Society of Illustrators: West Coast

Two of my works have been accepted by the Society of Illustrators: West Coast (abbreviated to “SILA” for Los Angeles because “SIWC” is not a word) and I’m very pleased.

The first is displayed on the top of my home page, because I am a clever marketer who sometimes does smart things like putting my best work closest to the audience, and hiding the filler at the bottom. It’s the one with the minotaurs and demon pigs in Tibetan Buddhist style for Tricycle: The Buddhist Review magazine. I knew from the get-go how pretty awesome this piece would be, and having worked extra hard on it, I’m glad that other people with professional credentials feel that way too.

The second piece will be up soon, about gerrymandering. I’m pleased with this one being selected also, since there was an experimentation process going on while I was working with it. I honestly get bored sick working on the computer, and this piece was an attempt to see how much I could get away with working off the computer, while still allowing me the freedom to edit as I pleased. Like all great experiments, it didn’t quite work, but I learned a bunch, and can possibly use that knowledge for a future assignment.

Which, of course, leads me to a crossroads I’ve been at since before college. Having received professional accolades for two of my projects, both of which I enjoyed equally, but each of which looks vastly different from the other, I am unsure which style to proceed with. I think they’re too similar to split them off and market myself as a man of many styles, take your pick! But they’re too different to advertise together (like I’m doing now) without art directors being unsure what they’re going to get if they hire me. Already, I don’t have the time to churn out personal work in both styles, and when I do personal work, it looks completely different anyway.

Commerce has always been the bane of my career. But no one in any professional capacity has responded positively (I mean, by hiring me. Plenty have said, “You do good work!” and immediately forgotten my name) to anything I’ve done for my own pleasure, which is probably what broke my sense of how my art should look to begin with. I’ve opened and closed too many online stores to be able to gauge anything from a popular vote, and the friends are generally too… friendly or inexperienced to give what I feel is useful advice. My wife has given me some good pointers, and I trust her, but she has tastes that often veer from mine, and from art directors too.

Which way shall I go? Because I’m sure straddling the fence is just as damaging to my illustration career as the five years I spent with a crude, unpopular, lazy style following college.