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The Development of a Vector Artist

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The phrase "born to do it" comes to mind when we talk about those who excel in their chosen field, but is this really the case. In this article we'll look at the early work of the vector artist and what turned it around for them.

Introduction

It's very rare you find a person who can pick up a pencil and paper and create a masterpiece. Even more so when they pick up their stylus and open their vector program. There are many hurdles to overcome when venturing into a digital art form. You have your basic creativity hurdles of learning how to draw, composition basics and color theory, and this is just to name a few. Imagine coupling this with learning how to use an application to achieve the desired results.

Whatever your genre or medium, you develop as an artist emerges in three areas:

  • Creatively: development in overall design elements and composition.
  • Technically: be it learning anatomy proportions or learning to illustrate an emotion, these can be a genre specific development.
  • Medium Specific: learning your medium, in vector it would be learning how to use your application.

Websites such as Vectortuts+ and the Tuts+ network are here to help those who want to develop, however what have some vector artists done to improve in their craft?

The Development of a Vector Artist

I asked some seasoned vector artists what their motivation and inspiration to develop as an artist has been, what piece they've created has been their turn around piece, and what advice they have for others.

It's from seeing their earlier work we can truly appreciate how far they have came in their craft. I know that by seeing other people's earlier work, I gain comfort in the fact that we all started out somewhere.

Cristiano Siqueira aka CrisVector

Q What has been your motivation to improve and develop as an artist?

I've been trying to improve my technique to be able to say everything I want to say through an illustration. I don't want to be limited by the technique. It's like when you learn a new language. You want to say things, but you first need to learn more and more words to say exactly what's in your heart.

Q Was there a specific piece you've created that turned your work around?

Before this piece I was working in a style of vector art where I was trying to look like a work done in Photoshop, with very polished shading. After "Le Chapeau Noir" I realized that I could work in a more unique style, keeping the realism and exploring other tools, trying to be closer to the original style of illustration I had before using digital tools.

Q If you could give any tips or advice to other vector artists, what would it be?

I suggest people to not be afraid to change style whenever you feel you want to change. Just bear in mind that this change takes time until you get fully developed.

Helen Huang aka CQCat

Q What has been your motivation to improve and develop as an artist?

My motivation is my passion for art. Creating art brings me joy and satisfaction that nothing else in this world can bring. Each time I work on a new piece, I want to improve and make it the best piece I have.

Q Was there a specific piece you've created that turned your work around?

"Windy Day" is my first official vector art piece and also the first piece I shared with the public audience. This piece marks the beginning of the CQcat style. Before "Windy Day," I hadn't established my style. I was just learning the tools and creating some images. I think to have a unique style is very important. It's like the signature of an artist.

Q If you could give any tips or advice to other vector artists, what would it be?

Enjoy what you do. Passion is a very important motivation. Always challenge yourself. Keep learning. Evolving and improving is crucial. Have an open mind. It will benefit you so much if you open your inspiration source to all mediums of art, not just vector art.

Cathy Martin aka FlashParade

Q What has been your motivation to improve and develop as an artist?

My motivation to improve as a vector artist has been that as my skills in illustration have grown, I've expanded my artistic ideas. I've needed a way to convey those ideas and do justice to my drawings, and bring them to life.

I've tried to digitally color in the past, and it never really worked out, so I realized that if I ever wanted to finish a piece I would have to do it with vector, so I feel the need to keep pushing myself and to experiment with different techniques and styles.

I draw in different styles, and as I draw I envision what I want them to look like finished, then I begin the challenging and rewarding process of using my vector skills to create what I've envisioned. I also find some of my motivation lies in other artists, because as I view their work I become motivated and inspired to improve.

Q Was there a specific piece you've created that turned your work around?

This work "sea.music," I feel kind of turned my work around. After I finished it, I was very happy with the turn out, and felt that it was a successful execution. It looked the way I wanted it to look and it used my vectoring skills in a way that inspired me to continue.

Q If you could give any tips or advice to other vector artists, what would it be?

My advice for vector artists would be, you don't need to know a ton about vectoring and the techniques that go along with it to be good, so don't beat yourself up about that. I've been working in Illustrator for years and I think I only use one tenth of the program's capabilities. It's not always about how much you know, but how you work it! I keep trying to learn more and grow, but I don't get too upset if I can't figure out how to create a certain visual, I just do my best with the knowledge I have, and try to learn anywhere and anyway I can.

Also, sometimes simple is better!

Ashley Benson aka PixelledAndDead

Q What has been your motivation to improve and develop as an artist?

My motivation is to work on my craft and see how others feel about it. If I can make other people feel the same way about my work, it motivates me to work that much harder. I love bright colors, fantastical ideas, and worlds that have no business in reality. I love smooth sharp lines and high quality prints. There's no guess work once you've got the hang of using vectors. When you print, you'll only see what you've made, there's no pixelation, just the life you breathe into your pieces.

Q Was there a specific piece you've created that turned your work around?

"Brier Rose," was my first commission. She asked me to make her a huge print. I had no idea if I could pull it off. This piece was about 35 inches large. Once I got a look at the printed copy, I was hooked. I practically went every weekday to a local printing shop just to print something off. I started steam rolling pieces because I loved the look it produced once it was finished. This piece might not be that detailed, but she still loves it to this day, and if I can be inspired by just that, then I know I'll still be working in vector way past my expiration date.

Q If you could give any tips or advice to other vector artists, what would it be?

If I had any advice, it would be to stick with it. I was very close to taking my frustrations out on a $4,000 Mac Computer, simply because I couldn't figure out how to cut out holes in cheese. Long story short, I had my professor pity me and take me under her wing after a 2am rant about holy cheese and the mother of all evil computers.

Also, entering contests can be an awesome way to gain experience and practice. In one year alone I entered about 25 contests, some small, some major, but all in all they really helped. Learn a few hot buttons; they'll be your best friend. There are many vector artists who prefer using a Wacom tablet, but it's not a necessary expense. I'm quite proud to say that every project I have in my DA art gallery was done with my trusty mouse. I have a Wacom, but I never use it for vector work, I'm much more comfortable with a mouse. Another helpful hint, always keep your Ctrl + Z handy. You never know when you'll need it.

You can check out how Ashley works in this Maneater Vector Girl collaboration tutorial I did with her last month.

Svetlana Makarova aka Lanitta

Q What has been your motivation to improve and develop as an artist?

I guess my motivation was to prove to myself that I can get better and better and master new techniques. You know kind of a self challenge. And I always wanted to learn and still do.

Q Was there a specific piece you've created that turned your work around?

I think everything changed, when I realized that drawing long stylish girls in fashion clothes is what I can do best. So I worked and worked in that direction and I now have rather distinguished style in that. That is why I cannot give you any particular piece – they all were important for my professional growth.

Q If you could give any tips or advice to other vector artists, what would it be?

Be persistent in what you are doing, practice a lot, look through works of great artists and illustrators and get inspired, try to feel what you are best at and develop your strengths, not forgetting to improve weaknesses and trying something new from time to time, showcase your works at blogs, communities, etc., be patient and you definitely will succeed!

Conclusion

As a vector artist myself, I know that in any medium the knowledge doesn't happen overnight. It's something you need to invest a lot of time and effort into.

If you want to give yourself some encouragement, try comparing your first piece of vector art to the piece you've most recently created. Leave a comment on this article showing us how far you've come along.

There are many ways you can help yourself and make this development time more worthwhile and easier. There are websites and communities out there that can provide you with techniques, case studies and feedback.

Useful Vector Tutorial Websites

Useful Art Communities & Inspiration

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