture, typography, scale, balance, harmony. Picked two of them and create a, uh, and create a project with just focusing piece of art or whatever, focusing with just those with two elements. And then, of course, if you you know, aren't familiar as familiar with these, then try doing one project or one little art project for each of those elements. Remember doing that in school, on it being the eye opening and really helpful toe understanding when you're actually doing it. So, uh, try it out and see I like it. 10. 9. Be a Student: Well, this one's gonna be pretty easy. You guys are students in your here, so you're already winning and doing this one. So I don't think I need to push too hard on why it's important to be a student. But in order to get better, you obviously have to be a student of your own craft. But it's also important to be a student of everything else and having interests outside of your own craft within your craft. Like I love my learning my own. Ah, you know the history of my own profession, which is graphic design and illustration I love. I love learning about that because it helps me understand what why things were made the way they were, what problems that they solve. Maybe there's problems that I'm trying to solve Right now. I can look back and see how they've sold them. I don't need toe, you know, start from scratch and reinvent the wheel. You know, there's, ah, there's lots to be learned from those who came before us. You know a lot of things to that we do for pure aesthetics, or we think it's a cool style. There was actual reason for doing it before in that process of how they came to the solution can help us with some of the problems that we're having. The things that we're trying to look for solutions for so but at the same time, you know, you can learn and learn and learn and learn about your craft, which is amazing. When I was in school, I did that all the time. All the books I had were just great or design books. I was just, you know, completely enveloped in the design world. But after I left ah, it was important that I sprinkled in lots of different things because, you know, you're not going to get projects just about graph as a graphic designer recommended. Get just projects about graphic design I'm gonna get projects about. So I was, for example, I worked at a place called Call in five and that we did infographics and I mean I was learning about fracking was learning about celebrities. Unfortunately, I was learning about how to make aluminum how they got water and remote towns in Nepal. You know, all sorts I had How toe Explain what? This nude, how this new jet engine work that Fergie, you know, all these different things that were I was trying to learn had nothing to do with graphic design. But it still had everything to do with my craft because, you know I had I had to understand that to solve the problem and I had to research it and understand it. So being fascinated by lots of things can really, really help you and help your understanding and execution of whatever craft our whatever skill you have creatively. So look for opportunities to continue learn if you're going out and going to an art show. Don't always go to our shows about your own craft. Go by others you know and and learn and see how they solve problems on their own. I love watching cooking shows. I love watching cooking shows because especially, there's there's there's one that I love because it goes into the background of the chef and it shows how they became, how they've you know, incorporated or created their own style of food within their own industry and which is really strange to me because, you know, it's like, yeah, there's a whole new They do the same things that I do in mind, but with a whole different, you know, medium, they have the room, you know, problems and things. So, um, be a student and continue to learn. Learn about your own craft and learn about everything else. Your task for this step is to replicate a piece of famous artwork. I did this in my intro to illustrator classes, the main project, and it was super successful because on Die Do this. A lot in my in my own studies is I'll take a piece and I'll tryto reap recreated so that I could see how it was made. Now I don't have to recreate with the exact same tools that they did. That would also be very beneficial, but also like, I'll take something I saw printed and I'll I will re created in Illustrator, for example Ah, or photo shop in the tools that I use so you can do the same for yourself. But find something. Find a piece of art that you're drawn to and try to replicate it and see if you can't take notes on on, learn a few things about how it was made and maybe do some research for bonus points. I would research and find out. You know why it was made and how they made it, and be able to take that all that you learn and apply about later to your own style. But I often do that. Mimic other artists just for the second don't share it. It's just for the sake of of learning and ah and ah, so make sure you don't go sharing it places saying It's your own. Just try replicating it. 11. 