It has been a big week. And before that were 6 more big weeks. And all of them amazingly good. The best start to a year ever, even if I have bits of anxiety creeping in, telling me that I “haven’t done anything yet”.

You can see my travel sketchbook here, and I imagine that in the next few weeks and months you’ll probably see lots more of me using my holiday photos and memories as reference and inspiration. I definitely wanna draw lots of ruins. With cats. And maybe robots. 

I’ve built up a huge well of ideas to draw from and now honestly I just want to be making things. So here’s to the newish year, I hope we all have a good one 🙂

Hey all!

I’m going away in a few days and I won’t be back til the end of Jan. I’ll probably be posting holiday pics to insta (@sylvia_morris) if you wanna see what I’m up to. Will I be on tumblr? Who knows. At the very least I’ll try to share links to my Fandom Trumps Hate bidding page in the first half of Jan and answer any asks about which fandoms I’m willing to draw for.

And when I get back there’ll be a travel sketchbook and I’ll finish off a bunch of Starthorn Tree pics (see above) that are in various stages of completion…

I hope you all have lovely holidays with good food and good company ❤

Shout Out to the Girls, process + cover

The cover (not designed by me) has been released! I posted my portraits! Everything is happening! Well, the book itself isn’t coming out til Feb/March… but still, you can pre-order!

Early on in the year I was wandering through a book shop and I noticed some cool non-fiction titles in the kids section and I wondered if I’d ever get to contribute to something like those. And then in July I got an email inviting me to create some portraits for a book celebrating Australian women. (Everyone always says that publishing houses just contact you out of the blue, but I didn’t really believe it. It’s a hard thing to believe. You especially don’t believe they’re gonna contact you about your dream project.)

Anyway, one thing I didn’t consider in my dream-fantasies (because you never have anxiety when you’re imagining all the cool opportunities you might have) was the weight of responsibility of illustrating a non-fiction book for kids. It was only once I’d signed my contract that I started to panic. For a whole bunch of reasons. But mostly because Nancy Wake and Elizabeth Blackburn are not recognisably iconic women. Which means that there will be lots of kids (who grow into adults) for whom my illustrations of these women will be the way they imagine them. A fixed image on paper, created by me, will anchor their interpretation of entire other humans. So that’s terrifying.

I spent a lot of time sketching them, which helped. This was easier for Blackburn, who lives in a time of digital photos, than for Wake, but I dredged up enough photos of Wake to eventually feel comfortable with my drawings of her too. And I tried to get to know them, by reading interviews, so I could compose the images in ways that made sense for who they were and what they’d done. 

Eventually the fear went away and I’m pretty happy, in the end, that they feel *right*. I can always improve artistically, and that’s not a problem. I’m never going to see a picture of mine and think “ah yes, this is perfect, no errors at all! couldn’t be better!” But I can look at my own work and think that overall, at its essence, it feels like it’s trying to do the right things. And that’s how these feel.

Lemme know if you have any Qs about my process. I’m never really sure what of the BTS stuff is interesting, but I thought some of the face sketches would be cool so I popped some up there 🙂

A traditional blog, perhaps?

One thing #inktober has unexpectedly brought up for me is that I need to find a better way of using the internet. 

I want to hear about my friends’ lives. I want to keep up with important news and cultural conversations. I want to discover new creators and creations. I want to keep my work somewhere that makes it likely that art directors will think of me. I want to share my adventures with my friends.

But I don’t want ~the internet~ to take all of my time and make me sad. I don’t want to feel panicked about not posting any ‘finished art’ for weeks at a time. I want to stop feeling like there’s a conversation I’m forgetting in another app.

It’s hard that most of my social interactions happen online, especially those interactions that are about illustration and/or political happenings. It’s hard to be a person, with all the bits and pieces of your life spilling into each other.

I don’t have an answer yet. I considered just signing out of twitter for a month. Maybe I don’t need to listen in on all the conversations about diversity and inclusion and decolonisation that happen daily on my feed? Because maybe it’d be better if I read more essays, books, and poetry by these authors – instead of just reading their twitter accounts? I’m definitely considering shutting down my personal tumblr account.

But at the centre of it all, I did realise that a blog-style thing might be a good idea. A place where I can share the things I’ve been doing, and creators whose work I’ve been loving, in a focussed way, rather than a haphazard collection all over the place.

So, what’ve I been up to?

I’m writing some maths articles for the kid’s magazine AQUILA, which is a lot of fun. They seem generous with their readers, asking them to think deeply about the world around them, and I like that. My first article is in the January issue 🙂

I’m hanging out for the cover of Shout Out to the Girls to be released, and hopefully some more names of women who are in the book, so I can squee loudly at you about that.

I’ve also been watching a lot (A LOT) of the Doctor Blake Mysteries. I’m even considering driving to Ballarat tomorrow (where it’s set) just so I can convince myself to go outdoors instead of watching 10 episodes in a row.

I’m starting a new art project (self-directed) with some strict rules for myself, so I’ll show you that when it’s done in 6 weeks 😀

Cool things around the web:

Some great people are doing fundraisers with their Inktober sketches, so you can buy pretty art at the same time as giving money to help out some people who need it. Erika Meza is drawing beautiful Mexican animals and raising money for the areas in Mexico that were badly hit by an earthquake. Sage Howard is drawing curious island buildings and raising money for Puerto Rico hurricane relief.

I’ve been really enjoying (and inspired by) Pam Smy and I wanna get my hands on a copy of her book Thornhill. I feel like our greyscale work of solid flats and textured details has some similarity and that inspired me to try out some physical paint this week. I know a lot of illustrators worry about not copying other artists’ style. But my general rule is just to try and learn from as many as possible, so that you’re never going to be caught up being too close to anyone else.

Wanna learn the basics of clothing folds? These two links (scanned pages of Famous Artists Course) are super helpful: 1, 2.

Anyway, we’ll see how this goes. I don’t want to lose the good parts of the internet but I do need to make some changes. I hope you all have a great week!