How I learned to draw | How I became an Illustrator

How I learned to draw | How I became an Illustrator


excited about the video I’m about to
share with you today. It’s going to be wonderful and scary! I am going to take
you through a majority of the artwork I have created throughout my life. Starting
from when I was four years old and up until the work I’m producing today. I’m hoping
to show you that art is not about talent Learning how to draw is just
persistence: It is spending a lot of hours it’s putting in a lot of time. It’s just
practice! So I hope looking through all this artwork, that you’ll see all
of the really poor drawings that I created when I was younger. I hope
that you’ll see how one step leads to another. You got to produce those not-so-great drawings to be able to produce the really good ones
later on, so let’s get started on this! First we have a drawing from when I was
four years old it’s an outline of my hand and it’s followed by a couple of
pictures of when I was little and portrait of my mother and some horse
drawings I was very much into horses for a long time. So a lot of these early
drawings are just you know childhood drawings it’s funny seeing how you go
through different styles throughout your teenagers as you kind of develop
mentally and physically I was very much into vampires for a
while in 2003 I gained a much deeper interest in doing artwork I’ve picked up
colored pencils and I started doing a lot of very inspired art work start work
with based on foreign fraud took good fairies bad fairies
now despite of doing so many drawings at the time I really didn’t understand how
to improve my drawings I was producing a lot but I was not using reference very
often I think the self-portrait is one of the only ones I used reference for
and unfortunately that kind of reflects itself in the quality of the artwork
that lack of reference and the lack of a visual library just costs a lot of
frustrations and struggles and not being able to draw what was in my head and
what I saw in the world around me I also hadn’t really learned how to draw from
life yet in 2006 I got my first wake and tablet and this was going to be a big
game-changer for me it was also the year that I was enrolled in my very first art
school and I learned how to study art now despite learning how to study and
going through all of these great practices I still didn’t quite
understand where my teachers were trying to tell me that by doing all of these I
would you know overall become a better artist I can’t say that I really applied
myself in studies I just wanted to draw my own thing and I kept practicing with
digital but not doing good studies of the digital art it just it wasn’t
getting where I wanted it to be so I became really frustrated in with my
artworks around that time I met two illustrators that live in New York City
and seeing their work and talking through them I started to realize that
if I wanted to become a good artist I really had to apply myself and I had to
practice I had to be serious about my studies and that’s when I made the
conscious decision that I really wanted to be an illustrator I wanted to apply
to art school in the u.s. because the schools in Denmark we’re not offering
what I was looking for and to oblige to school in the u.s. I really had to work
really hard so I started drawing a lot more than I ever had before everyday I
would draw and practice and try to understand shape and color and Anatomy
and it was very difficult because I was still studying on my own but it paid off
because in 2010 I was accepted into Pratt Institute of Art in New York City
I packed my suitcases I said goodbye for my friends and family and I moved to the
US and I began my year at Platt Institute which was without a doubt the
best year of my life on the first day at Pratt there was a teacher who held a
lecture to welcome us to the school and he told us about a previous student who
had said to him that during the foundation year he found that he never
knew he could do so much and those words really stuck with me throughout my time
there I was producing much more work than I ever had before I learned so much
about Anatomy about color about how to study about how to truly apply myself to
the art work now the motto of Pratt Institute is be true to your work and
your work will be true to you and I think those words are just you know so
true if you put in the time and the effort it’s definitely going to reflect
itself in the artwork you produce that being said it takes a long time to learn
stuff so while you mentally might be able to grasp something from you know
being able to do that and then being able to actually process it and put it
out in through your hand really can be really difficult and it can take a lot
of time to do so this little red riding-hood piece was a big milestone
for me it was my first really successful digital piece and I was extremely
excited about it it kind of spun my artwork in a new
direction you can also mark the end of my time at Pratt Institute I couldn’t
afford tuition so I had to stop studying now I started working on my own personal
projects instead the first one was a fairy pinup calendar which I worked on
throughout 2011 and published in 2012 at this time I still had a lot to learn
when it came to Anatomy and color and things like that but doing my own
personal projects and self publishing like this really helped me to learn good
work ethics and how to put out a product those are very important skills to have
as an illustrator this is especially important when you’re just starting out
you have to hire yourself while other people
are not hiring you yet and by hiring yourself take a story that you really
