We’ve all been there. You work really hard on something. It could be a piece of writing, or art or whatever it is that you make. It’s finally finished and you are pretty satisfied with it and glad to be done. You show it to some friends and family members and they are like, “Wow! That’s amazing! I could never make that.” You're feeling on top of the world.
But then you show it to that one person in your life who always tells you the truth. We'll call them, "The Critic." Maybe it’s your best friend, or your husband, or your sister, or your mentor ... or, I don’t know ... this is all hypothetical, but maybe you even showed it to an art director at Simon and Schuster (a hypothetical art director of course).
You halfway expect them to tell you its perfect because everyone else has, and you think maybe this time you have finally made something that is bulletproof. But then you hear, “You know what would make this better?”
You cringe. You go through the emotional stages of grief because you can’t even imagine working on this piece again. But deep down, you know that you can’t just ignore The Critic—after all, they always tell the truth. Their suggestion nags at you for days or weeks until you realize you have to do it, because if you don't, every time you look at this particular piece of work, you’ll wish you’d made the change.
That’s what happened with this illustration, which is a spread for my picture book dummy. And no matter how much I dig my heels in and don't want to revisit things that I've declared "finished," I am always amazed at how much you can improve a piece of art with each pass. I have never regretted taking the time to make an illustration better.
I’m not saying that you should go back and revise all of your old illustrations, but if it's in your portfolio or part of a project you are going to submit, and every time you look at it you see this one thing you wish you had done differently, you should consider taking the time to revise it. After finishing this illustration for the second time, I can see how much better it tells the story and I know it was worth it.