Key Steps in Illustration: Your own work

This exercise is quite different from the previous ones: I am asked to review my sketchbooks I have created for the course so far, and review my sketches and illustrations visually, and not necessarily in the context they were originally created. That way I ought to judge my artwork on its own, and analyse what I enjoy.

Until today, I have filled four DIN A4 sketchbooks for this course alone. In addition, I have added to several other sketchbooks, e.g. my travel sketchbooks, among others, since I started the course.

The first task for this exercise is to review my own work. I’ve created quite a bit of artwork since the beginning of the course, and looking through all sketchbooks and my learning log was quite interesting.

I’ve picked out a few examples of my work that I quite enjoy and will point out what I like about them:

I like the loose quality of the lines and waves, and the simplicity of the black-and-white visual that comes out of it. With this page in particular, I quite enjoy how the transparent paper mirrors the actual sketch. My initial idea when working on this project, was to create a lino print and make greeting cards of it, but I never got round to do it. kat-illustrates-sketchbook-files (16)

Some of my favourite sketches were the birds for the Museum Poster project. I not only like them as pencil sketches, but also to create the simplified versions with ink.

I like the pencil sketches of the flask and the different experiments with the tea cup. kat-illustrates-sketchbook-files (12)

I like the lino prints because every print turns out a bit differently. The texture of the prints are quite interesting, and I find it appealing that you can create originals by carving one – or a few – lino blocks.

kat-illustrates-sketchbook-files (1)

I enjoy the colour splash on this page. It is a great combination of different blues and reds, and I quite like the simplicity and on the left hand side the symmetry of it.  kat-illustrates-sketchbook-files (9)

I like this page because of the different lines and the different texture that is mixed together. kat-illustrates-sketchbook-files (11)

This is one of my favourite pages. I like the different positions and perspectives the musicians are displayed. Moreover, I like that the pencil’s pressure on the page varies. kat-illustrates-sketchbook-files (10)

This is one of my early sketchbook pages. I like it a lot because of its simple composition, and I am reminded of an outdoor catalogue. The colours and thin black outlines work well together. nor

I like this page because of the very abstract way the dog is depicted. I reminds me of Picasso’s drawings of animals that are available for sale as art prints at various furniture department stores. kat-illustrates-sketchbook-files (7)

My favourite pieces of finished artworks include my poster designs that I’ve created for Assignment 3 and for the Museum Exercise. I enjoyed working on these designs, and to me, they are quite finished designs, that work as posters but also as standalone artwork. I like the individual elements, e.g. birds, butterflies, flowers, but also the overall look of the posters.

As a second part of this exercise I ought to decide on one area for authorial practice where this illustration could be used, and have an artefact produced. I decided to go for something quite simple: a greeting card. I quite like sending and receiving greeting cards, and I believe this is a vast area for illustrators to work in with different occasions that need designs (birthdays, festivities, weddings, etc.).

I decided to use some of my bird illustrations I created for the museum poster exercise and design a greeting card “A Little Bird Told Me”. I added one bird to the front as well as some lettering, as well as a a middle and back page with different birds to the card. I have ordered the actual card with this design.

Bird Postcard (c) kat-illustrates
My very own greeting card design (front page)


I guess looking at areas on how to sell my artwork is something I have to look into further when pursuing the dream of becoming an illustrator. Besides greeting cards and postcards, there are many other areas that would work well for my illustrations, including notebooks, linen bags, phone cases, T-Shirts, art prints, and more. I do not yet have my own shop on Etsy or a similar platform, but am hoping that at some point I will be able to open one. I think I still have a way to go until I get there as I am still searching for my own style or expertise area and my ideas are not quite finished.

Key Learnings: 

  • I found this exercise fun because it allowed me to look at my coursework in a different way. I actually have created lots of artwork for this course, but have so far only considered it coursework. Of course, the indiviudal elements are my own work, and I can put them into a different context if I choose to.
  • Coming up with new ideas for these design elements was also quite good. I decided I wanted to create a postcard, and I needed to put some of my favourite elements (the birds) into a new setting, and come up with a wording that would make sense.
  • Reviewing my work was also hard in the sense that I often don’t like what I sketch or draw too much. I do have a couple of favourite pieces, which usually are the projects that I enjoyed most so far, and on which I spent a lot of time developing the artwork or the idea.
  • I guess, similar to when writing texts, it is difficult to judge your own work unbiased. That’s why I usually like to ask others for feedback when developing an idea. It is often the case that I like an idea, but others cannot understand what I’m getting at.
  • This whole course is about reflecting yourself and your artwork, and this is something I sometimes still struggle with. I find it difficult to explain all the details when creating artwork, and justifying the steps I take. Sometimes I would rather just create the artwork and let it speak for itself. I do understand, however, that the process also ought to include the relection because it helps make the artwork and future pieces better. It helps understand where I am at as an artist, and where I might want to go.

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