I wanted to share a few thoughts I had on the process of creating an illustration--something that has helped me grow a great deal as an artist - and perhaps in posting it here I could help someone else improve.
I often use chess (a game I love) for my analogies because chess is such a good teacher of patience and perseverance, among other things. Both of which are very useful in the art world and especially when trying to be successful as a freelancer.
As I've slowly whittled down my decisions in terms of my style, I've begun to take more time to plan and create my final drawings. In chess the saying goes, "if you see a good move, look for a better one." This simple idea has made such a huge difference in the quality of my work over the past few months. It's so easy to stop at the fourth or fifth thumbnail sketch and jump at the first good idea you have. Your heart skips a beat, and you feel a rush of excitement. That's it! You think. But don't stop there. There is always a better idea waiting for you. Trust me, give it a try, and see your compositions improve in leaps and bounds. Don't touch that paintbrush (or wacom pad for you digital illustrators), until you really have something special and have pushed yourself a little. Good luck :0)