VLOG | Illustration Voice Workshop

Happy New Year everyone! This is the 10th and final episode of Freelance Illustration Friday in 2016. The theme of this episode is a year in review in the form of an Illustration Voice Workshop that I'm taking myself through, as a jumping off point to begin 2017 business planning! 



  • Gather a large sampling of all of the projects, experiments, and various types of work you created throughout the year
  • This should be a mix of work you're proud of and the work that didn't turn out so well...
  • I took screen grabs of the whole year on Instagram and laid out a sample on Photoshop so I could easily categorize, edit and turn it into a nice graphic that I can use elsewhere 



  • Figure how you want to categorize your work to evaluate
  • I first grouped by subject matter, and then found that there were also stylistic similarities within each subject grouping
  • For example, the penguins and dachshunds are all done in a "dreamy" watercolor and ink technique
  • While you're diving you'll begin to see patterns and notice you're development over the year, it's pretty cool how that happens ;) 



  • Take a moment to get really honest with yourself about what is and is not working for you, and only you 
  • Ignore what you think other people will like, what will sell, and all of that jazz and just be 100% true to your heart in this section 
  • Try to remember how you felt while you were making the work and whether the process was enjoyable as well, since that usually comes across in the work



  • Use the tools at your disposal to look at most popular posts on each platform (Instagram, blog, YouTube, Tumblr, etc.)  

  • A great tool here for Instagram is the 2016 Best Nine: https://2016bestnine.com

  • Don't get too caught up, but notice whether there are any trends in terms of what people like

  • For example in my case, people certainly seem to like the little doxies, as well as the more polished "Watercolor and Chat" videos where I talk through my painting process



  • Fill out this framework with a few pieces from each category to get a sense of how much effort your different categories take versus the result 
  • Some things come really naturally and we're generally pretty good at them, these would appear in the top right quadrant
  • Whereas, some things we tend to force ourselves into and are a real struggle to execute, there would appear in the bottom left quadrant 
  • Generally we want to always move upwards and right whenever possible, knowing that some things we're developing will start bottom right and evolve as we get better at them



  • Use the same framework to evaluate your categories of work in terms of how much you love doing them, versus how much income you think you can make from them (if that is important to you)
  • Again, the top right are the dream projects, those that we love and can pay the bills at the same time!
  • The bottom left is what we should stay away from, because life is too short 
  • The bottom right are likely projects you need to take initially (and maybe longer) for financial stability
  • The top left are things like personal projects that can move right over time 
  • Trying to achieve a balance of projects across the framework is generally a good rule of thumb



  • Finally take all of the things you've learned in the workshop and give yourself some action items to bring into your work in 2017
  • I used a "lean in, develop, and cut back" format (sort of an illustrative version of "start, stop, continue" which also totally works