Creating a new avatar, or a self-portrait in progress

Creating a new avatar, or a self-portrait in progress

This week’s project was about creating a new avatar for my various social media accounts. My current one was a portion of an image I created for my 365 Drawing Experiment and wasn’t meant to be an avatar, i.e. an image that still reads well when scaled down.




Here’s what it looks like right now on Twitter: not too bad for an improvised avatar, but I still want to refresh that look (enough with the stripes and the beret already!). PLUS, I have much shorter hair, now, so there’s that, right?





I doodled and tested several ideas in Photoshop, including the ones below. Some of them are especially ugly (I’m looking at you, pseudo-realistic first draft), but that’s almost always how things work for me: I start ugly, then I refine, hopefully. I know I share a glimpse of my process almost every week but this week feels a little different and more difficult, maybe because of the nature of the exercise. I’m showing you a little bit of my soul here. And it is cat-shaped, apparently.





I enjoyed the idea of a mixing the 2 faces with an eye in common, but didn’t manage to make it look completely convincing. I haven’t abandoned the idea of the bottom right option, with just the cat silhouette on the face, though: it dawned on me that it looks like a cutesy version of one of David Bowie’s most iconic picture, which I find quite amusing.

I did end up testing a more classic approach. Just like last week with the Soundcloud thumbnail, I needed to create something square that would look good on a very small scale, so I always kept an eye on that. Here are some contenders:



But since it’s my avatar and not my cat’s, why does she have to be in the picture? Well. She doesn’t HAVE to, but… do you want the whole story, that goes a little beyond me being a cat lady? During last year’s 365 Drawing Experiment, I thought I had invented this funny little ritual for myself, where each card celebrating a milestone (like the card n°100 above) featured my cat and I, or just my cat. 365 drawings meant many hours spent in my studio, alone except for Pounette, always sleeping somewhere cozy (like inside my hoodie), or awake and directly in the heart of the action, i.e. on top of any surface or tool I wished to be using. Like a mascot, or a muse. Or just a cat being a cat, to say things more plainly.






Now, one of the reasons I wanted to draw a self-portrait sooner rather than later was not because of a new haircut, but to mark a milestone: it was my birthday a few weeks ago. A big one. For the occasion, I went back to what I posted on this blog 10 years ago, in 2005: a little comic I drew to mark my 30th birthday (which means I’m 40 now, sheesh), and there it was, a reminder that the ritual I thought I created last year wasn’t new after all. What is that on the last vignette of the comic, that I copied below for your utter delight, or at least mine? My cat and I. Nothing new under the sun, eh?






So here’s to enduring rituals and to a new decade, with a self-portrait that is still a work in progress. How perfectly fitting!