like illustrate that at that to your portfolio and that way you are showing
potential clients that you have what it takes to make a beautiful product now I
really love going to art school and I wanted to finish my degrees on 2012 I
applied to the Cooper Union Art School which is a full scholarship School in
New York City unfortunately it’s extremely competitive so I was not
accepted in 2012 I started working on my second personal project a troll kin
calendar it was based around Scandinavian folklore and had a lot of
you know old stories from from Scandinavia it’s very near and dear to
my heart having grown up in Denmark all these personal projects also served us
great practice to improve my work in 2013 I began my career as a freelance
illustrator and I got my first jobs and it was really fun I enjoyed doing that I
started started getting torn between working digitally and working
traditionally my digital skills work quickly getting a lot better than my
traditional skills but I always felt like traditional art works seems more
like like real work you know like real art whereas the digital was just on the
computer and although you print it out you don’t have an actual product but
despite of that I just have a really deep love of digital art I really love
working digitally I love the way like the effects and everything you can
create always being able to paint on top and of course having an undo button my
traditional work is not as far along as my digital work is but I think the only
reason for that is because I practice a lot more with the digital in 2013 I created my very first drawing
of Montague Mouse and I did not know at the time that this
was going to be my one of my like first really major projects major personal
projects I just I really liked the drawing and the character just kind of
begged to be something more I brought the drawing to conventions and
people asking about it and if there was a story behind it and it just kind of
told me that I had to do something more with that in 2014 my freelance career really
started to take off I was hired for my first really big
project which was a tarot deck called the Greenwich Tarot they consisted of 79
illustrations I had 15 months to complete it and that is not a lot of
time for that many illustrations I set my own deadlines though so I kind of I
forgot about weekends and time off and I just put myself on a really tight
schedule nonetheless it was a really wonderful project to work on and I
learned so much from it I think my art skills have improved considerably since
then it’s impossible to do 79 illustrations and not learn quite a bit
from it but I’m still really happy with the result of the day I will have some
point do a full video on how to illustrate your own tarot deck in 2015 I
got my first mentorship where I was taught by illustrator Scott Brundage and
that was amazing I learned a lot about dynamic composition and how to tell
better stories and images it’s also the year where I won my very first award for
an illustration so I was so excited about that another big thing that
happened in 2015 was I took on a traditional drawing challenge called 30
paintings in 30 days where you have to create a painting everyday for a month
and this was really an eye-opening experience for me
I learned a lot about how to paint traditionally as opposed to just
painting digitally and it really seemed to resonate with the people who like my
artwork they were really thrilled about the paintings I sold all of them except
for – 2015 was also the year that our started working for Python doing
illustrations for the Pathfinder grant and that was awesome I really enjoyed
that the end of 2015 was when Montague Mouse became its own story project I
decided to turn Montague into a full Illustrated story and I am still working
on that you can find more about it at Montague Mouse com I will put a link in
the description I think the Montague project helps for a lot of growth in my
personal works 2016 kind of marked a year where I started
grasping a lot of things that I had been trying to learn for many years and I
think my artwork took a big leap forward during the year I just mostly focus on
my client work I’m not showing all of it here because I’ve chosen to focus this
video mainly on my personal work in 2016 I also went back to drawing a lot more I
realized that my drawing skills were not up to par with what I wanted and so I
began using my sketchbook a lot more and just really trying to learn how to draw
well I also started a new project called year
of the unicorn in 2016 it is a calendar featuring unicorns and it is going to be
published in the fall of 2017 I will leave a link for that in the
description there is something to be said for volume when it comes to
learning how to draw of course you have to study with intention and really try
to understand like the shapes and the forms and the gestures and all of that
but producing a lot of work kind of helps you do that it also takes the
stress out of making a perfect drawing when you’re producing a lot you can make
a lot of mistakes and from those mistakes you’re going to learn and
develop your style and all of these personal projects is really helping me
develop my work and grow my skills it’s also been a really nice way for me to
kind of find out what direction I wanted to move in artistically so I highly
recommend that if you are looking to develop your artwork you should look
into doing personal projects that is all for now and thank you so
much for watching like and subscribe if you enjoyed this and want to see more
content and I look forward to seeing you again next week

