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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Have I found my art style yet?

One of the hardest things about illustrating again is attempting to figure out my “style”. I try not to think too much about it because I believe in many ways it can be counter-productive, but I would be lying if I said that part of me doesn’t want to be able to look at my work and see traces of consistency.

Of course, the funny thing is, oftentimes when I post my illustrations on the blog or on Instagram, my friends will respond and say “Your drawings are so you!” or “I can always recognize when one of your illustrations pops up in my feed.” How do they recognize my style when I don’t? To me, the illustrations I posted in my last art update, were sort of all over the place. Some had dark outlines, some had lines in their hair, some had (bad) coloring, etc. I mean, variation is great and I like each of those pieces for one reason or another, but to me it was still very obvious that I was just trying to get used to creating again.

I’m happy to say though that with this next batch of illustrations, I see a consistency and I really like the results. And it’s not even because most of my illustrations are based on the same photo shoot, though I’m sure that helps. I just see a connection here between each image where even though they contain different personalities and looks, they all represent a similar style.

That being said, this batch of illustrations is from January and I can assure you that changes are still taking place, especially as I experiment with adding colors to my work. But hey, there’s nothing wrong with that. I like still being able to see my growth each month as I reflect on earlier pieces and it’s encouraging to know that my style is making itself known.

Illustration based on Feb 17 Vogue: Dior Ad || Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Reference: Vogue, February 2017 ed, Dior advertisement

Illustration based on February 2017 Vogue: "Dangling Modifier" || Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Reference: Vogue, February 2017 ed, “Dangling Modifier” as photographed by Willy Vanderperre

Illustration based on February 2017 Vogue: "Small Wonder" || Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Reference: Vogue, February 2017 ed, “Small Wonder” (p. 168) as photographed by Willy Vanderperre

Illustration based on February 2017 Vogue: "At Attention" || Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Reference: Vogue, February 2017 ed, “At Attention” (p. 165) as photographed by Willy Vanderperre

Illustration based on February 2017 Vogue: "Far and Wide" || Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Reference: Vogue, February 2017 ed, “Far and Wide” (p. 163) as photographed by Willy Vanderperre

Illustration Based on January 2017 Vogue: "Moment of the Month" || Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Reference: Vogue, January 2017 ed, “Moment of the Month” (p. 98) as photographed by Patrick DeMarchelier

Illustration based on February 2017 Vogue: "Business as Usual" || Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Reference: Vogue, February 2017 ed, “Business as Usual” (p. 164) as photographed by Willy Vanderperre

Illustration based on November 2016 Vogue: "Gray Lady" || Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Reference: Vogue, November 2016 ed, “Gray Lady” (p. 205) as photographed by Patrick DeMarchelier

Illustration based on November 2016 Vogue: "Flower of the Flock" || Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Reference: Vogue, November 2016 ed, “Flower of the Flock” (p. 207) as photographed by Patrick DeMarchelier

Illustration based on December 2016 Vogue: "Eye to the Ear" || Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Reference: Vogue, December 2016 ed, “Eye to the Ear” (p. 241) as photographed by Josh Oline

Let me know what you think! Have any thoughts on the illustrations above? Any comments on my style or your question to find your own? I know a lot of creatives who read my posts are writers so would love to hear from your perspective as well: do you ever think/worry about your style when writing or are you too caught up in creating to notice? I’m curious!

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I’m creating again, reasons be damned.

I'm creating again, reasons be damned. || Blog post and illustration by Asti @ atypicalnarrative

I have to admit, it’s been a long time since I last sat down and allowed myself to create freely. Something about creating without a purpose has always felt wasteful and not allowed in my mind. I could flex my creative muscles if it were for a blog post or to go with a letter I was mailing to a friend, but to create for just the sake of creating? Well, that mostly hasn’t been the case for me since high school. (And believe me kids, that was a long, long time ago.)

The only exception has always been during my depressive episodes in which I turn towards creating to escape the thoughts of my racing brain. I find it’s one of the few things in life that absorbs me fully and brings me a sense of peace (which actually seems a bit counter-intuitive as a perfectionist who can always find something to hate in everything I do).

With my last fall into that dark world, I finally realized that my creating doesn’t have to be limited to bad times. If it helps me when I’m feeling down, surely it can make me feel even better when I’m feeling up. And so, over the last few months, I have created regularly again, without a reason, and it feels great.

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