So we’ve been drawing animals lately, my daughter and I…
After the post about the collaborative illustrations I did with our 4-year old daughter lit up, I was flooded with a ton of wonderful, inspiring ideas from people all over the world. Make some kid ones! Make some happier ones! Make one that looks like your daughter!
And we did. And we had so much fun. The thing is, when we made them the first time, it’s not something that was very well-planned out. It happened initially by chance. It was, as Bob Ross said, a “happy accident.” We did it for fun, just because it was something we loved to do together.
But sometimes I found myself trying very hard to draw faces that I thought people would like. As an illustrator, I am VERY comfortable working with other peoples’ ideas. But when I try too hard on my own to make something I THINK someone will like (as opposed to what I just enjoy or would like to make FOR them), it always falls flat. So we laid off the heads for awhile, and took a little break.
Until one day our daughter asked me if I could draw her some heads again. “This time can we draw an elephant one?” she asked. “Of course!” I said.
…Man. She always has the best ideas.
And so we did. And the life was back! And as much fun as we had with heads, I realized that the reason it was starting to feel so strange was that I was trying too hard to do something that I THOUGHT people wanted to see, as opposed to what I really REALLY enjoy doing with her.
So we started simply–by drawing an animal for every letter of the alphabet. She would think carefully about what animal would be for each letter, and then focus intently when I’d give her an animal head to draw the body on.
She had so much fun choosing animals for letters! I said, “maybe we could spell your name with them?” And we did.
I laid out letters for each of the animals. I thought it’d be fun for her room to be able to spell out her name with each print. I thought it’d be fun, too, to do a print of all of the animals together…
Then we kept going, beyond the alphabet, to whatever animals we both felt like doing.
And you know what? I love them! And we had so much fun.
It really would be nice if, once you learned a lesson, you never had to learn it again. I still constantly have to keep myself focused on letting go of my expectations; on enjoying what IS instead of what SHOULD or COULD be. Usually I find the best things come that way.
Our head collaborations are not over. They’re still a very fun project we do together. But it’s good to mix it up sometimes, too.
The lesson I keep learning and have to relearn again and again is that other peoples’ input is SUCH a great source of inspiration for me, but that trying TOO hard to create something specifically that other people might like is a dead end. DO WHAT YOU LOVE and do it with all the joy you have, just for the sheer joy of doing it, and people are bound to enjoy it and feel that love in it.
And if they don’t…well, why do you care, as long as you’re happy?
Because I liked them so much, I decided to put all the letters on RedBubble as prints. And some of the plain animals are there, too. If you like them too, or if you want to build your own name out of animals, that’s where they’ll be…!