Cleonique Hilsaca Explains Why Digital Artists Still Need Sketchbooks

"Animals with Sweaters" from "Objects of My Affection"

"Animals with Sweaters" from "Objects of My Affection"

Today Georgia-based Honduran artist Cleonique Hilsaca released her third digital collection on NeonMob. "Objects of My Affection" are colorful and whimsical illustrations depicting 100 of Hilsaca's favorite things, including animals in sweaters, making zines, visiting cemeteries, and bike rides.

"Bumblebees" from "Objects of My Affection"

"Bumblebees" from "Objects of My Affection"

Hilsaca, who moved to Savannah, George from Tegucigalpa, Hondura to attend Savannah College of Art and Design, is a freelance illustrator. Her graphic style is character-driven – mainly focused on a girl with a big poof of long, curly black hair, a cartoon version of the artist as a young woman. 

"Curiosity" from "Objects of My Affection"

"Curiosity" from "Objects of My Affection"

Although Hilsaca mainly creates her work in digital format, one of the most important tools she uses is the sketchbook. She told me, "Since I work mostly digital at this time in my career, I don't get to experiment much with other mediums and techniques but the one thing I do often is sketch. Sketching and inking my drawings in my many sketchbooks aids me in idea exploration and eases my hand into drawing and inking the way I want my work to look like. Working on my sketchbooks makes working on the computer much easier as my idea is fully explored and then I just need to recreate it on the screen."

"Bike Rides" from "Objects of My Affection"

"Bike Rides" from "Objects of My Affection"

For Hilsaca, sketchbooks are also a way for artist to slow down the pace of the digital world, to make time to not only make the best work, but to learn more about themselves and their style. "Many people are eager to have finished work as often and quickly as possible and forget that the best of art took patience and time to put together," she explains. "If I were to teach someone something that I feel is helpful to remember it'd be to carry a sketchbook wherever you go (you never know when inspiration will hit you!), to treat your sketchbooks as a work of art, as seriously as you would a finished piece, but with the freedom of exploring your lines, shapes, textures and colors in any way you want. It is a place to discover yourself and translate that into your finished work. For people that are still trying to identify with a 'style,' sketching your way through sketchbook after sketchbook will let you find your voice, a voice that was always there to begin with!"

"Winter" from "Objects of My Affection"

"Winter" from "Objects of My Affection"

Time and space for reflection is also important to Hilsaca because it's not something artists are taught in school, but something they have to create for themselves. "In school you learn to follow the guidelines of every project and the direction of the teachers about our work. This is great when it comes to working with clients, keeping deadlines and sticking to each projects guidelines, but what they don't teach you, as it is not something they can teach, is how to figure out what YOU want to create and be disciplined enough to make it happen."

"Working" from "Objects of My Affection"

"Working" from "Objects of My Affection"

Self-discipline is not easy, but it's what makes you a stronger artist. "Most of your development as an artist won't happen in class, but in your tiny room, full of books, sketchbooks and scraps. With a dim light, fiercely drawing at midnight with a belly full of coffee and snacks. When you doubt yourself the most, but you still keep going. When you fall, and don't think twice to get up. When your work doesn't look like the image in your head, but you get closer every time."

"Travel" from "Objects of My Affection"

"Travel" from "Objects of My Affection"

"I always worked outside of class and even though my work never looked quite like I wanted it to, I knew I was getting closer. I couldn't see improvement until six months to a year had gone by. I've learned to be patient with myself and to enjoy every step of the way. To work on projects that I love, no matter where they may end up or nowhere at all. And the best thing I've learned for myself is that I am not working for others, I am creating for me and me alone and if I love what I'm doing, I'm sure others will too because if I don't, how can I expect them to?"