Live Encore: Illustrate Your Personal Mission Statement | Andrea Pippins | Skillshare

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Live Encore: Illustrate Your Personal Mission Statement

teacher avatar Andrea Pippins, Designer & Illustrator

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Getting Started


    • 3.

      Finding Inspiration


    • 4.

      Writing Your Mission


    • 5.

      Making Your Message


    • 6.

      Starting Your Sketch


    • 7.



    • 8.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

Create illustrations that share a bigger message alongside visual activist Andrea Pippins.

Andrea Pippins has always aimed to convey inspiring and empowering messages through her illustration work. In this class—recorded using Zoom and featuring participation from the Skillshare community—she’ll share how to create an illustration based on a message that inspires you. 

Throughout the 30-minute class, you’ll work alongside Andrea to:

  • Come up with a personal mission statement that can guide your creative work
  • Create a mood board of ideas for sharing that message with imagery and color
  • Work on a final illustration that combines text and imagery to share your message with the world

Perfect for illustrators of all levels, you can follow along using whatever drawing materials you prefer or even work digitally with an iPad and Procreate. You’ll finish class with a deeper understanding of what you care about as a creative and an inspiring illustration to remind you of your message every day.


While we couldn't respond to every question during the session, we'd love to hear from you—please use the class Discussion board to share your questions and feedback.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Andrea Pippins

Designer & Illustrator


Andrea Pippins is an illustrator, designer, and author who has been featured in O: The Oprah Magazine, Family Circle, The Huffington Post, Bustle, and more. She has done work with brands such as Free People, Lincoln Center, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Andrea is the author of I Love My Hair, a coloring book featuring her illustrations celebrating various hairstyles and textures, and Becoming Me, for young women to color, doodle, and brainstorm their way to a creative life.

Andrea produces artwork with a mission to create what she wants to see and a vision to empower women and girls of color and people in underserved communities with visual tools to own and tell their own stories.

