PDA

View Full Version : Seeking Some Career Advice.....


SJeremyHicks
06-25-2016, 05:39 PM
I am looking for some career help, and I thought I would check in here.
First, a short background on me:

I am 39 years old, I have a wife and two sons, and I work full time at a building supply company Ė been working there 18 years.
Itís never what I wanted to do, but somehow got sucked in, and stuck.
In 2007, I made up my mind that I wanted to pursue my dream of becoming a comic artist or illustrator. I began going to school part time, juggling family and work, and eventually earned my Bachelor in Media Arts and Animation in 2013.
Three years later, Iíve continued working for the construction supply company. Miserable and hating every moment of it. I continue though, because I have yet to find a way to earn enough money off of my art to support a family and pay the bills. I dread work every day, but I go.

Now, ultimately, my dream job would be to work from home as an illustrator. Freelance, contract, full time, multiple part time positions, anything. Iím certainly not looking to ďget richĒ, I just want to make enough of a living to pay the bills, which is all Iím looking for.
I WANT to work for it, and I am no stranger to sacrifice. Iím not a slacker, Iím not lazy. I work hard, dedicated, and driven. I am educated and talented.
But where do I start? What steps should I take?
I have a family to consider, and I can just walk out of my job (as much as I'd love to).
How can I earn enough to pay the pills, provide for my family, and do what I love?
I really want to succeed, but how?
Thank you all so much, and any advice would be most appreciated.

- Jeremy
http://sjeremyhicks.com/

Steven Forbes
06-25-2016, 05:47 PM
Hi, Jeremy.

Interesting body of work. However, in order to stand out as a comic artist, you have to start doing sequentials. It doesn't have to be anything elaborate or extravagant, but if you want to be a comic artist, you have to show that you can tell a story with pictures.

You can always look through the Writer Showcase for scripts if you want to stay "local" to DW. I'm quite sure there are writers who would love to pair with a new artist for something.

Hope that helps.

-Steven

Lee Nordling
06-25-2016, 11:09 PM
Let me add to what Steven wrote, Jeremy.

First, most of us feel the pain of you juggling so many considerations.

Doing that all at once is overwhelming, so don't, because it's not an all-or-nothing proposition, not that you suggested it was; you're just looking for a starting place.

Steven made the suggestion of a great first step, because comics are sequential art, not a series of illustrations.

I'm going to take a leap and guess you've been doing that, even if you don't show it on your website.

So here's a suggestion for a next step, one we've all taken, and one that has more options today than in the last century.

But first a preface: nobody starts out making the money they need to, so you need to be practical about how much time you can spend on this stuff around your other stuff, but that fits into my suggestion.

My suggestion: create your own comics, with a writer or without one, if in the latter case you're a really good writer, but if not, find a writer with whom to collaborate.

The comic doesn't need to be for anything other than experience, but it's good to have goals, so maybe it's to publish online (periodically, but consistently), or for an anthology somebody is producing. (Steven will eventually mention there's a chapter in my book about this, and he's right, but you're getting the gist of it here.)

Think of your comics career as a ladder, and you're looking for the next available rung on it. "Available" is the key word here; be practical.

LITERALLY, that's your next step; there aren't any obvious ones higher, but it reaches to potentially higher ones.

Here's the good news: when you work on your comics each day, even for a short time, you can always say, "I got this done today, and nobody can take it from me."

Good fortune!

--Lee

JamesVenhaus
06-26-2016, 12:34 AM
Here's the good news: when you work on your comics each day, even for a short time, you can always say, "I got this done today, and nobody can take it from me."
--Lee

Well said. This is good advice for anyone, no matter what rung on the ladder they are on.

SJeremyHicks
06-26-2016, 03:25 PM
Interesting body of work. However, in order to stand out as a comic artist, you have to start doing sequentials. It doesn't have to be anything elaborate or extravagant, but if you want to be a comic artist, you have to show that you can tell a story with pictures. -Steven

I actually do have sequentials, but I havent got them up on my site. You are 100% right though though - you have to be a solid storyteller to work in comics. That is where I need to be focusing my efforts.
Thank you so much for your feedback, and yes, it does help.

SJeremyHicks
06-26-2016, 03:30 PM
Let me add to what Steven wrote, Jeremy.

First, most of us feel the pain of you juggling so many considerations.

Doing that all at once is overwhelming, so don't, because it's not an all-or-nothing proposition, not that you suggested it was; you're just looking for a starting place.

Steven made the suggestion of a great first step, because comics are sequential art, not a series of illustrations.

I'm going to take a leap and guess you've been doing that, even if you don't show it on your website.

So here's a suggestion for a next step, one we've all taken, and one that has more options today than in the last century.

But first a preface: nobody starts out making the money they need to, so you need to be practical about how much time you can spend on this stuff around your other stuff, but that fits into my suggestion.

