The self portrait can sometimes be the most challenging piece to create as an artist. We are constantly growing, changing, and evolving our body of work- so, is the goal to portray ourselves in a way that will bridge stylistic gaps? Or do we illustrate ourselves like a snapshot of a specific style or color scheme that we’ve been using most recently? And then there is the question of how we see ourselves. Do we go hyper realistic, stylized, minimalist? And what do those choices say not only about our work, but about who we are as individuals? These may seem like some really over-dramatic questions for something as simple as a self portrait, but I think that these things all go through our heads, at least subconsciously. As illustrators, we may not even realize that we are going through the motions and making decisions along the way- but I believe that we are.
When I started my senior self portrait, I wanted to be loose with my subject matter. I literally wanted to draw what is important to me- the things that I like to illustrate and what I surround myself with in my daily life. Those who know me and my work know that I love nature, travel, and self-discovery. I wanted to put all of these things together, to create a portrait that represents not just who I am as a person, but who I am as an illustrator.
I had a difficult time trying to decide whether I wanted to obscure my face or not. I worked with some different crops, but in the end, I decided to put my face in the center. Like many other artists, I often feel concealed by my work, but I felt that I needed to illustrate my face fully, looking forward. It represents who I am now and who I hope to continue to be in the future.
Lastly, I needed to decide how to render my portrait after I had completed the linework. This is always a fussy experience for me, but at this point I know what colors I enjoy working with, and I used that as a way to guide me in the right direction. I like to spread color around the composition, in different, sometimes unusual ways. In this piece, pink was a very important color. It appears naturally in the flowers and un-naturally in my eyes, hair, and skin. Pink has always resonated with me in an almost spiritual way, and I felt that it absolutely needed to be included.
After working in the correct dimensions for the portrait, I modified the composition a bit to include more of what I feel represents me in a comfortable format.
- Jay Crosby