Illustration Credit: Andrea Pippins

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Level: All Levels

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1. Introduction: [MUSIC] I love that image is power and I love using that power in my illustrations to create a captivating image. My name is Andrea Pippins and I work as an illustrator, author, and designer. You may have seen my work in children's books such as Young, Gifted and Black, Step Into Your Power, and Who Will You Be? Today's live is about creating a mood board and taking that inspiration into an illustration based on a message that inspires you and hopefully inspires others. I chose this topic for my class because this is something that really drives my work. It's important for me to share or infuse my work with messages and I wanted to share that inspiration and that idea with you. I hope students take away from this Skillshare live, a mood board for their work, a creative mission statement, and a sketch that is inspired by the message. Thanks for watching my Skillshare live class recorded with participation from the Skillshare community. Something to keep in mind, this class was recorded live and I got to interact with the audience as I was working. Let's get started. [MUSIC] 2. Getting Started: Hey everyone. My name is Ali. I'm an associate producer here on the originals team at Skillshare. Today we are joined by Andrea Pippins to create a mood board for your message. She's live from Sweden and we're so excited to have her. Will you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do? Yes. Thank you for having me. Hello everyone. I am an illustrator, author, artist, and I mainly focus on children's books, but I do a lot of illustration and editorial for campaigns and brand collaborations. That's in a nutshell what I do. Awesome, I love it. Then so what are we going to do today? Today we're going to talk about incorporating a message in your artwork. I want to show a little bit about my process, how I incorporate things that I believe in, things that I align with and passionate about into my art but thinking about using a mood board to inspire that piece, and also talking about creating a creative mission statement. Creative mission statement. I feel like that is so useful, not even just for creativity, just for life to have a personal mission statement. But what can students expect to come out of this class with? Three main things. One, maybe some notes on creating that mission statement. Also a mood board and if there's time, some sketches or even just some little doodles for the inspiration for the semester that you're creating. Awesome. What materials will students need to follow along today? I think just a pen or pencil and paper. Then if you have any other materials that you feel more comfortable using like paint or markers or crayons or something like that to do the actual sketch, that could be great too. 3. Finding Inspiration: Why having a message in your art, why is it something that I like to do? I like to create captivating images that are going to share a message, that are going to educate, hopefully inspire, and share an idea that I really feel passionate about. I understand the image is power. When we look at things online, on social media, and the news, the thing that captivates us first is the image itself before even reading the caption or any texts that accompany that image. I'm going to utilize that power to share things that I really feel passionate about. There are three artists who I think encapsulate this idea really well, and I tried to emulate their work in so many ways. The first one is Corita Kent. She was an educator, a social justice advocate, an artist, and she was always trying to infuse her work with ideas about love and hope, faith. She spoke out against the Vietnam War. She's very much thinking about the Civil Rights Movement when she was creating her work. I love looking to see how she does that, while also incorporating beautiful colors, graphics, and text. Emory Douglas is another person that I am always looking to. He was the official minister of culture for the Black Panthers, also artist illustrator. I just love how he created these graphics that spoke to the injustices that were happening within the community, but in a very graphic, powerful way. You've seen a lot of, I guess, references to his work in my work, it's my way of paying homage to him, with the protest buttons that he has on his figures. I always incorporate that in my work in some way, and that's my way of just saying, I see you, Emory Douglas. Then Luba Lukova. She is an artist, illustrator, graphic designer, and she's always incorporating ideas of what's happening in the world in her work. I'm really inspired by the way she uses minimal color in very simple ways just to get this message across. These are three people who I think really hold this concept of visual activist. I try to incorporate that same thinking and bringing messages to my work. 4. Writing Your Mission: I created a creative mission statement if you will, for my work. This is basically a guideline for the way that I approach my projects and also what I say yes and no to. You can see our mission is to create vibrant and celebratory images that highlight stories often overlooked and empower women and girls to be fully who they are by nurturing their creative and wellness practices. I highlighted vibrant, celebratory, and empower because those are the three things that I'm always going to incorporate in my work in some way. Vibrant, bold, delicious candy colors, very important to me to try to capture somebody's attention. It's going to be celebratory. You're going to see wings and crowns, things around a figure, and then empowering in some ways. So the message itself is going to be talking about how do you speak for yourself or how do you live your day-to-day life as a person who is empowered. These are just some of