At Some Point, All Experts Were Novices

Note: Reposted from Linkedin.

I am fascinated by how people become experts in a field. At some point, all these experts were novices and needed help navigating. I’m new to the world of professional illustration and I’m working towards becoming an expert. I want to know almost everything about the illustration industry within New York City and I will. Because I can’t afford to take classes, I have forced myself to be disciplined and resourceful about learning my craft. I’ve sought out mentors and I’m incorporating their lessons into my work. The above illustration embodies how much more confident I’ve become with drawing.

A couple of months ago, I was convinced that I couldn’t loosen up my line work. My lines were stiff, hesitant and self-conscious. For example, the first time I sketched this blue jay, I was so concerned about rendering every fiber correctly that I quickly became overwhelmed by the feathers. So I borrowed a book about bird anatomy from the Wild Bird Fund (where I find my beautiful avian models), started drawingmore often for muscle memory (portraits in August), and asked my artistic mentors for feedback on almost every sketch. Now each week, I’m shocked by how much my drawings are improving.

I know Linkedin may not be the ideal place for an aspiring illustrator to share her journey, but I believe in interdisciplinary thinking. Regardless of your field, we can all learn from each other. Art wasn’t always my priority. In my mid-twenties, I wanted to be a corporate CEO and my favorite magazines were Businessweek and Harvard Business Review. Wow, how things have changed. Even though as a child I wanted to be an artist, I grew up to pity them. I couldn’t understand why they chose such an unstable passion. But I’ve learned that you don’t choose a passion; it chooses you. And once it has found you, there’s no escape. Anyway, I hope my story helps you on your journey to expertise.

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