No creative produces perfect work all the time. Behold my cringe!

For the most part, I have shared every single piece of artwork I have created since I launched this blog in March. Whether it’s the silly little doodles I make for my life posts, the fan art I create to complement books, tv shows, and movies discussions in my stories posts, or the random illustrations I feature in my art posts – it’s pretty much all there and, generally speaking, I love and am proud of it all. That being said, every artist – whether illustrator or poet or author or photographer – has moments where the work they create causes cringe and there has been one set of illustrations I have hid from you all since I launched this blog because… yikes.

You see, when my blog launched in March, I got really excited about creating and sort of became obsessed with the desire to doodle all the time. I almost want to say in a way it became more about creating a certain quantity of illustrations for me rather than a certain quality because I knew my work would never be as good as anyone else’s and I just wanted to have a lot of it done so that I would never run out of things to share here. And that’s fine, this is my blog and I can do what I want. But the same thing happened as I mentioned in my thoughts on participating in an Instagram challenge: I realized I don’t want to create just for the sake of creating because my enjoyment wavers and the end results can sometimes be a bit scary.

So today, in the sake of transparency and to encourage any creatives out there that they are not alone in their bad days, I thought I would share a collection of illustrations that I originally refused to post on the blog because I disliked them so much.

Behold my cringe (Sports Illustrated 2017 Swimsuit edition)!

Sports Illustrated 2017 Swimsuit Edition Illustration || Photo of Girl Drinking from Coconut (154) || illustrated by Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Ref: Photograph from the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit ed 2017, p. 154

Sports Illustrated 2017 Swimsuit Edition Illustration || Photo by James Macari (28) || illustrated by Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Ref: Photograph by James Macari from the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit ed 2017, p. 28

Sports Illustrated 2017 Swimsuit Edition Illustration || Photo by Emmanuelle Hauguel (13) || illustrated by Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Ref: Photograph by Emmanuelle Hauguel from the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit ed 2017, p. 13

Sports Illustrated 2017 Swimsuit Edition Illustration || Photo of Ashley Graham's profile (43) || illustrated by Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Ref: Photograph of Ashley Graham from the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit ed 2017, p. 43

Sports Illustrated 2017 Swimsuit Edition Illustration || Aly Raisman (90) || illustrated by Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Ref: Photograph of Aly Raisman from the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit ed 2017, p. 90

Sports Illustrated 2017 Swimsuit Edition Illustration || Photo by Roven Afanador (9) || illustrated by Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Ref: Photograph by Roven Afanadaor from the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit ed 2017, p. 9.

Sports Illustrated 2017 Swimsuit Edition Illustration || Photo of Ashley Graham (39) || illustrated by Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Ref: Photograph of Ashley Graham from the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit ed 2017, p. 39

Sports Illustrated 2017 Swimsuit Edition Illustration || Serena Williams (136) || illustrated by Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Ref: Photograph of Serena Williams from the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit ed 2017, p. 136

Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to say these illustrations are the worst thing in the world. The potential for these to turn out great was definitely there (I especially like the Aly Raisman one), I just sort of got lost in the process.

For one thing, most of these heads are massive. I mentioned it in my Youtube video in which I talk about my current art process, but I seem to always lean towards making a massive head and tiny body on my illustrations to hide the fact that I’m not great with anatomy. And while not all of these are totally disproportionate, there are some (like Ashley Graham’s profile), where it looks like I was attempting to illustrate bobbleheads instead of models. Whoops.

On top of that, the colors are out of control. Since I have been mostly limited to my small collection of gel pens up to this point, I sort of felt like everything was a bit boring. While I originally created these images with just black outlines and thought I’d leave it like that (which would’ve been the right choice, haha), I ended up trying to make the images pop more by adding color to the swimsuits… and to the eyes… and to the lips. >.<

While pops of color are fun and I really like how I incorporate them in some my art (such as my doodletimewithkaroline images), it just seems so obvious to me that I had no direction for where I was going with the colors in these illustration. It was like once I added one thing, I felt like I needed to try and add eight more to balance it out and it ultimately just lead to scary looking demon girls who seem like they want to suck the soul from your body. (Or is it just me that sees that?)