the questions. I'm not going to spend too much time on writing a mission statement, but these are some of the questions that I think about when I was starting to develop this mission statement. Just brainstorming a lot of words, thinking about the things that I wanted to say. What do I believe? What are my values? What is the visual language that I'm already using? Sometimes we already are doing the things that we are saying that we want to do. So looking at what we have and then going back, looking at the colors that we used, the stories that we are interested in talking about, what's already happening and how can we make it more focused in those areas? Then of course, who am I speaking to? Who's the audience that I'm going to always create for? Just some examples of what that looks like. These are some images from Step Into Your Power. This is for girls 12 and up. Just this idea of using your voice, speaking up for yourself, really reflecting and figuring out who you are. It is a resource for girls to do that written by Jamia Wilson. There's those bright colors and then also that empowering message. Young Gifted and Black, highlighting voices that are often overlooked. A lot of people in this book people know. But there were a lot of people that I didn't know about when I was doing the illustrations for this. Then also thinking about again, celebratory. You see the crowns, you see the wings, you see bolt, you see energy. It's really just vibrant and filled with power which is always willing to try and to incorporate in my illustrations. 5. Making Your Message: Let's talk about making your message. I have a downloadable item that was in the register page. I'm not sure if everyone had access to that yet. That's okay if you didn't download it. You can just get a piece of paper and pen or pencil and you can just write down things as we go along. This gives you a guide of what I do in my process. When I am thinking about a message or an idea, topic, I'll write that down and then start jotting some ideas based on that direction. At the top here it just says, what do you want to say in your drawing? Write a short phrase. You write your message. What I try to do is to keep it in a few words. In my case, I try to do 3-4 words, and then writing some words that relate to that message. My message is dream big dreams. I'm really excited about getting people to think bigger than anything that they can imagine and believing that you can do these things. What are the words that relate to that for me? I think about energy, I think about power, this idea of flying, people can't necessarily fly, but what does it look like if we can fly, believing, imagine. All these are some of the words that I would think about that relates to this message and then could possibly be incorporated into the illustration itself. Then some images that relate to this message. Thought bubbles, when I think of dreaming, I think of shooting stars in the sky, clouds. We tend to dream at night, but then also shooting for the sun. The sun is this thing that's far away. What does that look like? These are images that I could potentially use in the illustration as well. Then what's the vibe? What's the feeling that you want to ingest or infuse into this illustration? What do you want people to feel when they are engaging with this drawing? Is it airy, vibrant, inspiring? What does that look like? I think that really informs the color too. If it's airy, maybe it's light blue. You're thinking about the sky with relation to dreams. For me, orange represents action and energy. That's something that could be incorporated. This is not steadfast. This is just a baseline of brainstorming anything can happen and then you use this as a guide to inform the next stage. This is my mood board for dream big dreams. You can see some things starting to develop here in terms of some patterns. The colors, just like this light blue that's happening. Maybe my mind just goes to these colors because I was already starting to think about it with my form that I filled in for the colors. Then there's a moon, there's a person dreaming. I typically don't incorporate other people's illustrations in my work. That's a rule of thumb for me. But in this case, I really liked how the children were seen in relation to these images because when I'm thinking big dreams, I'm thinking something's really big and grandiose. I loved how, in this case, this child in this figure is standing here and it's like this big, huge mirror or graphic behind him. The same thing with this text, shine on. I'm thinking more of that relationship of the figure to the art and less about the art itself. The Danny lines seeds floating away. These balloons just make me think joyful and fun. Is that something I can bring into this illustration? Then just started to build this palette of colors here in relation to what I'm seeing consistently in the photos. 6. Starting Your Sketch: Now we have these words, we have the mood board for inspiration, so I thought we could do a little bit of drawing to just see how this all ties together, so I'm going to share my iPad screen. I already have here a sketch that I did in pencil, which I typically do. I prefer to sketch everything in pencil first and then maybe I'll scan it in or I'll take a picture to bring it into my iPad. You could see here this is just a rough idea of what I'm going to draw. But I will turn off that. I think I'm just going to freehand it here. I have my palette at the top. I just did a screenshot of the palette that I created and I'm going to turn one of these off. Generally what I do is, I just start with my main message in the center. Someone would like to know what tool or software you use to compile the mood board. Karla would like to know. I usually use just Photoshop. I'll collect all of my images and then bring them in there to make a nice layout with everything together in addition to the color palette. I'm going to start with my message, so "dream big dreams" [MUSIC]. Since the word 'big' means big I want to make it huge. I love having a dark background, I feel like colors always pop so much better, so I use dark backgrounds a lot. 