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Hey. I actually just found your blog and I'm floored. Your art is cute, expressive, and perfect in comic format. So my big question is, as an aspiring artist (whether it be comics, writing them, storyboards, or design) do you have any advice? I'm nervous about picking a good school to go to because I KNOW I need formal training and I have a friend who wants me to storyboard, but I don't know how. Any advice? *sweats nervously in anticipation of response* Thanks!
Thank you! <3 :D
I’m gonna take this opportunity to type out my general advice for young artists:
1. Find mentorship and feedback, and accept it gracefully. Show your portfolio to your art teachers, bring your work to conventions, post your work online. Tell people what you think you want to do with your art, and ask for feedback. Back in the day, I used to email webcomic artists I liked, and occasionally they would write back with advice on my work/career. I emailed a local artist I admired to ask if I could buy her coffee and ask her about her career, and she accepted. Don’t expect anything, and don’t think that working artists owe you an answer, but it never hurts to ask! If someone takes the time to help you, THANK THEM and consider what they’ve said…even if they give you harsh feedback (and that’s normal and a part of the process). Repeat.
2. Art school is rad, and if money had been no obstacle I would DEFINITELY have chosen to go. But….art school is expensive, and I’ve seen people spend their 20s and 30s working day jobs to pay back art school loans instead of drawing. Just…don’t assume that art school is necessary, or the only way to an art career. (Again, art school is awesome and I sometimes wish I had attended one, but it is TOTALLY POSSIBLE to make a career in art without that diploma or that debt. I went to a state school, studied business and Japanese, drew in my free time, and received my first graphic novel contract before graduating. It’s more important to…)3. Draw every day! Develop professional habits and you’ll be a pro in no time. Learn to draw when you’re tired, when you’re stressed, when you’re uninspired, when you’re burnt out. As a pro, you’ll need to draw in all of these situations. I used to keep a sketchbook on my nightstand. At the end of the day, if I hadn’t drawn anything, I’d just sketch a little bit before turning the light out. If you feel ready for more of a challenge, I HIGHLY recommend starting a webcomic to practice working on long-form stories with a consistent deadline to meet (try one page/week).
4. Do what turns YOU on. Don’t worry about chasing other people’s styles or career paths; follow your own heart and draw what really makes you happy, in a style that’s your own. (Not that you should skip those art assignments or exercises…) Not only will you be happier in the long run—you’re more likely to develop a unique style/voice that makes you invaluable rather than replaceable. Specific jobs come and go (and sometimes are phased out entirely…gulp), but creativity will ALWAYS be valued. A lot of artists find career paths that are entirely new, or combine aspects of various jobs to make a life that works for us. You don’t have to fit a specific mold to be an artist. It’s both amazing and terrifying that there isn’t much of a road-map at all.
5. Be professional. Don’t burn bridges with people, follow through on what you promise, and be pleasant to work with.
6. Socialize. Meet other artists online, and go to events if possible (conventions, movie screenings, lectures, book releases, signings…). Bring business cards if you have them. It’s okay to start small—I still get sweaty palms in a room of new people, and sometimes I say “I will talk to one new person and then I will GO HOME AND READ”—but learning how to introduce yourself and confidently tell people what you do is a skill that will aid you your whole life. Some of these people could turn into great friends, and some could send work your way in the future (and vice versa!). Build your network by meeting people and staying in touch. It gets easier and easier and your professional network will grow and grow the longer you work at it.
7. Don’t stop! :D And send me links to your work.
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