My suggestion: create your own comics, with a writer or without one, if in the latter case you're a really good writer, but if not, find a writer with whom to collaborate.

The comic doesn't need to be for anything other than experience, but it's good to have goals, so maybe it's to publish online (periodically, but consistently), or for an anthology somebody is producing. (Steven will eventually mention there's a chapter in my book about this, and he's right, but you're getting the gist of it here.)

Think of your comics career as a ladder, and you're looking for the next available rung on it. "Available" is the key word here; be practical.

LITERALLY, that's your next step; there aren't any obvious ones higher, but it reaches to potentially higher ones.

Here's the good news: when you work on your comics each day, even for a short time, you can always say, "I got this done today, and nobody can take it from me."

Good fortune!

--Lee
Thank you so much for the excellent advice!
Its funny, but I have actually completed writing the first issue to my own original story, and have begun my layouts.
I have been seeing all over the place from various seasoned creators that self publishing in today's market is the way to go. Do you agree?
Also, can a good self published comic lead to higher profile gigs, with established publishers? Almost exist as a clling card or resume, in itself?

Thank you again!

Steven Forbes
06-26-2016, 05:39 PM
I actually do have sequentials, but I havent got them up on my site. You are 100% right though though - you have to be a solid storyteller to work in comics. That is where I need to be focusing my efforts.
Thank you so much for your feedback, and yes, it does help.

Thank you so much for the excellent advice!
Its funny, but I have actually completed writing the first issue to my own original story, and have begun my layouts.
I have been seeing all over the place from various seasoned creators that self publishing in today's market is the way to go. Do you agree?
Also, can a good self published comic lead to higher profile gigs, with established publishers? Almost exist as a clling card or resume, in itself?

Thank you again!

You're welcome.

Here's the thing: "good" is extremely subjective. What's good to someone else is crap to another, and while writing and editing your own work is good, what's better is having someone who knows what they're doing edit your work...especially if comic book writing is something you've just begun. (Comic writing is pretty challenging with lots of things that can go wrong. Writing a script for you to draw is one thing, but that doesn't mean your story is going to come across the way you want it. Not when you're a new writer. Not trying to be down on you, just telling you about the realities of creating.)

Here's another reality of creating: you aren't going to make any money on your first comic. Or your second. Or your third. When you're new, "good" doesn't mean anything. Being able to show that you're in it for the long haul and that you're able to produce on a deadline does, because that's what will keep you in the public eye.

Owning your own content can be extremely lucrative. The more you own (risk), the bigger your reward (money, recognition) for your hard work. The more you give up (the less you risk), the less rewarded (money) you are (those rewards go to those who have risked).

The best thing you can do for yourself is to become a businessman and learn. Study what can happen if you are able to get into Diamond with your book, and somehow manage to crack the Top 300 in sales. Do the math, taking everything into account: creation costs, printing, distributing. Find out what your break even point is (where sales equal all of your expenses), and what you can do to raise awareness of your book when it's finally made.

As for publishers, every publisher wants to know if a creator can tell a story (and every part of creation is storytelling, from the writing to the colors to what the lettering looks like), and if they can do it well. Then they want to know the rate of creation, and then they want to know if you have an audience. Somewhere in there, if they're looking for material to publish, they'll want to know if you have a unique story/take on a story.

As a new creator, you have an uphill battle.

The good news is that once you've created something, no one can take that away from you, ever. Once you've got credits under your belt, once you've got your books where you want them, then you've accomplished something. Just make sure you make plans for whatever goals you set.

A little rambling, yes, but here's the main gist: it's a challenging road, but don't give up!

Go order Lee Nordling's book, which will teach you about creating comics and the business of comics. https://www.amazon.com/Comics-Creato...TF8&qid=&sr=Co

Do not wait. Do it now. You'll be glad you did.

-Steven

Ingrid K. V. Hardy
07-04-2016, 07:43 AM
The best thing you can do for yourself is to become a businessman and learn.

first a preface: nobody starts out making the money they need to, so you need to be practical about how much time you can spend on this stuff around your other stuff

Think of your comics career as a ladder, and you're looking for the next available rung on it. "Available" is the key word here; be practical.

The above quotes are, to me, gold and can be applied to nearly any career, in my humble opinion.

Marta
07-08-2016, 01:46 PM
Comics are notoriously difficult to break into and make a living from, and it's a niche market.

To transition into illustration that would support you and your family, I'd suggest you look into gigs in illustration rather than being set on one specific specialty. What can you do that's more commercial and thus pays the bills better? Look into doing commissions (and arrange for permission up front to show them as part of your portfolio on your website). Have a way for people to buy them easily. Get experience doing some design work if you can. There should be ways to pick up skills, though it might also require more formal training. It might not be what you really love, but it will likely be much more satisfying than the job that's making you miserable.

