Catarina Bernardi - Illustration and Visual Media
Although I used to!
Hi there, I’m Catarina and I’m on the third year of my BA in Illustration and Visual Media only now realizing that illustrating is not what I do best.
I’ll briefly back up this claim: a lot of art students out there have that same cliche story of “I’ve been drawing since I was a child”, and in my teenage years I found out about the option to be an illustrator. And this seemed like the ideal career for me. Drawing to make a living? Sign me up! From that moment onward, that’s what I decided to work towards that - a little precipitated some might say. I invested a big part of my time studying drawing, painting techniques, trying to develop my style and I even had the opportunity at being a type of commissioned independent artist for a while - which didn’t turn out to be as great as I imagined. And then, there was university. I was thrilled to be joining a course where I would come out a Bachelor in Illustration (and Visual Media). However, in the first year the concept of what illustration was had already been flipped inside and out and my eyes were open to other forms of illustrating that went far beyond pen and paper - or tablet and computer in these days.
In the beginning of the second year, the students were asked to create a personal manifesto, in which I claimed: “I believe in illustration as a form of communication, essential to human life.” Words that I still agree, but as time went by I focused more on the communication rather than the illustration. Through the year I was excited about the projects I received and I delved deeply into research, brainstorming Ideas, seeing them from every angle possible; to the point that my sketchbook had more words than drawings on them. And when it was time to turn my ideas into nice final visuals, I struggled. Either with technique, experimentation or finalizing it. It was never quite right. I enjoyed the creative process a lot, but, from project to project, I varied so much from technique and style that I never felt I was good at anything, not even drawing - which was something I always had as my strong suit.
Arriving at the Preparatory DPS sessions, I was feeling very unsure. I didn’t know what I liked, I didn’t know what I was good at or if even where I would fit in the industry. However, I had to put together a portfolio and that is what really helped to be reflective of my own work. Seeing the projects I liked all together made me look for something in common amongst them - my said “strong point”. And, after a lot of reorganizing, reediting and much needed feedback sessions I came to a conclusion: I am good at creating concepts. I can research for days and days for a brief, try to see it from a million different angles, understand everything about my target audience, find every possible artists reference I could to then take a step back, have an insight and create a concept out of it - which would later be transformed into visual communication. However, this meant letting go - at least for now - of something I always thought I was going to do: be an illustrator.
It’s not uncommon to know people who have changed courses 3 times, or drastically switched careers. In times where we live in a “dash career” mode (a person is a a designer / animator / content creator / freelance pastry chef) it is only natural that one would have a wide range of set skills and that there is a big difference between their graduation subject to their actual jobs. In the future (near or far), I might change my mind again and decide to be a comics illustrator or a set designer, and I can even be all of them. However, for this DPS I have to start somewhere to get my foot in the door, and for the time being, I’m choosing to focus on this concept creating / art direction pathway (which is still very broad). I can definitely say I didn’t envision not being a traditional illustrator 3 years ago, when I was joining my BA, but I’m thankful for my process - which in fact is only starting. And now I went back to drawing, as a hobby.
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