Being an illustrator means you end up knowing a little about a lot--you're always called on to research this or that in preparation for an assignment, or the assignment requires reading a story or article or whatever. So you pick up a lot of random information and become fairly broadly educated, though a master of few areas.
I decided to discuss the topic of going the other direction--focusing on a couple of areas of interest and then spending considerable time learning them. This can be anything, and it often may not relate to one's artwork at all, especially at first. Is there a value in doing this, when the business of illustration itself can be such an all-consuming occupation? Should I spend hundreds of hours a year learning more about (insert extra-curricular topic)? I could, after all, have turned out X number of additional full paintings each year with that time, or just improved my technique through additional practice/study in art. Why spend that time, say, learning about some species of birds' migration patterns, just because it interests me? And if I don't intend to be a programmer, why spend so much free time learning Java simply because I find it interesting? (I don't do either of those, btw)
I think the answer is yes, there is value in this sort of time-consuming extra-curricular study. So I decided to interview a couple of folks to discuss this with. I managed to grab a couple of amazing guests, and you can read about it all over here.
I promised a process/technique post a couple weeks back. I'll have that for you next week!