'Dreams' on the bottom. I think I'm going to do a different kind of text. [MUSIC] Make some adjustments here. [MUSIC] Sometimes the colors aren't even what I want them to be, or how I want them to be applied yet, it's just to get an idea of the layout first and then I can go back and add colors that I needed. 'Dream big dreams'. I'm going to add another layer underneath for the shape that I want this text to be in. I think I wanted to use this bright, this is like this acid yellow that I feel like I always use in my work. All right. I'm going to just combine these. One of the words that was on my list was 'believe', so this idea of believing first. Believe me, I can achieve this thing, so I want to incorporate that into the messaging of my illustration. Usually what I'll do is go around the image and apply those words and messages and then I'll go back in and add little decorative elements. Also, Francis says that they are very impressed by the colors. One hundred percent found through mood board though. Is that where you found the colors? Yes. I pulled those colors from the mood board, absolutely. I'll show you in the finished piece that I actually created, that this reddish color is like a reddish pink. I didn't love it, so I changed it to a more orangey color. The mood board is a starting place, but you can always go in and make alterations based on your preferences, it's not solidified once you make that mood board basically. I didn't talk about how I choose my colors really. I always have a dark color, because I'm thinking about that being the background and then I'll have maybe 2-3 colors that will operate together, next to each other side-by-side on top of that ground and then I'll have a light color, so a pastely color to offset those really vibrant bold colors. Francis would also like to know what brushes do you use here? This is my go-to, its the blackburn. I like how it looks like my drawing tool basically, like the pen that I usually use. I'm really an analogue person, I don't use Procreate that much. I'm starting to pick it up here and there for client projects, or even for book projects. I don't know, mainly because I really like to do things in pen and pencil first before I hop onto the computer. I feel like the computer with its colors and everything being so flashy just really distracts me, so I like to really get the idea down first before I hop onto anything digital. We talked about wings. There are wings on my list. [MUSIC] I'm going to go ahead and add some decorative elements now. I really love limited color palettes. It's rare that you'll see me use a ton of colors, I try to stay within five. Five is usually a lot for me. I just like to be able to think about how many different ways can I use this color or these colors together. Julie wants to know, do you always start at the center and then add to the composition organically or do you ever map out the composition first? I generally start from the center, but then I do always have a sketch so things can change or move around, but usually I do start with the center and work my way out towards the edges. What I think is really fun is, a message doesn't always have to be serious, it doesn't always have to be something that's really deep and thought-provoking, it could be as simple as 'brush your teeth' or 'take a nap'. I think those are really great ways to think about how do you show that in an illustrative way that's fun and captivating. If it looks a little close here, then move this over, make it smaller. I'm just adding some energy lines and I love bursts of energy too, so let me make one here. There was no clouds in the mood board and there were balloons. I want to add some, but they won't be literal balloons, maybe some big circles. Here's some of our little decorative elements. I can go back and mess with this main message in the middle so, 'dream big dreams'. For now, I'll keep the color as is, but maybe 'big' can be emphasized a little bit more giving it some width, some depth. Now we can add a little squiggle here, it could be in a different color, it's color white. I think I'll just add one more thing and then we can see if anyone has any questions and I can show the title Illustration I created. I have the word 'fly'. I also like to put speech bubbles in my drawings. This is what it would look like in the end based on that pencil sketch that I'd had done. Cool. Then you can see that red changed a little bit, so I am really biased, I don't use a lot of red in my work, so its probably why I needed to change it to a little bit more of an orange color, orangey red. That's so cool. You had that outlined before, do you stick to that outline, does it change once you get to the end? Do you know you're finished because it looks like the outline, or do you just keep playing until you have some internal cue that your done? I keep playing until I have an internal cue, I have to. This is done. Yes, that's such a great question, because you could see how it changed a little bit. Let me see if I turn this off we can see where it aligns. The text might change. In this case, before I was repeating dream big, just like pounding on that message even more, but then I decided to change the text a little bit, so instead of it saying 'dream big every time' I have, 'imagine your life', 'believe', 'do', so to your question, yes. I go in and think, it needs a little bit something else, something has to change, different wording and I'll give myself the liberty to do that beyond the sketch. 