But you know what? As much as these illustrations may make me cringe, they’re a part of the journey and I embrace them. It would’ve been very easy for me to rip these out of my sketchbook or to refuse to acknowledge that I ever created them, but I feel like that would be doing myself a disservice. Instead, I keep these illustrations to remind myself these things:

  • Bad days aren’t permanent. There will be times you take a wrong turn on your creative journey, where suddenly all you seem to create is crap and things just go terribly wrong. Don’t fret. Sometimes the only way to figure out the right and wrong in your work is by exploring both ends. Accept that this piece didn’t work out, take time to figure out why you love it and/or hate it to help you in the next step of your journey, and keep going.
  • Sometimes less is more. Don’t add to a piece just for the sake of adding. If you like it how it is, then leave it. You are not obligated to keep adding more color, words, filters, etc. to make it fit some imagined standard or expectation. Minimalism is a thing now. Feel free to embrace it.
  • Planning isn’t a sign of weakness. Give yourself permission to make multiple drafts, to plan things out, to explore different coloring and layout options, etc. A masterpiece is rarely created in one go and while it may seem like more work, it will help you feel more confident in your finished work.
  • You can always try again. If you create something that you think has potential but ultimately fell apart, don’t feel like it’s absolutely hopeless. You can always do it again. Take a little break first to shake off the frustrations you’re having with it and come back to it later. You may find you just weren’t ready for it yet.

And that last one? I think that will likely happen with me. I actually love the juxtaposition between these sexy swimsuit models and my silly cartoon illustrations. I want to try combining the two once again, and hopefully next time I’ll do them a bit more justice. Until then though, when I think of sexy swimsuit illustrations, I’ll think of this cringey attempts I did a couple of months ago – and that’s alright. All creatives have their times of struggle, this was just one of mine.

Okay, your turn! Tell me fellow creatives, how do you feel when your work comes out a cringey mess? Do you give up on it? Throw it away? Keep it as a reminder? Redo it over and over again until it’s right? And to anyone who wants to do creative stuff but feels like your work will never be good enough – give yourself a chance! Those who seem to have it all figured out still have bad days. The only difference is that we keep going! ❤

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It’s not considered failing when you decide an Instagram challenge is no longer for you.

If you’ve been involved in Instagram communities, you’ll know that there are usually multiple challenges running that you can participate in. For bookstagrammers there’s #grimdragon, for those with art journals there’s #ohjournaletc, for the art and lettering types there #dndchallenge – the list goes on and on.

These challenges are great for inspiring content and getting involved in communities, but they are what they claim to be: a challenge. And you know what I’ve decided? It’s not failing if you don’t finish these challenges. You can only post on certain days or give up after a week, it’s totally up to you. But as long as you gave it a go and took something away from the attempt, it’s not failing. You’re just succeeding in an unexpected way.

The Instagram Challenge I Joined

June 2017 #doodletimewithkaroline challenge prompts

As I haven’t taken Instagram seriously for a long time (and have only recently started transitioning my account into an art one), I decided a good way to try to get myself involved in the community would be to take part in a challenge. And since I follow the lovely Karoline Pietrowski on Instagram, I decided I’d join her #doodletimewithkaroline challenge.

She posted the prompts on June 1st and after a moment of hesitation I decided I was in. And for a week straight I would look at the prompt, find a reference in my many magazines to use, draw something up for the challenge, run outside with a couple of pieces of my mom’s scrapbook paper to lay underneath the illustration, take photos, edit the photos, and post them on Instagram.

I’m tired just typing all that out, so you can imagine how exhausting it was to do every. single. day. I mean, I did do two drawings a day once or twice to try to lighten the load and give myself a break, but really, it just felt like I was always rushing to produce something and in the end, I gave up after a week.

Before I get into that though, let’s celebrate the pieces I did complete. Here they are in all their glory (except my illustration for the suitcase prompt because I don’t like it as much, haha.)

June 2017 #doodletimewithkaroline challenge || Prompt: Shorts || Illustration by Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

#doodletimewithkaroline prompt || Day One: Shorts

June 2017 #doodletimewithkaroline challenge || Prompt: Suncream || Illustration by Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

#doodletimewithkaroline prompt || Day Two: Suncream

June 2017 #doodletimewithkaroline challenge || Prompt: Flip Flops || Illustration by Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

#doodletimewithkaroline prompt || Day Three: Flip-Flops

June 2017 #doodletimewithkaroline challenge || Prompt: Sunhat || Illustration by Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

#doodletimewithkaroline prompt || Day Four: Sunhat

June 2017 #doodletimewithkaroline challenge || Prompt: Watermelon || Illustration by Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

#doodletimewithkaroline prompt || Day Six: Watermelon

June 2017 #doodletimewithkaroline challenge || Prompt: Ice || Illustration by Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

#doodletimewithkaroline prompt || Day Seven: Ice

The Fails Successes of the Challenge

Once I realized I could no longer keep up with the #doodletimewithkaroline challenge, I’m not going to lie, I felt a bit like a failure. I was disappointed in myself for giving up after only a week (I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t try the #100daychallenge) and frustrated that I couldn’t figure out a way to make it work when there were others who managed to consistently contribute to the tag daily.

