For over a year before my mission and a couple years after, I worked on-campus illustrating for Independent Study, helping to create BYU's online classes. It was a chance to draw, experiment, learn, and get paid for it.
For almost every project I decided on a different style to fit the subject matter. I will admit, some of the styles I tried ended up being less successful than others, but the chance to experiment was invaluable. I don't think my supervisor, Suzy Gerhart, quite knew what to do with me--the only thing she could predict that I would do is try something new. I prided myself, however, on sticking to my deadlines as much as possible--I did miss a few, but by and large I got them done on time, and when I was going to be late, I let Suzy know.
I worked almost exclusively in Illustrator, while nearly all of the other illustrators there chose to work in Photoshop. As I experimented stylistically, I got to know that program inside and out, which turned out to be an amazing advantage as I left school. I certainly don't know everything about illustrator, but I'm confident that I can figure out how to do anything I want to do using that program.
One of the best things I learned working for Independent Study was to not take a critique personally. It helped a lot that Suzy was pretty good-natured about my experimenting, and nearly always gave helpful feedback. Most of her suggestions either legitimately improved my illustrations or were just a matter of opinion, and in neither case did it hurt me to make the requested changes.
I still have a few things from Independent Study on my portfolio page. Here are a few more, most of which aren't on that page, in no particular order:
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