Network: let people know what you do and ask for leads or testimonials from them--instructors, friends, people in your community. As you build a base of paying clients and get better known, it should allow you to transition to working from home. But it won't happen overnight, and you'll need to save money for dry spells before you can safely do this full time.

I know quite a few artists and graphic designers who earn a good part of their income from working in various types of advertising, which pays much better than comics. Some of them do a combination of working for individuals and local small businesses to much bigger companies. They work on book covers, brochures, and websites.

Good luck!

Scribbly
07-09-2016, 03:31 PM
My advice is to keep your current job as it is.
It helps to keep your family needs covered. Which is very good.
Maybe you would end appreciating your job for all these thing you are already having from it and you are taking for granted.
Estability, regular salary, tax deductions, benefits, paid vacations, health coverage ( Union?) and many other perks that working as artist for comics you would never have.

On the side, on each free-spare time you can keep yourself working on improving the quality of your artwork. Until you can reach the level of those who are hired by these big publishing houses who pay well to artists. Having this achieved, start by working on improving your delivery velocity for match with deadline's exigencies.
If you can provide artwork that is same as good or better than the artists who are already working in the publishers rooster, you may have a chance very soon.
Which is not big deal. Sooner or later, everybody can have his opportunity. And the winners are those who can provide the best artwork.
Who determines what is the best artwork? The publisher, or the Editor by comparing the artwork they already have on hand at the time with the stuff we are offering as artwork to them. ( This is not rocket science, only common sense.)
What is big deal is to keep working as artist along the years with regular continuity. Only an handfull of real talented and disciplined comics artists can do this succesfully. IMHO.
That is why we (the readers) follow these artists by buying the comics they make, because we like it, allowing them to keep going ahead with their careers.
What everyone who really love comics has in the reach of his hand is the chance of drawing for the sake of it and for the pleasure of doing it. That is for free and regardless the time we may expend doing it, takes a small investment on materials.

paul brian deberry
07-09-2016, 08:14 PM
How? How do you succeed? You no how.... you're just to afraid to do it.

I will break it down.

Step one. Have the talk with the family.
Step two. Say adios to your job.
Step three. Dedicate every -- I MEAN EVERY waking moment towards that goal of being a comicbook creator.


The harsh truth is if you cannot do any of these steps then it's a lifelong hobby. Period.

If you're any good then within the first year you will see a small gain.

You should be on Patreon, Etsy and build your social media following.

Lee Nordling
07-09-2016, 11:41 PM
We're each entitled to our opinions, but I'm going to offer a differing opinion (redundant, though it is) to Paul's.

Step One: agree.

Step Two: reckless, foolish, and unnecessary.

Step Three: mostly agree, though a lot of other experiences can be channeled into our work as creators.

Besides the fact that I would offer numerous other steps that are included in Step Three, and aren't as intuitive as many of might suppose, this isn't an all-or-nothing game, and certainly a year isn't nearly enough time to gauge prospective success, or I would've given up at the age of 23 or 24. What it takes to gauge prospective potential is a much larger conversation with too many moving parts to it.

So I want to simply rebut Step Two.

There is no established professional that I know who would agree with this. That doesn't mean that this kind of dedication couldn't accelerate the process of getting somewhere, but learning and establishing ourselves in comics is, more often than not, a marathon instead of a sprint.

Most of the dedication of working pros who have other sources of income is getting up early before the day job and staying up late after it to do the work.

Doing the work on a consistent, predictable, and dedicated basis is more important than being Cary Grant in "An Affair To Remember" to develop as an artist or lose the one you love.

That's my two-cents counter-point, just to offer an image of the other side of the coin.

Stewart Vernon
07-10-2016, 01:08 AM
If you don't have a job (currently that's the position I'm in) then absolutely, by all means put everything you can into it... BUT I wouldn't quit my day job in the hopes of being noticed/discovered in comic books. You should be able to make time for it, and if you have a family you do discuss it with them and how to carve out dedicated time to hone your craft AND promote yourself... but you don't quit a known bread-making job unless you have a LOT of savings that you can live on.

As for the year... IF you have talent and you don't get noticed in a year, that doesn't make you a failure. It's the old "if a tree falls and no one is there does it make a sound" question. Some of the BEST writers and artists have gone unnoticed for a LONG time, then ignored or rejected, then forgotten... before finally making their coin.

Very few people break into the business overnight. It just isn't likely to happen, no matter how good you are, so you shouldn't expect it NOR should you feel like you are failing.

Do people not like your work because it isn't any good? Or because they aren't seeing it? Also, some people tend to be followers rather than leaders... and that includes hiring companies. They might not hire you based on your work, but if they see you have a following (blog, Facebook, etc.) that makes you more marketable for them as you are presumed to bring fans with you.

