First off, art is subjective… no matter how good you are, there will ALWAYS be someone out there who doesn’t like your art.
I’ve always drawing things for ME. It’s just a plus that other people dig my work. But I’m not waking up every morning and going “I wonder what people want to see?” I know of a LOT of artists who work up illustrations of things they hate or don’t care about… sure, they make some money off that art, but to me, I’d rather draw something I love rather than labor through something I hate.
So, yeah, draw what you want to see and what you like… I’ve done alright doing so!
As far as improving skill… sadly, there’s no trick or shortcut to getting better. There’s one way and one way only.
DRAWING. ALL. THE. TIME.
Easier said than done, I know. But my own art has made such a leap in the past 6 years, and it’s all due to one thing: drawing all the time. Drawing a lot improves your skill, you get faster, you learn what works for you and what doesn’t, you gain confidence which in turn allows you to try out different approaches and the process starts all over again.
I have examples.
That’s a page from my high school comic, “Urban Jungle.” I drew it February 24, 1998! I was 16 years old. It’s not bad, and at the time I felt like I could go and draw X-Men for a living. Then I went to college, drew a whole bunch, got better. Let’s skip ahead to late 2010.
This is a page from Very Near Mint vol. 1. I’m working completely digitally here. Again, at the time I thought “YEAH! THIS IS GREAT!” and felt really good… I was still getting my feet wet working digitally, I had lots to learn yet and was really only scratching the surface. Let’s skip to February 2014.
I picked this page because it’s a call back to the previous example. This is from Very Near Mint vol. 3. My line work is more bold, the characters have evolved, I’m using some new digital tools to blur the line between the physical art world and digital art world.
I’m still working. I’m still trying. I’m nowhere near perfect, I want to get better, I’m hungry to improve. It’s not something that happens overnight, or even over 16 years. You get BETTER, but you can always improve. And there’s one way to do that—