But then I realized I was just being ridiculous. A challenge is a challenge. Of course it’s not going to be easy. Of course everyone is going to have their own levels of success. And of course not being able to complete it from beginning to end doesn’t make me a failure: I still learned a lot even from the week I participated.

For one, I learned that hashtags and challenges like #doodletimewithkaroline are great for getting involved in a community. While Karoline herself didn’t really interact with those who posted in her tag (which I was a tad disappointed in, I’m not going to lie), other participants (including myself) interacted, which was nice. I was able to find some new artists to fall in love with (check out svnddlsnts‘s account! I love, love, love it.) and gained some followers along the way. As someone who is fairly new to the artist community, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out how to fit in, so I enjoyed the way this challenge opened the door for me.

I also learned how lovely it feels to see your post pop up in the “Top Posts” section of a hashtag. Since #doodletimewithkaroline isn’t a hugely popular challenge, there aren’t as many posts to compete with to get a top spot on the hashtag page. As a result, I was able to sneak up there a couple of times with my illustrations and it was a nice little boost knowing that my art was liked enough to make its way up there. It makes me want to find smaller hashtags to contribute to, ones in which my post won’t get immediately drowned behind 800 others.

June 2017 #doodletimewithkaroline challenge || Insta Top Posts for hashtag

Look, my flip-flop illustration made it in the #doodletimewithkaroline top posts section!

An unexpected but welcomed thing I took away from this challenge: putting slightly more effort into my pictures for Instagram can be fun! haha. I feel like I’m still definitely learning here and trying to figure out exactly how I want my art pictures to look, but I was really happy with how my photos turned out as a whole for this challenge. The very first day I went through my mom’s scrapbook papers and pulled out a handful that I thought complemented my colored pens and I really think the pops of color made my Instagram account a bit more engaging and fun. I’m not sure how I’ll work it out once I switch to markers (stay tuned!) but it gives me motivation to keep trying.

This challenge made me realize that content can be both an inspiration and a frustration. On the one hand, it was nice to have a prompt to turn to every day. For those days I had nothing in mind to create, it gave me something to work from. On the other hand, some prompts just left me feeling completely unmotivated. Towel, selfie stick, floating tyre? Don’t get me wrong, I can think of things to draw for those prompts.. they just don’t excite me. Trying to think of a way to work with some prompts felt more like chore than a challenge, which was one of the reasons why I felt like stopping was a successful choice.

(It also gave me content to use for my first YouTube video. You know, if you want to check it out and subscribe. Haha. Look at this effortless cross-promotion.)

And, lastly, I succeeded in learning that I don’t want to be forced to create every day. Daily challenges are great, but I think I would be a lot happier participating in a weekly or monthly challenge, especially if they involve certain prompts. Creating everyday doesn’t happen for me right now anyways, but when it does, I want to feel comfortable creating whatever I want and not obligated to use that time towards creating something based off someone else’s idea. I felt like I was losing my chance to create my own work while participating in this challenge, and I’m not about that, especially when pushing my imagination is something I’ve been really working on.

The TL;DR Instagram Challenge Conclusion

Instagram challenges are great, but don’t see completing them as the only solution for success. It can be discouraging not following through with it until the end, but if it’s not inspiring you or if it’s feeling like a chore you should give yourself permission to stop. And instead of focusing on what you missed, take a moment after each challenge to appreciate the successes of the challenge and what you’ve learned. You may be surprised how much you can take away, both about yourself and the community, after only a few days of participation.

Have you participated in any challenges on Instagram? Were you able to successfully complete them? Or were you like me, only able to find success in your failing? I’m curious to know your thoughts so please let me know what your experience has been like in the comments below! Also, if I were to ever do monthly themed challenges (similar how April was devoted to friendships), would you be interested in joining? It wouldn’t be drawing only – other forms of creative expression would be allowed as well (for all my writer friends out there). Just curious!