100 thoughts on “How I learned to draw | How I became an Illustrator

  1. This is super inspiring I’m realizing I’m not drawing enough to get good you have sooo many drawings and illustrations and you probably didn’t include every practice you did, it really shows how much hard work it is

  2. You really love dark themed artworks do you? That is what I did just observed. By the way your story is really inspirational, I do think that I am bad at drawing now that I am 18 years old, I felt that I can't improve no more but thanks to your story, now I'm gaining my interest in going back to arts.

  3. Wow. Great video. I started young but did not continued when I got in high school… big mistake.
    You have to check out some great work on a new level… VR. I have the HTC VIVE and been messing around with Tilt Brush. It's a whole new ballgame when you can walk in and around your artwork. Do a Youtube search for Tilt Brush and you'll see.

  4. This is the exact example of: "hard work beats talent, When talent doesnt work hard." Thank you so much for sharing this! I mean I am very struggling with art. It doesn’t seem to come out the way I want it to, but I know that how more I practice how more I improve. Thank you for motivating me for keep going! Love you and your art! You are amazing!❤️💕

  5. Splendid body of work, wow! – thank you for inspiring. I'm getting back to acrylic painting after last doing it at design school, years ago (then I went to work in corporate). Your video gave me the confidence to continue where I left off. Thank you, thank you.

  6. That was highly motivational..Co incidentally I'm also looking fwd to step into the arts planet but a long way to go…

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  11. If I may ask… how did u manage to survive financially studying at 22-24?? I'm 22 and ive recently started a good career in IT but it's not my dream, its not what i want to be doing, i'd much more preffer to achieve my dream of being an artist. but I dont see any possible way of surviving financially as student for 3-4 years especially as i dont really have family/ parents to help fund me and i'd have to pay rent for somewhere to live and uni is like 10k ++ …

  12. An 18 year old me who fav up on art a long time ago now that I’m stuck in life I realise I love art I want to take it in as a career maybe. I can’t afford art school and even if I managed to my peers are never gonna support it. It scares me that I can never be a proper illustrator or take off my art.

  13. The mouse at 12:31 got me! Absolutely brilliant, the picture tells you so much about this little charachter!

  14. What an amazing imagination! And, how awesome to be able to express it from your mind and soul through your hands onto paper/stylus pad. Thank you for your honesty. I think people don't realize that it takes hours and hours to learn this. To do anything well in life, it takes time. Being intelligent also means realizing, in childhood, that you have to pick what you're passionate about over everything else: over socializing with friends, video games, over dating, over clubbing, and although most won't admit it, even over family. I went the practical route starting in junior high, and made the decision to ignore my artistic passion. Being told I wasn't good enough, by my parents (people who were awful at encouraging anything). Well, of course I wasn't "good enough". I was just beginning. Everyone sucks at first. But, no one wants to admit that. Even teachers will discourage you. This was 1982. Hopefully as a society we're evolving from that kind of crap in our schools. Anyway, by the time I went to college, any attention I ever had in art was long gone. I chose to be a Registered Nurse vs a Graphic Designer. It was already too late anyway. I didn't pursue art in High School. I didn't have a portfolio. I chose the practical route. I'm not even sure why. I already knew I wasn't going to have kids (by choice) so I had some flexibilty to take risks. But, nursing it was. So, for 6 years as an RN I was completely miserable. It was some of the worst years of my life. I looked older as an RN in my 20's the I do now in my 40's. This is the God's honest truth. I left nursing at the turn of millennium. But, I had a mortgage and to get by, practicality was still the path I was forced to chose, so after nursing, I still had "practical jobs" to get by. I had dabbled in digital illustrating. I started illustrating greeting cards in "Paint" over the years. But, other things were always "more important". Like socializing. Helping my parents who really didn't need help. They were retired young, wealthy and bored. I was single and childless, so I became their "lackey". Big mistake
    Don't let that happen to you. It was until I was 42 years old that I met the love of my life who is an Architect. He understood himself the time needed, and the hours of drawing and practice … in addition to earning the degree. He started on drafting table. Then onto the computer. He knows the long hours, carpal tunnel, and leg cramps. But, when it's something your passionate about, these are "scars" earned through a labor of love. It wasn't until I met him (now my husband), that I got a chance to use my creativity. On my 46th Birthday, he bought me a Wacom tablet. And, my whole world changed for the better in an instant. Sometimes, unfortunately, it's the cards we're dealt. Sometimes it's growing up in a family where funds are scarce and chores or work are a necessity to get by, may replace that time needed to develop drawing skills. So, amen to the kids who drew in their rooms all night after a day of helping run the family business. When you see a great artist, you can't see the many challenges/sacrifices that went into their success, unless they share that with you.

