Years ago, I was pretty much doing 95% of my work with paint. Sure, I had some Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator savvy; I had even done some client work that was all-digital to test the waters, but I was still definitely not what I would consider a “digital artist” at this point. Even more frustrating was that my work was so flat and smooth that most people thought my gouache paintings were actually digital! It seemed to make sense that I graduate to the all mighty vector and join the modern age. In addition, my software know-how had expanded tenfold while working as an in-house designer, making me a digital ninja that could execute my work at a new level. So when I had the chance to bust out some vector work for an online class, I thought this would certainly be the turning point. My new era had begun! So I made the new piece and low and behold… I didn’t care for it that much. Sure, I probably was getting used to this new “look,” you say. However, It wasn’t that. I realized that the vector process had completely stripped away the elements that made my work look like me. As much as I tried to make my early gouache paintings super neat and smooth, I realized when comparing it to the vector piece that I actually liked all the little mistakes that happened during the painting process – the texture of my brush, the lines that would vary and have funky edges. The vector work was just too perfect for me!
In college, my peers and instructors knew me as someone who was pretty confident in mark-making. My sketchbook overflowed with drawings and doodles that had energy and a wonderful messiness. I loved a good two-minute life drawing pose executed with sumi ink on a large drawing pad. Although my final projects were executed with skill, there was always something in them that was missing when compared to my sketches. Like many artists out there, I would tighten up and the freeness of my original hand would be lost to some degree. If I could just figure out how to keep the original liveliness of these sketches in my final pieces!
Naturally, I believed the solution was to work digitally. There I could preserve my sketches and work on top of them, instead of trying to emulate or duplicate them under pressure. The growing popularity of vector work out there made me believe that Adobe Illustrator and vector surely was the ideal answer, and I believed that once I started this new art chapter of my life, it would just be vector, vector, vector and I would never look back.
Oh, how wrong I was.