I wanted to break into the children’s book illustration field and attended conferences, talks, extension classes.
A top editor of a top publisher once spoke and asked if anyone had any illustrations…I was the only one with a portfolio and she went through it with the audience. One curious thing happened, she looked at one drawing and said, “ugh, eyelashes, never draw eyelashes!”
I realized there was a certain illustration style…and checked out the current top illustrators. Most children’s eyes were teeny, mostly just dots. My drawings had big eyes. It still seems true as I checked out current styles…
I also noticed many illustration seem to be all design with the figures and storyline almost unrecognizable. See illustrations.
QUESTION: Does it make sense to study current styles and try to fit in somewhere?
I think you most definitely have to aware of the market you are trying to break into. I used to go to the book store every week and just look at the young adult book covers to see what was getting published.
However picture books are completely different in my opinion. There is such a wide variety of styles and topics. I think you would be chasing that fast moving rabbit if you tried to mimic certain design trends. Especially small details like eyes.
Yes be aware of what’s out there, however do what you love. Work to your strengths. That is what will make you different and authentic.
I basically only knew how to paint realistically so for me my style was so not going to be changed by design trends in the industry.
If you have a follow up question please ask it. I can address in next weeks podcast.
Remember it’s just that one editor’s opinion. You have such a strong powerful style. Keep refining and maturing it.