Illustration by Oleksandr Shatokin
BTCA (Before the Computer Age) getting noticed as an artist was difficult at best. Especially if you were an illustrator working on the West Coast. There just weren’t enough venues handing out freelance work. There were only a handful of reps and they only repped known artists. You could do comp work for movie studios and agencies. But getting a finished illustration in a magazine, newspaper or on a movie poster was rare for a young artist. A few broke thru but the majority worked anonymously handing off their brilliant ideas to older more seasoned illustrators to finish of the work. Some who I knew from art school quit and joined (as my father would say) “the real world”.
My experience as a young illustrator was painful and it finally lead me to taking night courses in art production work and marker comps so as to become an art director. While I honed those skills I worked in construction for my parent’s family business. My thinking was most art directors can’t draw and express there ideas as well as I could so maybe my skill level would set me apart from the norm. I was right and my career as an art director was solid starting out as an art director for 20th Century Fox feature films.
As my career in the entertainment business flourished I still held the thought that one day I’d be an illustrator so I keep creating artwork with the goal of one day leaving my directing positions and stepping into the artist arena.
In 2006 I left my position at Warner Bros and started illustrating kid lit books. I haven’t looked back.
The freelance world had changed drastically and the challenges of being an illustrator in the digital age was challenging and exciting. However, I could see how a young artist might find the whole process overwhelming. Aside from having to master social media, an artist today competes worldwide with artists who are very skilled and will work for less than their American counterparts. What to do?
Connect. Connect. Connect. Call, eMail, DM, Text send videos do anything and everything to promote your work. Do not be shy, because it’s true that no one cares about what you’re doing unless they see it and see it a lot.
There are inexpensive ways to reach art directors. publishers and creative directors in every field of art. Think Bomb Bomb, MailChimp etc Post your work everywhere (add copyrights!) and…be yourself. Do what you like to do not what you think will get you work. This almost never works and can be frustrating if it does. I’ve experienced both and I can say this. I’d rather work in another field and keep my artistic integrity. The only way you will truly discover your “real artistic voice” is to do what please you. Finally and most importantly never, never, never, quit. Your success as an artist may be right round the corner.