Day 2: Themes

Finding the themes I like to draw on (heh) in my own art.

I actually started this process a little while ago, in the back of my mind, because I was applying for a job and had to try to describe who I was as an illustrator. But I hadn’t gotten much further than ‘I like to draw people in places’ and ‘history, fantasy, family adventure type things’.

the burrow kitchen

When I sat down to do this properly (last week, maybe the week before) I started noticing a lot more than that. The most obvious, to me, was that, yes, I like to draw people in places. In particular I like to draw them in their places (at home, carrying on with their everyday lives 1,2,3,4) and in places that are actively not theirs:  travelling/exploring (1,2,3), or shiftily sneaking around (1,2,3).

Two other clear themes emerged. I like to draw close intimate moments between people: whether they’re happy or sad or somewhere in between. And there’s also a theme I like to refer to as Ozymandias. What is it exactly? Something about the passage of time, the eternal nature of the universe in comparison with our little lives. This incorporates ruins, deep sea creatures, the infinitude of space, and anything else that makes us feel small. Generally in a positive way!

Obviously all of these themes can overlap in any number of ways. And there are extra themes I added to the mindmap too, some in between those already mentioned, and others kind of standing out on their own.


I also gave the themes some vague names, because the goal of all this is to explore themes I like, not to box myself in to creating work within certain categories. It’s worth trying to make art for all the different emotions. Hesitant-uncertain-determined, contented-confident-relaxed, tired-relieved-loving, embarassed-awkward-torn, and so on. But there are some things I come back to. Some things my brain wants to explore. And you can see from my examples across many years that… this isn’t something I did deliberately. I was trying to draw a wide array of compositions, movements, characters, settings. But I did keep coming back to these themes.

I’m sure there are other themes too, that I haven’t noticed or fully understood yet. On the mindmap you’ll notice I’ve written “why robots? why dragons?” and that’s because, well, I don’t really know exactly why they find their way into my work. That’s okay.

I’m going to be noting down further themes throughout the month, but this is definitely a lot to go on with, in the meantime.

robot building twinsFIX ARM

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