A few things I'm learning as an illustrator:
Shapes — it's all about the shapes. If you don't have good lines and shapes, no amount of texture,color or effects is gonna save you. Obsess and stress over your shapes. Jerrod Maruyama taught me this one.
DRY — Don't repeat yourself and clone and flip objects to save time. @Joey Ellis taught me this. People can tell that your stuff was made by a computer and in the fastest time possible. Take the time to make your stuff human — it's one of the few differences we have from the machines.
Iterate — Do lots of iterations to come up with clever color combos after you build your shapes. Colors/technique are so important. Just like bad shapes can ruin great textures and colors, bad colors, textures and technique can ruin great shapes. Be picky. Wait for the right iteration.
KISS — Keep it simple stupid. If you're struggling with all sorts of techniques and post-processing, it's often best to just choose the simpler route/colors/styling.
Don't be afraid — To make something you love, but nobody else seems to love. Pouring your passion into something is more important than robotically churning out something the masses will love.
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