The hardest part of making pretty things is remembering the time and effort that went into the last thing you made that you were happy with. Starting a new project, I think that it's just going to come out perfect the first time. Nothing will have to be adjusted, changed or just plain deleted.
I spent the day yesterday helping my Dad stain his fence. It gets so tempting to attach yourself to the result - But a bunch of rough wood surfaces and the need to make a consistent color coat will take you out of that attitude really quickly. My Dad used the phrase "just work it into the wood" when he was describing his process. That really made it click.
You can't just will a project to look good. You have to be patient with the process of working your tastes into what you are drawing, painting, building, playing, etc.
Digital anything can make that hard to believe. You want a circle? BOOM! You have a circle. Who cares? Anyone can make a circle. You have to have a purpose for that circle. Is it the start of a head? Is it a planet? Is it perfect where it is and how it is? Can I eat it? The easiness of creating it causes a lot of disdain for digital stuff. It can be hard to convince someone classically trained that it IS some kind of art. It's easy to fix all your mistakes, so imperfections are considered laziness over personal flair. It can be printed again and again, so the individuality can only come from something like a limited print run over it being the only canvas in the world holding the image.
If anyone with less experience than me asked me what the qualities of a good digital artist was, I would say taste over technique. A technique, like a recipe, can be analyzed and emulated easily, the only thing that makes it yours is what you work that circle into that was so easy to make.
Sometimes I need to be roped back in. I can convince myself that any idea I have is a good idea. I'm glad I just finished a project where I can show you a perfect example of this. Kimmie from Doublewide bar hired me to create a re-useable venue poster showing her upcoming dates for music. This is what my brain came up with:
Pretty? Yes. Fun? Yes. Colorful? Yes. Right for Double Wide?
The upside to working by myself is working in a bubble. The downside to working by myself is also working in a bubble. When you make something and you get really excited about it, and you are pre-feedback, you definitely feel like you can do no wrong. That's pretty much exactly when you need feedback. Which I got. After realizing that maybe the patrons of a bar that mostly features stuff like rockabilly, punk, metal, and the like are probably not apt to respond to my flashy happy colors, we agreed on something more like this:
More skulls, more icon-like, less color, no cartoon characters. Did that make me sad? Kinda. That's the danger of getting attached to what you are doing and not showing someone what you are working on. I have a habit of not showing drafts until i have a flood worth of visuals to show. I have an addiction to the "blown-away" effect that has on my clients. The double-edge of that is that sometimes it's nothing anywhere near what my client wants. Then, I get to start over.
The first step of that is calming the inner child. At that point it's flying on the back of a flame-breathing ego. "THIS IS MY WORK!" "IT HAS MY NAME ON IT!" WAH WAH WAH. You have to remind that big baby that it's also part of commissioned art to collaborate with the client and that it's your collective piece and not YOUR (singular) piece that's going in a gallery.
The second step is getting back in the head of your client. Especially if they're not right there to collaborate with. What kinda stuff do THEY like? Have you worked with them before? If so, do you have a look for them that is pretty consistent? On this particular project, that was very true. When I get out of my "LOOK AT ME" ego trip, I know that Kim likes the simpler stuff that I do. Which is way easler...when I don't let me carry myself away.
After that, it's pretty easy to fill the order. You don't waste time trying to drag the rejected idea out of left field, and you see a clear path of what your client WANTS from you. Instead of doing unpaid spec work you can just sit down, make it pretty, and be donesies.
Taylor Ellis has always drawn and has always been silly.