10 Tips For Aspiring Artists...
The tips listed below are not the "best" things you can do or even "proper" things you can do as an artist. But they are things that are likely not mentioned by other artists that give advice. So here are 10 Tips For Aspiring Artists that may help you at some point down the road...
10. Social Networking will NOT get you a job.
Social networking is a great thing, but at the end of the day, no message boards or Facebook updates are going to get you hired. Sure, you may get noticed on those sites, but that's rare. SUPER RARE. And posting pin-ups on these sites, while it may be fun to get critiques from other artists, is usually a complete waste of time and effort. Don't get me wrong, there is quite a bit to be learned from critiques, and you can make some really great friends on these sites, but at the end of the day your time should be invested in DRAWING, not bullshitting on the internet. So try to keep your time visiting those sites to a minimum. The less time you spend on those sites, the more time you will have to hone your craft.
9. That guy who knows a guy who knows a guy that knows a guy will NOT get you a job.
Don't fall for false promises. I can't count how many guys I have met who think they have "connections" or some such nonsense (and they usually think these things for really really REALLY dumb reasons) and will tell the entire world about them and will promise that you'll make it big blah blah blah blah blah. Bottom line, if they were so well connected people would be talking about being connected with them rather than the other way around. Your work is what is going to get you hired. Not some bullshit chance meeting.
8. Draw for free!
Yes free. What, you're too good to draw for free? Sorry, no, you aren't. If you're reading up on tips on how to be an artist (especially if they're tips from me), then you aren't at the level you honestly wish you were at. Don't be afraid to swallow some pride and work for free. I'm not saying do it all the time or even part of the time, but if you get offered a project by someone who's been in the game a bit longer, or if you really see potential in a story or someone ready to make it to that "next level" at least consider it. The notion that you should never work for free is absurd at best and put out there by idiots who aren't getting all that much work themselves (and they know it). I worked for free for YEARS for people, and am even working for free on one project for a friend right now simply because of how much faith I have in the project and the writer. This doesn't mean you should always work for free or for ever. But it does mean that the project you work for free on may be the next Walking Dead for all you know. Consider each project offered and what perks you'll get out of it, regardless of pay. If the perks are big enough, you may not be concerned with pay. The point is, EVERYONE has to pay their dues, and everyone starts out working for free just so they have something to show. But also keep in mind when to know you're being taken advantage of too.
7. Fuck seven. I don't feel like writing seven.
6. Tools. Use what you're comfortable with.
A lot of guys will tell you to use this that or the other thing for creating art. Sometimes this advice is good. Sometimes not so much. Don't be afraid to experiment with new mediums, and don't be afraid to use tools others may not care for. If your work achieves the look that you're shooting for and your client is happy, that's all that matters in the end.
5. Go to school. Seriously. Your bullshit "style" is not covering up your mistakes in anatomy, it is not covering up your mistakes in perspective, it sure as hell isn't in composition. Learn the rules of drawing. As romantically chaotic as art may be, there are certainly rules to drawing and you must learn them before you attempt to bend them. If you don't your work will show it. You can draw swirls, and cool anime eyes, and no how to operate a pirated version of Photoshop like it's nobody's business, but at the end of the day if you haven't taken the time to actually go to an instructor and learn the very basics, it WILL show in your work and it WILL make it harder for you to get hired.
4. Accept the fact that you are not as great as your online profile says.
We are sales associates with enormous egos. We have to be. You have to be willing to sell yourself to get work. You have to have at least some what of an ego to work in any form of entertainment, but even more so in art because you are putting a part of yourself out their for the public to judge. Never forget though that there is ALWAYS room to learn more, and never forget that there is ALWAYS something to be learned from those who view your work. Grow some thick skin, stop crying like a bitch if someone doesn't care for your work, and buckle down and be willing to LEARN, regardless of how long you have been in the business.
3. Stop worrying about what other people do.
I can't count how many times I see people bitch and moan and act like idiots about others work. "Oh this guy swiped that. This guy used a photo reference. Oh this guy's hatching looks like Liefeld's, blah blah blah blah blah blah" Shut. The. Fuck. Up. The guy that goes on like that does not sound intelligent or even like they know what they're talking about. They just sound like a dick. Rather than worrying about what other people are doing, concentrate on what YOU are doing. If you're spending your time worrying about other people and if what they are doing in art is acceptable to you or not then you have not only missed the entire point to creating art, but you're also not concentrating on getting better. Instead you're just being an obnoxious asshole that is far less impressive in real life than online. Worry about your own work, how others feel toward it, if it's conveying the message you hope it will, if it's doing what you've intended for it to do. Let other people worry about their own art. You're trying to create a career here, not manage someone else's.
2. Fuck number two also. Top ten lists are no where near as fun to write as they are to read.
1. HAVE FUN! If you aren't having fun as an artist you're doing something wrong. Stop what you're doing and figure out how to enjoy your work again. Set a project to the side to come back to later and start on something new. Experiment with a new medium. Go visit an art museum for inspiration (yes, it does help). You only get to experience and enjoy this life one time. Hell, even if you believe in re-incarnation you STILL only get to experience THIS life one time. So enjoy yourself. Have fun with your work. Have fun with your career. Don't take any of it too serious. Remember most of the guys out there you think are "big" or whatever, are really just normal guys too. They've just remembered to enjoy themselves is all. If you enjoy yourself while doing art, you'll be more inclined to do art and as such, your work will look better.
Craig DeBoard is an undergraduate at the Academy of Art University currently studying for his BFA with a major in Art Education. For more, check out www.craigdeboard.com
Listening to: Face to Face
Reading: Essential Spider-Man Vol. 1