Working in reverse
This may be the only time I've worked this way. For the benefit of students here's a breakdown. I'd be curious if others have had similar experiences working this way.
Taking a sketch from my archive of pencil drawings I explored a digital technique intended to be a kind of collage meets print process. While this could work as a gallery piece, as illustration it's nothing more than an icon. It needed something more. My notes said 'something curvy, a surfboard, a hammock, for sale sign"
Now there's a bit of a story or idea. "Slice of Paradise For Sale". Still, as an image I felt it too stark and perhaps too obvious...
Playing with viewer expectation is something that many of the illustrators I admire do very well. Guy Billout & Christoph Neimann come to mind. I encourage it in my students. My concept illustration teacher at OCA, Jerzy Kolacz used to refer to it as 'a little twist'. As in 'it's a pretty picture but it needs a little twist'. I tend to default to just a pretty picture, but I'm working on it. Anyway, less obvious than a for sale sign is a direction sign, but rather than faraway geographic destinations I substituted faraway states of mind. The image still needed a human element. Perhaps a bit more whimsy to drive it home...
The final illustration. The toughest decisions for me are at the final stages of an illustration. Minute choices in color, composition...whether to add one more thing or strip something away. I've learned that if it 'feels good' it's done and that most of these micro decisions matter a lot less than I think.