In this blog I plan on being much more open and honest about my career ups and downs. These are just observations because even though I've accomplished a lot, I still have to work pretty hard to keep it all going. To many in the industry, some illustrators look like they have it pretty easy. What appears on the outside is only a glimpse of how hard illustrators work. Does luck play a part? Absolutely! However, working your creative ass off takes care of the rest. In a nutshell, I work my ass off and I probably work harder than some. But then again, its all relative right?
Some illustrators get recognized early in the game, get agents and make a pretty good living at what they do. They are admirable and inspirational. They may appear to have had their careers handed to them but they worked hard to get where they are. It all comes down to luck, circumstances, talent, location, personality, hard work, sacrifice, business skills and community.
My career did not happen overnight. I do what I do on my own. I do all the writing on my blogs and I find my own work. I also run after two kids and do all the housework too. For one girl, I wear many hats 24/7.
For me, I have a case of small town-itus. Defined this means, I live in a town that is challenging when it comes to creativity, illustration and a like-minded community. I define it this way in a joking manner of course.
But not all is lost. This just means I have to be more creative and resourceful. It's not an easy path doing most of it on my own but the reward can be huge. Since I never give up easy, I'll just continue to learn daily and work smarter. My personality does play a huge role here too- I am a perpetual learner with no positivity off switch. In other wards, I can make anything work if I try hard enough. This is probably why many describe me as being approachable and down to earth when it comes to illustration and advice.
One thing is for sure, illustrators DO need people. The more support you have for what you do and create does make a huge difference in your career. So for those of you who have small town-itus like myself, what can you do?
Some ideas to consider:
• Create a strong online network.
• Participate in Illustration groups online like Illustration Friday, The Little Chimp Society or Sugar Frosted Goodness.
• Start your own illustration group.
• Reach out-test the creative waters in your area.
• Offer classes, informational seminars or talks about what you do.
• Chat with local schools and students who plan on going to art school.
• Offer advice or mentor.
• Get spotlighted.
• Advertise a meet-up for those looking to connect with other creatives.
• Lastly, this is a code that I live by: If you cannot dazzle them-wear them down. This means keep trying to get yourself out there in your community. It may take time, but if you professionally keep offering and advertising yourself, you will eventually meet the right people.