7. Q&A: We've gone through the project, it looks so great. Now is the time let's take some questions from the audience. Elana would like to know, how did you discover what signature motifs are images which show up in your work? That really goes in line with the idea of me wanting to celebrate the figures, the message, whatever it is in my image, I want to highlight it, celebrate it in some ways. That's why I'm using those crowns and the wings, the burst, energy power. That's something that's always going to show up. It became signifier of my work because it's something that I always use, they're my go-to pieces or my visual language. That's your signature, language go to pieces? Is color a part of that too? Because you said you don't like reds. But is there a color that's always in there? Yeah. That ascites yellow is my go-to. I feel like maybe 90 percent of the time it's in my work so I try to bring it in in some way. Awesome. Just would like to know how did you get discovered as an artist, your work is so inspiring, playful. Thank you. Who discovered? Well, I would say for me, because I started out as a graphic designer. I was working as a designer for many years and was teaching, but always doing illustration on the side and that was the thing. I was always making art and just making until an opportunity came where I could have a book published and I think that's when things started to get the ball rolling in essence. But it was just doing the work and doing it because I loved doing it. There were personal products that I would do on the side or freelance work while I was working my full-time job and I would say my advice to anyone is just keep doing the work and keep doing it for the right reasons and that right reason is because you want to do it, because you have something that you want to say and share. Not necessarily because of money or be famous or to get more followers, is just because you want to do it and then things will fall into place, the things that are important to you, the things that will allow you to shine, those things will come. Beautiful and so true. Could you share about how your style has developed over time and how do you refresh your style over time? Yes. Well, the thing is, because my background is in graphic design, I feel like I approached my illustration products from a design perspective. I usually allowed the brief to guide what that style would be. If you look at the breadth of my work, you would see several different styles. But there are a few things that tied together like the color, maybe some of these icons. I think it's hard for me to say because it evolves based on the project in some way. But I am in a place right now where I do have this signature look and thinking about what does it look like moving forward as I start to pursue some other projects. Just trying to challenge myself and see how do I evolve this really graphic look into something that's maybe more layered. I love patterns. How do I incorporate that a little bit more? That would just be me playing, just making more time to play in my own personal work to make that happen. Do you feel like that play that you designate is something you use for creative blocks or anything like that? You feel like it's so visual, so creative, there has to be moments where maybe it's not as flowy for lack of a better word than other times. Yeah. I haven't been able to play as much as I'd like. But when I do play, that is when things open up. When I feel things do flow and it does feel like I'm evolving my work. But right now because the work is coming and I have limited time, I'm going into my go-to toolbox. I have these things that I do that I know that I can do quickly. That keeps me in the same vein of the work I'm doing now. But hopefully, I can make time to play so that I do branch out a little bit more. That toolbox you said that you have, how long do you feel it's like to develop that? I feel like that's especially for working artists, that's such a really great thing to have probably when you get work and you don't really have the time. Like you said, it's really just like let yourself play or like set aside this time. You just know that these are the things you're good at that you know how to produce well. You know what? I think it goes back to that mission statement. These are the things that I want to say and this is the way that I like to save them. That is my baseline. It's my guideline for what I'm going to create. Then from there, it can shift and change a little bit, but I want it to be celebratory. This is the project that I'm going to say yes to because of that and then I can use these different elements in that way. The mission statement makes sense. That's the touchpoint that everything grows out of so you always know what to hit back on. Has it changed much since you set it for yourself the mission statement? Does it ever fluctuate in one way or another? I think it changed in terms of the products that I accept, the ones that I feel like are in alignment with what I want to create and who I am as an artist. Whereas in the beginning, I was saying yes to a lot of things because I didn't know and I think that's important for people who are just starting out in their career or who are professionals young artists, students. You have to say yes before you can understand what your nos are. Just figuring out, does this brand make sense for me? Does this is work make sense for me? It's just trial and error and seeing what works. 8. Final Thoughts: Thank you so much Andrea for coming through and really just guiding us through this really beautiful exercise and showing us your journey and sharing your vision. Do you have any closing thoughts or final thoughts to share with students as they take off and create their own reports? The only thing I can say and share is just keep going. I think all of us whether we consider ourselves an artist or not, we need to have some form of creative expression whether visual, whether it's singing, whatever it is that fills you up, make time to do that every single day especially during these times. We got to do it.