The Aging Illustrator

Let’s face it… I’m getting old and the aches and pains are starting to set in. For me, that means carpal tunnel syndrome. It’s nothing new, I’ve been fighting it since about 2008 when working for FedEx and Brinks really started to damage my hands from repetitive use (pushing boxes and hefting coins).

Last week I finished this project I had been working on for the past 3 years. It was a personal goal to draw an animal for each letter of the alphabet. I started the project in 2016 with a few critters but it got put on the back burner several times while I worked on other projects both personal and professional.

Alphabet Animals A to ZZ

While working on the Yak last week, I realized how painful illustrating by hand had become to me. I sat alone and cried for a bit, not just because of the pain, but because of the realization that it wasn’t going to get better… that I wasn’t that young kid who used to lay on her belly on Friday nights in front of the TV with a bunch of paper and pencils and draw for hours while watching some late night horror show. I couldn’t lay on my belly (at all) or draw for more than about an hour or so these days. Hopefully, with the help of ice packs (try it, you’ll love it) and an OTC anti-inflammatory I’ll get better. (Thanks for the free medical advice, Dad!) So far, I’ve been able to regain a lot of the feeling I had lost in my thumb. 🙂

I’ve always been creative and I’ve always worked hard to keep doing creative things. I look for them all the time. I play with chalkboards, chalk and chalk pens. I do calligraphy, I play the ukulele and I spend a few minutes of every day, learning German because it’s supposed to be good for your brain. I recently discovered colored pencils and I think I may have a particular way to use them that suits my style and combines them with pen (my favorite medium).


Becoming an aging illustrator is rough, though I feel it’s something I just have to keep doing because I love it so much. As for being an aging graphic designer? Well, that’s still pretty easy on the body, except for maybe sitting at a desk for long periods of time. Either way, I love both and can’t imagine my life any other way.