Sometime around 7th grade, I just stopped drawing. No idea why, except that maybe it had something to do with a general lack of confidence and a greater awareness of boy bands and Abercrombie shopping bags. No matter the reason, the fact remains that for 15 years, that skill lay dormant—getting rusty and becoming quite unfamiliar.
When I started my program at MCAD two years ago, I realized illustration would be a good skill to have in my toolbox, but I brushed it off as just something that wasn't for me. After all, I hadn't sketched in years and had no idea how to handle anything like that digitally. Then during a summer children's book illustration class, I couldn't even figure out what my style was anymore let alone actually apply it to my work in some sort of meaningful way. It seemed like maybe that part of me had just been unused for too long and I was frustrated and embarrassed by my seeming inability to draw literally anything. (Perfectionist tendencies are real...)
What a strange sensation it was—to have something that was once a defining skill feel so completely foreign. It was like an awkward happy hour with a childhood friend that you've barely kept up with on Facebook.
It wasn't until last winter, when I was navigating the new world of motion graphics, that I found myself wanting to incorporate illustration into my work more intentionally. Using any of my drawings in my work was admittedly very difficult and incredibly time-consuming. It was not a muscle I had flexed in a very long time and I felt clumsy and childish. Nevertheless, I broke out the pencils and pens and sketchbooks of old and much to my surprise, managed to create some imagery worth using.
In the months since I first illustrated a tiny Maren flying away from a bus stop or illustrated and collaged an adorable seasonal wardrobe, I've tried to find time to sketch once in awhile. These evening drawings are rough, but are beginning to feel familiar again. I'm also using them as practice in sharing imperfect work, process, and the less-polished side of my creativity. Who would have thought my drawings would end up as a lesson in vulnerability?
There's something to be said for playing to your strengths, but I think I like the idea of stretching myself more. Besides, my drawing hand and I are old friends—we just need to get reacquainted and acknowledge how we've grown.