Are you an artist and the thought of live sketching scares you a bit? At one point in my career I was absolutely terrified of live sketching! I considered myself a perfectionist and took pride in executing every detail in my illustrations perfectly. I accepted the fact that maybe that was not my strength and to stick to what I was most comfortable with. That all changed the day Saks Fifth Avenue reached out to me. I realized I had to face my fear if I wanted to further my career and pursue art on a full-time basis.
The funny part is that live sketching is one of my all time favorite things about my career! I love interacting with customers and meeting new people while providing a unique service that gives attendees a gift that they can take home on the spot and have forever. It is the best feeling when I run into people I have met at other events and they tell me how they have my illustration framed in their home. There simply is no better feeling than this.
I put together a list of advice for anyone contemplating giving it a try!
1. Relax! I know this might sound a bit obvious but this is nearly impossible if you are nervous or overthinking. I tend to get in a sort of flow state where all of the lines come naturally. I trust my instincts when sketching and people always seem to enjoy the finished product. Let's face it, if someone is not artistically inclined they will be impressed. :) Just like I am blown away when I hear a beautiful voice or witness an athlete in action. So don't be too hard on yourself if you aren't 100% satisfied of the finished outcome. I mean a 5 minute sketch on the spot with lots of people watching is something to be proud of!
2. Be prepared...but not overly. You are probably thinking, wouldn't someone want to be overly prepared for these sorts of things? I mean being prepared is always a good thing, isn' it? Well in my experience I've learned to just bring the essentials. My first events I packed every medium and back-up supplies. I was carrying WAY TOO much and didn't use half of my supplies. I've learned less is more. Your work area looks more presentable and you aren't overwhelmed with too many options to pick from when drawing.
3. Bring the materials that are easy clean up. Now not everyone might agree with me on this one but I realized that Copic and Tombow markers work best for live sketch events. I used to use pastels and paint and felt that they were too messy and the paint took a bit too long to try. If you feel most comfortable with the above then go for it! It is all about trusting your instincts.
4. Put emphasis on peoples best features. When I am live sketching I try and focus on the persons best features. Whether they have killer eyes or amazing over the top hair I always emphasize them in my artwork. People usually notice and are flattered that you brought special attention to their uniqueness.
5. Socialize. I'm all about focusing but there comes a time to live in the moment and connect to the people in front of you. I've learned so many lessons and met a ton of amazing people at my sketch events that I still talk to today.