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In which I ruin my friendships by giving everyone big eyebrows

If you happen to follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that in April I decided I would deviate away from my normal Vogue magazine drawings to attempt my hand at illustrating some friends (tweet proof below for you slackers who missed it though lol, I just noticed the grammar mistake in it so I guess I’m the real slacker for not proofreading before sending it out):

After posting this tweet, every couple of days I would pull out my sketchbook and attempt to draw a picture of someone who I had talked to. It was my little attempt to show appreciation to some of my friends for being so great to me (definitely not all of them – if you don’t see yourself here it’s only because Dave visited in April and ruined my drawing mojo) and a way to challenge myself to move a little outside of my comfort zone. And today is the day I show those illustrations (and so find out if I have any friends left).

I know, that’s a bit dramatic. Surely I wouldn’t lose any friends over these illustrations? But I have to say, there has been a trend with the feedback for the ones I have shown so far (and this doesn’t include the Snapchat message from Kelley which mentioned a similar thing):

Whoops, I seem to have a thing for big eyebrows.

But hey, eyebrows have got a lot of attention lately, right? People draw them and feather them and all kinds of things. Surely my big eyebrow faces aren’t a bad drawing? And it’s not like I just limit them to friends: I even draw myself with these big things (they’re so big they’re even visible through my bangs in my drawings).

Illustrations of Friends || Self-portrait || by Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Haha, oh well. It is what it is. And like it or not, I can’t promise you these big eyebrow drawings are changing anytime soon. So any friends out there I haven’t drawn, the warning remains: if you never want to be illustrated with some big eyebrows by yours truly, stop talking to me or remove all selfies from the internet. Otherwise, who knows when my motivation for another friend month will appear and whether you’ll be next. Muhahaha.

And now, the drawings featuring some of my favorite people on the Internet (along with a few little notes about why they’re so great):

Friends || Kelley @ Oh, the Books! || Illustration by Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Kelley: Crazy cat lady, co-blogger from my Oh, the Books! days, ampersand lover, tarot reader, creative, unique, and best friend

Illustrations of Friends || Joséphine @ Word Revel || by Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Joséphine: blogger at Made of Mint, reader, sporty, photographer, super smart, and needs to bake something and send it to me

Friends || Inge @ Of Wonderland || Illustration by Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Inge: Blogger at Of Wonderland, Harry Potter and Disney fangirl, lover of sloths, advocate for mental health, writer, whimsical, supportive

Illustrations of Friends || Maraia || by Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Maraia: Guest blogger at Büechermonster, Bookish Games devotee, patient, understanding, another fool who fell for international love

Illustrations of Friends || Stacey @ Pretty Books || by Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Stacey: Blogger at Pretty Books, Tumblr all-star, traveler, caring, all around book person, one of the friends I miss the most from London

Friends || Iris @ Eat Train Read || Illustration by Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Iris: Blogger at Eat Train Read, blogging buddy!!!, book lover, exercise addict, hardworking, inspiring, reliable, and fun

Illustrations of Friends || Topaz @ Six Impossible Things || by Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Topaz: blogger at Six Impossible Things, poet, editor, actress, award-winner, peaceful, raw, magical, supportive, honest

Illustrations of Friends || Asiya @ Literary Head || by Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Asiya: blogger at Literary Head, writer, sass enthusiast, sneaky, fun, unique, caring, confetti spreader

Why Can't We Be Friends? || Victoria || Illustration by Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Victoria: An actual real-life friend, old co-worker, kid at heart, sunshine and patriotism, better at “girling” than I’ll ever be, a trooper

Illustrations of Friends || Sian @ Sian Blogs || by Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Sian: Blogger at Sian Blogs, newest internet friend (whether she knows it or not), creator of A Film Club, explorer, inspiring, honest, brave

For more detailed explanations of why I chose each friend, follow me on Instagram! I’ll be sharing one a day for the next week or two, talking about why I appreciate each person so much, and encouraging you to check them out. All the love for all my friends!

There you have it! A small glimpse into some of my friends, why I love them, and their very big brows (which are totally accurate, I don’t know what you’re talking about). If you see someone you don’t recognize, make sure to click the links in their caption to check out their twitter or blog. And let me know what you think of the drawings and if the thought of me drawing you terrifies you. You have to lie and say you love it even if you don’t, because that’s what friendships are for, right? haha. Also, how are we liking the attempts at putting more effort into photos and maybe doing flatlays? Yay or nay?

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Want more of my madness? Don’t forget you can follow me elsewhere:
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Or, if you’re interested in my last art post:
Growing and identifying as a creator

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