Today I received portfolio reviews from two very talented and well-established illustrators, who reminded me of a few things that I seem to have forgotten about in the past year. I hesitate to name them here, since I respect the suggestions they gave me and I would prefer to keep their identities private.
One of these suggestions was that I work on more humans. My portfolio was all birds, except for a couple of pieces. Last year, when Yuko Shimizu visited SCAD-Atlanta, she said the same exact thing about my portfolio, and it was a bit disheartening for me to realize that for an entire year, I haven't created anything non-bird related that I was pleased with enough to place in my portfolio. My plan for this year (aside from completing my thesis), is to work on more human-figure work.
The two artists I spoke with had no problems with my work having fantasy elements - in fact, one of the illustrators has worked for Tor Books, and his own portfolio has a bit of fantasy. As the other illustrator said, "you're great at birds. You've got the birds down. Now lets see some people."
I am going to listen to her advice. I'm quite excited with the ideas that are coming to mind.