  15. Her art has some creepy touch ! You are so talented I've not seen this kind of talent since so long! Art goddess. You can make anything you get in your mind. 👏

  16. Kiri, what do you think about starting illustration at age of 35 ?! (Probably we are at the same age now) I'm thinking if it has any sense…I've had really small practice since my youth but some people tell me that I have talent to draw. I know that talent is not enough but maybe you know someone who successfully accomplished his/her career starting about this age or even later?

  17. I’m 13.
    I’m good at drawing but I really want to be a illustrator ..
    But I don’t know where to start…

  18. I think your work is amazing and you have made amazing progress from where you began. I love your dedication to continually improving your skills. I have a similar story except my work is not at your level yet. I left a career in Architecture to become an illustrator and got a BFA and started working as an illustrator. I them realized that my skills were not as strong as they should be so I went back to school for an MFA studying Digital Illustration and Comic Art which I received in 2011. I got divorced and I received a job offer teaching design classes which I took because I had no money and would of been homeless. 14 years later to 2019 my school closed and I am back to starting up my illustration career.

  19. Looking at those “poor” drawings when you were younger definitely shows that there was talent there. It’s clearly about both talent and (the ability to) practice.

  20. I've always thought that it's all about talent. I believe it's talent and hardwork. Talent without hardwork won't cut it.

  21. Wow you're from Denmark! I'm 14 and me too! I am really stuck and it's hard to learn to draw that good but you inspire me so much! Thanks for an awesome video

  22. I love your paintings but I think you could benefit from broadening your style / theme. At the moment, it's mostly fantasy based.

  23. Me: amazing artwork
    She: didn't use reference and that is reflecting in the quality of these paintings
    Me: wwhatt?!

  24. Absolutely fascinating works! I started to learn art recently and want to improve myself 😀 This video gave me a lot of hope!

  25. Thank you much! It's so easy to get overwhelmed by all this amazing 19 year old artist. This video is really a motivation to push my self and keep practicing

  26. Thank you I’m 10 and My dad is teaching me how to do a bargue drawings and I’m half way though I i was thinking I just wanna drop the whole thing and draw my own stuff and you mad me realize that I can’t do that if I wanna get better at art, thank you so so much :3

  27. Thank you for this video! I will be an illustrator someday too 🙂 And you inspired me a lot! Thank you again

  28. Wonderful to see your development and your personal projects are so interesting. I'm just wondering how much time to spend with traditional vs digital art. Thanks for sharing!

  29. lol, the portrait of her mother she did when she was six has better proportions of the head than i can easily do today, haha

  30. This video really spoke to me on a personal level. I had the same "I didn't know I could do so much" moment when I went to audio school. I went from kinda knowing how to make basic beats on a computer to being able to track and record anything in professional studios. Art really is a journey with no end.

  31. First … I didn't know yay where danish. And second … you rely had talent when you was a kid – I have never seen a "normal" 4 year old drawing that good. And you just kept getting better and better. 😀

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