Today, I was asked in an Illustrator’s interview, “What words of advice do you have for artists/illustrators who are just beginning?” And that’s when it hit me! I thought I’d answer that in this blog post!
Heck, I’ve been an Illustrator and Comic artist for almost a whole year. No doubt, I’ve done several things before this. Like graphic designing, building websites and blogging. But my learning process with illustrating could have been a little faster if I had known these 10 things before hand.
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So if you’re an Illustrator already or you’re planning on becoming one, you’re going to find these 10 points of wisdom extremely useful.
1. Discovering your art style takes time.
Since I didn’t go to school for Illustrating or Art, I had to start from scratch. Taking a course can really be helpful. Because, it gets you further, faster. But since I started from the beginning, it took me a lot of time to find an art style that I was comfortable calling my own.
Joining Skillshare, really helped me become a better artist because I was able to take unlimited classes for free in the first two months. As my reader, you can get 60 Days of Skillshare free. I’ve even compiled a small but detailed list on Skillshare classes that you can take if you love drawing.
And this can take months/years to develop. The key is to keep drawing till you are happy with how your illustrations look. It took me 6 months to develop my style of characters.
2. Learn how to organize your finances.
Before you start off as an Illustrator, it’s always best you keep aside some money. Because, you’re not going to land jobs right away and it is imperative that you’re able to focus on illustrating without having to worry about paying your rent and other bills.
That being said, learning how to spend money is crucial if you’re planning on becoming a Freelance Illustrator. With time, you will learn how much you need to earn in a month in order pay your bills, buy food and art materials like stationery and notebooks.
Always remember to save money. Because, some months won’t be as good as the others. Especially when the financial year is ending. For these times, you’ll have to use what you’ve stored away.
3. Create, every single day.
If you’re not working on a project for a client, use the time to experiment with a new style, or create an illustration to add to your portfolio. Draw and illustrate every single day. Practising daily develops your art style and you become better and better.
Working on personal projects can be loads of fun. (This was how this blog was born) And that way, your work will never get boring. Always mix things up. Keep aside some time every day to work on something you want to.
You can also keep a journal that’s fun and creative but at the same time records all your life events!
4. Never work for free and never work without an initial deposit.
Working for free is NOT a good idea. If you have a client and he/she cannot afford to pay you but will give you great exposure, do not fall for it. It’s never worth the time and effort you put in. Work for free only and only if it’s for a good cause, for egs: a charitable event.
Whenever you work with a client, make sure you get at least a 50% deposit or the full amount if it’s a small illustration. Serious clients will never hesitate to pay you up front, remember that.
So, never work without the initial deposit and never transfer the final files to your client before the whole amount is cleared.
5. Social Media is your best friend.
What is the point of creating digital art, if no one can see it? Uploading your illustrations on social media like Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram is a wonderful way of getting your work in front of a lot of eyes. Uploading my comics onto Instagram was probably the best thing that happened to me. I was able to land loads of client work and build a strong and fun community!
You will also attract influencers and companies that may want to work with you. Not only will you remind people that you’re constantly creating, your reach will increase with every creation. Hence, it is important you create a Behance Profile and upload your projects onto it. This is the best way to attract companies who are looking for illustrators to work with.
6. You cannot be a successful illustrator if you don’t know how to market yourself.
Learn to market yourself. Learn to write well. Use your words to your full advantage because if you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will have reason to. It was very difficult for me to put myself out there because I’m shy and I never want to come across as ‘sale-sy.’
You’re not just an Illustrator when you decide to become an Illustrator. I wish I could say that your illustrating skills were enough. But sadly, it’s not.
You have to become a Salesperson.
You have to become a Business Person.
You have to become a Marketing Genius.
Because you have to promote your services, so you have to keep writing emails and pitching yourself to brands you want to work with. And you cannot let one “No.” ruin your day.
Which brings me to my next point.
7. You cannot take criticism personally.
When you post your work online, you’re going to have both; good and bad comments. You cannot let the bad ones bring you down. Some are going to criticize your work, some are going to make personal comments.
You have to learn how to handle unpleasant things in a fluid manner. If your work is criticized, see if there is some truth in the comment and adjust accordingly. Always reply to comments in a positive and bright manner. This will show how professional and polite you are.
It can be very hard to read negative comments that are attacking you and stay calm. Hell, there were times when my whole day was ruined if I read a nasty comment. But remember this very important point…
If you’re going to be on the internet, you have to be ready for both: the good and the bad.
You’re going to receive praises and insults. But it is upto you to hold your ground and constantly keep creating. People post negative comments for several reasons. They could be angry about something or are just having a rough day. They may not know how to word their feelings or they might be genuinely trying to bring you down. You never know…
Either way, you have to stay positive and develop a skin as thick as a bull’s.
8. Keep a good balance of work and fun.
It’s very easy to lose yourself in your work. I’m of course talking from experience. You can work for 14 hours on a piece and totally forget that you’ve skipped both lunch and dinner.
Therefore, it’s very crucial to keep a record of the time you put in your work. Have a dedicated time to check and reply to your emails, for research, and for work.
Make time for your family and friends. And work in at least 30 minutes to an hour of exercise. It’s very easy to gain weight as an Illustrator because our jobs have us on our bottoms from morning to evening.
9. Keep mini-goals and long-term goals.
Unless you’re actually moving toward something, you’re not really getting anywhere. Mini-goals are more like weekly or monthly goals. For egs: I must get 5 clients this month.
Long-term goals are goals that you can have on a yearly basis. For egs: I must do one Children’s Book by the end of 2 years.
10. Be patient.
It’s very easy to get lost in the comparison train.
- Will I ever be as successful as her?
- Will I ever have as many illustration jobs as he does?
- Will I ever become a successful illustrator?
These are questions that will undeniably fill your mind at some point of time. But, the key is to focus on your journey. So, instead of comparing your work with other people’s, compare your work with your own from last year or a few months prior.
Seeing your progress will motivate you to work harder and better.
And that’s all for today’s post. If you have any questions you’d like to be answered, feel free to leave a comment below. Because, I make it a point to reply to each and every single comment. And if your question requires a long answer, I will turn it into a blog post!