Kristina Kister, Shikha Nambiar owning the illustration space

As frontiers are being pushed in curriculums, graphic art becomes one of the fastest-growing careers. Two top illustrators share how to improve your drawings professionally. 

Published: 20th September 2020 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th September 2020 04:27 PM   |  A+A-

Artworks by Kristina Kister, Shikha Nambiar

Artworks by Kristina Kister, Shikha Nambiar

Kristina Kister is an illustrator and character designer from Essen, Germany. After graduating in Communication Design, she worked as a junior art director in an ad agency, before becoming a freelance illustrator. Her style comprises geometric shapes, unusual color palettes, and clear outlines. Working mostly in digital, she experiments with watercolour and pencil textures to give her works an analogue feel.

No harm in using references
Even the most skilled artist can’t draw everything purely out of his or her imagination. Using reference pictures for colour, anatomy or perspective is perfectly fine and even necessary to make your illustration look professional.

Practice makes perfect
While talent is a good base to work on, it’s practice that makes you really improve. So if you want to be a good illustrator, regular practice is the key. Live-drawing, daily sketching and plein air painting are good methods to develop illustrative skills.

Kristina Kister; Shikha

Never stop trying new things
Avoid stagnation in both your technique and also ideas. Trying out different workflows, mediums and creative thinking methods are important. Be open to everything and let the world inspire you. Great ideas often come when you least expect them.

Talk to other artists
Staying in touch with other artists is essential. Networking with people similar to you gives you a boost of inspiration and a great possibility to get constructive criticism, which helps you improve your illustrations.

Don’t be harsh on yourself
Being an illustrator can be frustrating, especially in the beginning. While trying to realise your full potential, never forget to be kind to yourself. It’s not a race, and good things take time. Don’t push yourself too hard. Keep practicing and having fun. 

Shikha Nambiar is a multidisciplinary artist based in Pune, Maharashtra. She is passionate about illustration, hand-lettering and snail-mail. Her work is inspired by her travels, culinary exploits and social exchanges. She also has a deep interest in the history of people and places, and likes to document her findings through art.

Practice, practice, practice
I always keep a sketchbook with me and make a conscious effort to draw every day, even if it’s just a quick sketch of my cats. The more you draw, the more confident you’ll become over time. You can also figure out the time of day when you feel most creative.

Stay curious
We’re lucky to live in a time where there are tonnes of resources available for anything you want to learn. Skillshare is one of my favourite websites to learn new things. YouTube and Coursera have a lot of free learning resources. Take virtual tours of MoMA and other art galleries to see what’s happening in the world. Listen to podcasts like The Jealous Curator, Escape from Illustration Island and Creative Pep Talk.

Create goals
Set goals for yourself—mini-goals and long-term goals. Set some time aside every day and make a commitment. This will give you a sense of direction. Write down the kind of projects you want to do in the future and start taking small steps towards achieving them.

Participate in creative challenges
Whenever I’m in a slump, I pick a #drawthisinyourstyle challenge off Instagram. This simple yet fun activity helps inspire me instantly. Inktober is another popular challenge coming up next month, where artists all over the world create an ink drawing every single day during October.

Ask for feedback
Constructive feedback can really help your work. For freelancers, who work by themselves and don’t have access to peers and mentors, there are groups on FB where you can post your illustrations and get feedback from other professionals. Another way is to reach out to people you admire and ask them to mentor you.


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