A Secret of My Past, Revealed!

November 11th, 2013 by Student Blogger
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Anime art from 2006, meaning I was fourteen when I drew this... Yikes.

Anime art from 2006, meaning I was fourteen when I drew this… Yikes.

By Colleen Clark

Ah, that familiar feeling of clicking on an old folder hidden within the depths of your computer and immediately breaking out into an embarrassed, nervous sweat. You quickly check your surroundings to make sure no one is around as you quietly click through the images, each one making you wince and blush more than the rest. You’ve found it… your old art.

As cringe-inducing as it is, it’s probably a good idea to go find that secret folder and suffer through looking at it every once in a while. It’s good for your confidence! If art from a few years ago looks bad to you today, it’s a very good sign that you are improving. I promise.

So, to encourage myself to examine my personal growth, to encourage anyone who’s reading to do the same, and to fully embarrass myself to the general public, I’m going to show you the best of the worst old art I can find. Here we go.

First, there was the anime phase. I know for sure that a whole lot of people who grew up when I did got into art because of the big anime craze in my childhood. I think I started seeing myself as an artist when I started drawing Sailor Moon and Pokemon around age six or so. I really hate my old anime art mostly because I realize now that I wasn’t trying to find my own style, but I was instead trying to copy someone else’s. But hey, you have to start somewhere, right? I credit it for making me start drawing in the first place.

Then, I got really obsessed with birds and swirls and vague, happy imagery. The kind of stuff you’d find on stationary and in the “Uplifting” section on stock image websites.  These kinds of little bird drawings were so pervasive in art and design that the sketch comedy show Portlandia did a skit on it! There is nothing wrong with drawing or liking little birds or liking this aesthetic, by the way. It was just wrong for me because I was poorly copying a style that did not belong to me instead of trying to figure out what made me unique. I think this is a very common mistake that artists make throughout their lives as they try to figure out their style.

Then, in my later high school years, I tried to be a little edgier and funnier in my art after I realized the cutesy stuff was all the same. I was finally starting to put it together—what I really liked was generally happy art, art that made people feel good or laugh. This is what made me start looking into a career in Illustration. I did a series on “pet peeves,” where my goal was to create some funny illustrations of everyday annoyances. Even though I still like my original idea and would consider completing the series again, I would change the composition, drawing, colors, and pretty much everything about each piece. The cool thing about that knee-jerk reaction to my bad choices in these areas is that it shows what my three years of intensive training have taught me.

Weirdly, some of the things I made in high school that I loved most were comics I doodled on notebook paper. You can see comic-inspired imagery seeping into all of the art I made, too. I always knew I wanted to make comics more than anything, and that continues to this day. Hopefully these are actually readable at full-size…

So, there. I did it. I showed you all of my old art. If you stuck through that painful exercise in self-deprecation, thank you. It was actually really fulfilling for me to write about my past art ventures, and it helped me figure out  my timeline of personal growth. If you want to see how much or little I have improved, check out my art on my blog. I hope I have inspired all of you artists out there to do some digging and figure out how much you have learned!

Colleen Clark, CCAD senior illustration major, enjoys looking at photos of dogs online, following NBC comedy series (specifically anything involving Tina Fey), and sharing her art and thoughts through her online blog.

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