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My Secrets Exposed: True Confessions of a Professional Illustrator

As an illustrator, the most common question I’m asked is “what kind of utensil, paper, paint, ink, pen, etc., did you use to do this?” I’m always forthcoming in my response—at times in great detail. I have nothing to hide, there are no tricks up my sleeve when it comes to my art. I am aware that there is no magic pencil to be pulled from a stone, no special paper that arrives like a flying carpet and somehow transforms one into an amazing artist. There is however, a common misconception in the minds of artist-hopefuls that the artists they admire actually do possess those items and are simply hoarding them.

“Let us make man in our image.” That’s what the Creator said, right? My humble mind has come to understand that “our image” was possibly referring to two major aspects of likeness: the possession of one’s own will, and the ability to create. Both of which I am grateful for, the latter more so than the first, as creating gets me in much less trouble than my will. Although one’s will, driven by faith, is the beginning of creation . . . but that’s for another day.

Needless to say I’m thankful to be a creator, and it is that gift and talent in which I find the ability to produce artworks. So maybe there is some magic in the talent, but it’s up to me to determine the level of success I will find. The preparation, research, practice, planning and execution are based on what I am willing to put into exercising my raw goods.

“Ok, so I’ve got some talent, then just how do I decide what medium and materials are right for me?” You try. You try over and over. You experience. You experiment. You fail. Failure is the most important thing you can do while you are finding yourself as an artist. And through this process you eventually shape yourself into . . . well, you. And no matter what that looks like, be proud of it. Whatever you find yourself to be as an artist, as a creator, be the very best at it. Do your art like nobody’s business and when someone comes up to you and asks “What kind of pencil and paper did you use to do this?” you can proudly respond as I do: “It’s a #2 pencil and Xerox paper.”

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