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March 12, 2012
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Someone recently asked me for some advice about going to art college and becoming an illustrator. Here's what I said. Maybe someone here will find this interesting too...

1) It's a tough life as an artist. You need more than just good drawing abilities to get by. I know a lot of people who are WAY better than me but can't make it as artists. You need to be personable and likable. Work on your people skills and be sincere. People can tell when it's fake.

2) Learn a broad range of skills. Don't just focus on illustration, but also learn the fundamentals of design, sculpture, painting, storyboarding, etc... those skill will help you more than you can possibly imagine.

3) Be yourself. Find your own style and really refine it.

4) Don't waste your education. Don't go out and party and drink when you should be studying and doing homework. They give you that homework for a reason!

5) Always try to be the best. Challenge yourself to make your assignments the best in your class. Always try to be #1. You will fail a lot, but the chase makes you better!

6) Take a business class. If your school doesn't offer one, then take one at an associated college or some local community college. You need the basics of running a business to make it as a freelancer.

7) keep in touch with the people you meet in school. You never know who will someday be an art director somewhere and need someone of your skills. Network, network, network!
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:iconkseth:
kSeth Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2012
great advice! Man isn't it a long road?
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:iconmecha-zone:
Mecha-Zone Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2012  Professional General Artist
yeah, it will wear you down pretty quick!
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:iconzanslev:
Zanslev Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012
I was actually thinking about asking you something very similar! Thank you!
Reply
:iconfalloutboy9993:
falloutboy9993 Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you so much for responding to my email! The information is much appreciated!
Reply
:iconmecha-zone:
Mecha-Zone Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012  Professional General Artist
You bet! I only wish the internet existed when I was your age. I can't even imagine how I might have approached the possibility of college if I had all this information and connectivity at my fingertips.
Reply
:iconfalloutboy9993:
falloutboy9993 Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I am about to graduate and I am a little scared and not sure what to do. This advice is very reassuring. Thank you again.
Reply
:iconrob-cavanna:
Rob-Cavanna Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012
Agree w/ all of the above. :thumbsup: :nod:

To be successful commercially, you also have to know how to compromise and take critique. It's not your work. It's the client's work. They bought it. Let them do what they want, even if it seems a shitty idea. Express your opinion, but don't be intransigent. Often times, they don't like the changes themselves, but are bowing to a higher authority above them. Take your ego out of the equation and do what's asked. If your paying professional work isn't totally creatively fulfilling, go bear your inner soul someplace else, on your own dime.

Think of yourself as a mercenary. If the clients says; go kill this... Pick up your weapon and do it.
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:iconrantinan:
rantinan Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012
Brilliant statement. Applies to us programers too.
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:iconrob-cavanna:
Rob-Cavanna Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012
dunno about brilliant... but hang in there programmers! :salute:
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:iconrantinan:
rantinan Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2012
nah. After a very lengthy day of sublimating ego and fulfilling client requests... briliant.
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:iconmecha-zone:
Mecha-Zone Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012  Professional General Artist
yeah, it can be a bitter pill sometimes.
Reply
:iconrob-cavanna:
Rob-Cavanna Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012
Fortunately, it's a pill coated in sweetness of actual money. :P
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:iconcenturion13:
Centurion13 Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012
That seems to work well in the writing profession as well. Food for thought, Rob. And an excellent addendum to David's advice.
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:iconrob-cavanna:
Rob-Cavanna Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012
Glad you think so. Half expected to get my ass flamed for truth-ifying.
Reply
:iconjepray:
Jepray Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you for the word of wisdom:D
Reply
:iconamuscaria:
Amuscaria Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Good advice.

As a complimentary note, Art school probably doesn't even help most people become artists. From what I've seen they don't really teach you much of anything. As with anything in college, teaching is mostly done on your own (I ask why I should even pay tuition).

Art school is quite expensive. The art college here in Chicago is 30K a year, and I don't know of that many public art colleges (if any even exists). A 4 year degree in art is as costly as medical school, and the job market is rather nonsensical.

I'll argue that one can become a good artist without art school at all if you show enough dedication and study the right fundamentals. I feel any school of arts imprints too much of their own personal preferences onto those that are learning. I can't begin to count how my art professor all tell me drawing what I do won't get me anywhere. :P
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:iconcenturion13:
Centurion13 Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012
I'll agree on that last one wholeheartedly. Matt Groehning had similar experiences, but look where he is now. Art school is a guide, at best. An expensive one, from your account. Like you said, in the end they are there to make more artists like themselves - or so you would gather from the curriculum.
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:iconmecha-zone:
Mecha-Zone Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012  Professional General Artist
I disagree vehemently with this statement...

"they don't really teach you much of anything. As with anything in college, teaching is mostly done on your own (I ask why I should even pay tuition)"

If that was your experience, then you went to a bad school or had bad teachers. No doubt it is possible to become great without art college, but it is a necessity for many and a wonderful way to gain great amounts of knowledge at an accelerated rate.

I don't have an overflowing amount of natural ability. My skills come form studying, practice, and a relentless refusal to give up.
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:iconcenturion13:
Centurion13 Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012
And I gotta agree with that last one, too. The one thing all successful professionals share is persistence. It makes up for a heck of a lot. In fact, it's indispensable. Or at least Louis L'Amour thought so.
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:iconfiggs:
Figgs Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012
If I may ask, where did you attend? I'm looking at a few colleges (SCAD, SVA, Etc.), but I think I'd rather just move to LA and possibly attend PCC on the side. MY big fear though is this may cut me out of potential college networking experiences.
Reply
:iconmecha-zone:
Mecha-Zone Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012  Professional General Artist
I went to the Columbus College of Art and Design. I am originally from Indiana so it was the closest good college.
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:iconthecentipede:
TheCentipede Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
And that's why I'm an engineer! ;)
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:icondarcad:
Darcad Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2012
and mine too :D
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:iconthecentipede:
TheCentipede Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Well, you're going to have to talk it over with Keydan since I already gave it to him. ;)
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:icondarcad:
Darcad Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2012
;) Keydan is a friend!
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:iconkeydan:
Keydan Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012
YOU STOLE MY LINE!!!
Reply
:iconthecentipede:
TheCentipede Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Sorry, didn't realize it was yours. Just saw it sitting unattended in the break room where people usually put the free stuff--here, please take it back with my apologies. :(
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:iconkeydan:
Keydan Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012
Apology accepted!
Reply
:iconthecentipede:
TheCentipede Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
:D
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:icons7alker117:
S7alker117 Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
These are really great advices. Failing with some of these things is something that might actaully mess up the life of any wanna-be artist. personally, I might reckon in severel of these instances the reason for my personal failures. Still, one must keep working harder and not give up, right?

Thank you so much for sharing.
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