I've been thinking about process and development a lot in my work lately.
A couple months ago, I had my portfolio reviewed by Charles Hively (Art Director and Publisher of 3x3 Magazine). His great professional feedback, and just having a fresh eye look at my work, was a re-energizing experience for me. I think it's easy for anyone to lose sight of their work and the direction it's going if there's never a moment to reflect on it or consider it from a more objective angle. I think for me especially—since I juggle a creative full-time job where I design and art direct illustrators every day—what I am doing in my own work can feel clouded and even over-influenced by what I am constantly surrounded by. And the pressure I put on myself by comparing what I do to what I see, and trying to "speed up" to get to where I really want to be in my career, has created a lot of burn out and frustration for me.
Mr. Hively's feedback suggested that I spend (a lot of) time figuring out how to allow more of my personal voice to shine through, as any artist has to do to really improve: Try new mediums, palettes, and/or subject matter; Study non-illustration & design work; Look at European illustration; Tap into the things that most interest & inspire me on a personal level—and let all these influences find their appropriate place in my work until that day when I "get goosebumps" because I'll just know I'll have found that really special thing in my work that sets it apart from everything else.
I agree that growth comes from stepping out of the "safe" zone, and I've been trying to slow down in a way —thinking less about "finished pieces" when I make new work and get more involved in my process. I took advantage of the extra time away from the office grind this long holiday weekend to experiment a bit with medium and process.
I love music and also love illustrating & hand-lettering quotes that inspire me. These words by Bilie Holiday seemed especially fitting for the things I'm thinking about at the moment, so I decided to revisit this drawing I'd done awhile back. Here's some shots of my process: