New Year (illustration) resolutions; how do you make one you’ll keep?

It may be that you want to start an illustration practice, find you illustration style or to illustrate a picture book – I’m sure you can all reel off a list of resolutions made … and broken.

Here are 10 tips as to how you can keep them.

  1. Loss aversion – There is evidence that humans are driven by loss aversion – that is, we are more motivated to recover loss than we are to win gains. Framing a resolution as recovering something lost – whether it’s that a daily drawing practice you used to do or revisiting that an ‘almost there’ illustration – may be more effective than looking to gain an ability. This also feeds into another key piece of advice when it comes to successful resolutions…

  2. Start small – if you’re thinking of illustrating a picture book, but you don’t know where to start. My Skillshare classes breakdown of the many processes that I use when developing characters for a picture book. From the things that I need to consider before starting work on a story, designing character, all the way through to deciding on an illustration technique. Here’s a blog about how the list of classes in sequence work. Once you’ve got a handle on the basics in character design, you might then consider the bigger picture – learning how to illustrate a story or getting your portfolio ‘publisher ready’ by enrolling my 8-week Picture Book Illustration e-Course.
  3. Involve other people – we are more likely to keep resolutions if we can see them as being somehow important to other people. That might mean committing to attend a class with a friend. I’ve noticed this exact thing with the pilot group that I put together last year. Participants who worked together and shared their work, were far more successful than students who kept to themselves. Through their work, posts, comments and feedback, here’s what previous Picture Book Illustration e-Course participants had to say about their 8-week adventure!

    From sketch to final artwork – Belinda Ryan 

  4. Invest in yourself – the effect is even stronger if you have to pay in advance – once we feel that we have invested time and money in something, we are more likely to see through our commitments. So if you’ve committed to Skillshare for the year, a weekend workshop or an e-course, know that you’ve done the right thing, as your investment is going to help you keep on track.
  5. Reputation – is a powerful motivator. Making your resolutions public and sharing your progress with an illustration community or on your own social media, can really help keep them, since the fear of what people might think if you don’t see them through will add to your resolve. And sharing your illustration journey will also inspire others to do the same … and that is only a good thing.
  6. Detail – Making detailed resolutions is important. So saying, “I’ll illustrate on Tuesday afternoons and Saturday mornings” is more likely to be successful than simply saying “This year I’ll illustrate a picture book.”

    Illustration by Amy Calautti

  7. Take time out – One step at a time – if you want to learn how to draw better this year, you might begin by watching, let’s say, my classes on your commute each morning. To improve your chances of success further, you could stick a note to your tablet or computer screen at the end of the day to remind you to watch a class on your morning commute or while you’re taking a lunch break for example.
  8. Make smaller ‘chunks’ from your bigger long-term plan – the best resolutions are the ones that achieve a smaller chunk of a longer-term plan you have for yourself, rather than those that are vague and aspirational. If you’d like to illustrate a picture book (your longer-term plan), then start by working through my suit of Skillshare classes for example or enrolling into my more comprehensive 8-week Picture Book Illustration e-Course.
  9. Change habits – Work out what your triggers are, both to negative behaviour you want to discourage (like staying up late watching sitcom repeats) and positive behaviour you want to encourage (your daily drawing practice).

    Alicia Cash’s workspace

  10. Make a plan – To keep a resolution, you have to have to plan!  Here’s a link to my illustration plan printable, to help get you started.

If you’d like to enrol into the Picture Book Illustration e-Course starting February 15 – April 5, please email me your interest at

Remember to start small, and I look forward to seeing a lot more illustration from you this year.

Warm wishes – Nina x

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