MATS Mantra Competition

This piece was a competition piece for MATS (make art that sells) mantra.  The goal was to encompass the feeling you get when you're taking a MATS course.  And, although I didn't win the big prize, I was able to use Illustrator in a new way for me.

See, I've been trying to nail down my style, and I absolutely love working digitally, but it lacks the grittiness and texture of my hand-illustrated and painted work.  So I've been trying to merge the two elements somehow (flat color + texture).

Here is what I came up with:


And this is how I got there:

I started out with pencil and ink sketches.  I had about 30 different thumbnails, and picked the heart-sun one because it was the most visually engaging.  

I refined the image, traced it into Illustrator, and using a light-table I used overlays to play around with text.

Here is the image before I added text, texture, gradients, etc.

I almost stopped there... but it needed texture!!  You can see the hand-written text below.  I had several versions of each snippet of text.  Lots of versions of everything!



And finally, I went in and "texturized" the background.  It was a weird feeling to paint the background with texture and grit, but I think it works for this piece.  And, even though I didn't win the big prize, I did win a free entry into MATS Global Talent Search!  Woot!!