This illustration was made as part of my Illustration class at the University of Minnesota. The assignment stipulated illustrating an image of "Understanding in the Age of Anxiety" with an aspect ratio of 5:7 created digitally or by hand.
This was easy enough, however, the stress of the assignment was the process. After preliminary sketching and brainstorming, three concepts would be developed into one final image. All this was to be documented in a process journal and references log (including references of style, form, and what understanding anxiety looks like).
Beginning the Process
To start I created a mind map, and then began with a simple google search, "Anxiety."
The first thing that popped up was a medical description of the word, "Anxiety is a normal and often healthy emotion. However, when a person regularly feels disproportionate levels of anxiety, it might become a medical disorder. Anxiety disorders form a category of mental health diagnoses that lead to excessive nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worry."
From there I began a search for images related to both anxiety and understanding anxiety. I pulled a handful of images for both. These felt most representative of the subject to me. I then pasted them into a word document, and began sketching.
When I sketch (above), I end up filling up several pages drawing on an idea and then another in the margins of the first. Two strong concepts emerged: A person with a snake wrapped tightly around them (symbolizing fear) and a person surrounded by spikes. From concept sketches, I moved onto formal drawings and roughs (below).
From here I need to select a method/style by which I would create my image: digitally or traditionally. At the time I was extremely frustrated with the nature and quality of the work that I had been making on Adobe Illustrator. Everything I created no matter what I did to avoid it, ended up looking the same. Everything looked like a vector drawing because everything was a vector drawing and consequently, made it feel cold and unfeeling.
To counteract this I had to improve my skills with traditional methods. For this project I settled on a method where I would do the majority of my work by hand on paper. I scanned these and combined layering, touch-ups, and adjustments to create my final image.