10. Address Your Weaknesses: Well, I appreciate you guys opening this one because I thought, you know, many people would see address your weaknesses, be like, Well, yeah, of course, me to address our weaknesses. But the thing is how you know, it's obvious that we have to take care of these weaknesses. But how you know, it's we don't we look for every way that we can t get around these things because it's just it's time consuming. It's hard, It's uncomfortable, You know, For the longest time I drew all of my tall, skinny legged animals like horses or zebras or draft, I always drew them in tall grass. They all were in the Serengeti with tall grass because I didn't want to draw their legs. They were those weird, Nobby things that I just couldn't quite get right. It always looked weird. And ah, that was something I was masking. Ah, that was masking the real problem, and I got away with it. But it didn't make me a better artist until I addressed those, and I'm fully aware of the fact that it's hard to address them. So the way that I've done it is I will I will look for an opportunity. Well, you have that experimenting in fun time playtime that I've mentioned before. You can use that to do it or doing to practice it or in all your projects. Just try to sneak in that weakness that you have tried to sneak it into each one of your projects, just even though there's a little bit like just showing. Maybe you have all the terrible drawing hands and you know, a lot of us do this, but we'll, you know we'll do the putting behind their back thing or we'll have him folding their arms . You can't see their hands or it's in their hair or in their pockets. You know, we have all of these things air. Give them something else to do with their hands. We don't want to show hands. Were you just making little ball hands? But ah, you know, if that's your problem, and then make sure you say you forced yourself say Okay, I'm gonna draw one hand in here like maybe the guy's hands in the other pocket and you're showing one hand and all the rest of characters on of hands, but you show that one and it forces you to start getting a little bit uncomfortable, but you're addressing in your practicing you know whether whether it feels like it or not, you're practicing because you're trying to solve that problem, and you're working on it so slowly integrate your weaknesses into your projects until you feel more comfortable to do bigger projects with them. And I promise, if you do that, you're going to start seeing ah, much. You know, you're going to see yourself growing a lot faster than you thought you ever would. And maybe you'll start trimming that. That grass down is showing those legs like like I started doing with my animals. But yeah, like, I think the biggest thing that goes into this is, you know, nothing can replace mileage. Nothing you just have to put in the time. And if you're looking for every which way to, you know, to go other than putting in the time to make it make it happen is you know, you're not gonna you're not going to change it all. So one thing that I did to address my besides, you know, integrating Trento slowly integrate my weaknesses into my work. Was I created a thing like an accountability project, and you guys probably heard of these like drawing. I did this for 100 days right at this for 30 days, and and, uh, they they kind of they tracked their progress, but that's basically what I did. So I created a tumbler page, and I made. It was for care was a character challenge. I didn't feel comfortable really, with my character design, and I knew I wanted to do Children's books and other things related for kids stuff, and I just love working with characters. But I didn't feel super again. It wasn't what I went to school for, so I didn't. I didn't really learn that I didn't learn the process of creating characters, so it was something that I feel like I need to work on. And I created this thing called The Character Challenge, and I was just challenging myself to do one character in a new style every single day, and sometimes it took me five hours and sometimes it took me 10 minutes. It was just depending on the day, and I had to stay up late some nights to finish it, but I was adamant that I was gonna practice it and do it and that thing in doing that, it really, really helped. I was able to. I was really able to to grow and understand character a little bit better. I didn't like, didn't like I said them in different styles so that it helped me really find something that I could attach to. And like I said, and previously, you know, is something that helped me learn my own style as well. So there you have it. That is your that's your task. Your task is to start a 30 day. Now we'll start, I'll say 30 day and you can go longer if you like. I probably recommend even going longer, but starting a 30 day account accountability project. So pick something that you want to work on, some some weakness of yours or something that you just want to get better at and try to address it every single day in some way, shape or form. So if it's a little for me, it was just a little character. Some people like to do types, and people like to take certain types of photos to paint different things. Pick a letter that they want toe illustrate that are getting the care they wanna, you know, letter for lettering. But, um, pick with that, whatever that is, and then and then and then hold yourself accountable. Like I said, with same with your goals, hold yourself accountable by sharing it with the world and making sure everybody knows. You know, that's what you're doing so they can expect to see it, and it helps you keep yourself accountable and make it happen.