I haven't figured it all out yet either... but I take solace knowing that even the success stories don't have a magic formula beyond just working at your craft and letting people know you are out there.

Scribbly
07-10-2016, 02:38 AM
How? How do you succeed? You no how.... you're just to afraid to do it.

I will break it down.

Step one. Have the talk with the family.
Step two. Say adios to your job.
Step three. Dedicate every -- I MEAN EVERY waking moment towards that goal of being a comicbook creator.


The harsh truth is if you cannot do any of these steps then it's a lifelong hobby. Period.

If you're any good then within the first year you will see a small gain.

You should be on Patreon, Etsy and build your social media following.
From a different P.O.V.:
Step one. Family might know already. But always good to talk with them about anything, projects and goals.
Step two. This could mean: not bring food to the table until rich and famous. If family can wait not eating during the process, it can work. Actually it would work fine for anyone who has no family on charge.
Step three. TOTALY AGREE. Even the time spent at work or at school, if not working yet, can be used towards the final goal.
Drawing at least one panel per day is 365 panels at year.
Writing at least one page per day is 365 pages at year. ( Elmore Leonard's goal before becoming famous by his writing.)
Actually, he wrote many famous novels this way before quitting his daily job.

The harsh truth is if anyone (writer or reader ) cannot "develop a basic professional level of delivery on paper" BEFORE going on any of these steps, then surely it's a lifelong hobby. IMHO.

Renae De Liz
07-11-2016, 06:45 AM
You're in a rough position, and I extremely respect that you are being responsible with your family.

The big question is if you want to only work as an illustrator (taking jobs drawing only) or if you are willing to do other types of comic work to pay the bills.

Drawing (or one type of job) only: It is highly unlikely you can quit your job and start making enough money right away to support a family unless you have some previous sequential work to show, and have worked up to a page rate in which you could support your family. But working another job should not be the wall between you and following your dream. To start I was a single mom working full time, and if you are dedicated to improving your craft and getting work, you will make that time. Drawing on lunch break, drawing while eating dinner, drawing after the kids are in bed. Before you know it you've worked up a good body of work and can start making money, but even then beginner rates are not good enough to support a family. It's more likely you would need to moonlight as an artist until your rates are set at a good price, but it takes time. But if this is a dream you truly want, you'll do anything to get there.

The only way I could see a concrete way to get enough funds to safely take care of your family and start working full time as an artist, is to go for a Kickstarter, or similar crowfunding sources, which is something you can build while working your current job.

Do Any Job: This is the quicker path to working full time in comics, but it won't necessarily mean drawing. If you can become a "jack of all trades" and do multiple tasks, you are capable of finding a lot more work, much faster than drawing alone.

Flatting and Lettering, for instance, are the easiest things to learn, and are always needed. Smaller page rates than drawing, but WAY less time needed per page once you get past the learning curve. If you can ink and color for others, that's also great, but often takes time to perfect that craft to get good rates.

The downside to this is, you'll likely spend so much time doing "other stuff" to make ends meet that you'll end up with very little time to do what you love. But then, at least you'd be working in comics instead of a job you really hate.

Either path, I would suggest moonlighting and saving all money made from comics until you have enough to support your family for at least three months (six is best), then take that risk and go for comics full time.

Also either way, you need to look EVERYWHERE for work. Craigslist, job sites, everywhere. People post in the craziest places to hire people, and you need to be bold and go for this work. Being a jack of all trades broadens the amount of work you can take.

While you're still working your current job, set up social sites now, get to know your peers in comics now (through places like DW, but especially Twitter and Facebook). Go to conventions if you can, set up at them if you can. It's all about getting yourself and your work out there and building yourself as many paths to work as you can. If creating your own stories is what you want, create a webcomic, something you should have time for even with a full time job. Consistent posting builds you an audience and gives you something to print and sell pretty quickly.

Anyway, ramble over :D I really hope you get to follow your dream sooner than later. No matter what, don't lose hope. If you work for it hard enough, it'll happen.

Bulletboy-Redux
07-11-2016, 02:19 PM
My experience tells me this: Success in this business is 10% talent and 90% hustle. You need the talent to do the job when you get noticed, but in order to get noticed you have to hustle. It's hard for those of us who arent hustlers by nature. Some folks are just blessed with the hustle gene, and they usually go far. The rest of us have to learn that skill, which can be a loooong process. I sure as hell am still learning. I have the opposite of the hustle gene. I just want to be left alone. Great attitude if you want to be a mass shooter, but not if you want to succeed.

Michael Ford
07-12-2016, 05:59 PM
There is a lot of good advice on this thread. However, there is one piece of advice everyone seems to be missing. You need to find a job that makes you happy.

I'm not talking about a job in the comic business. Not yet, at least. I'm talking about anywhere where you can work, be happy, and provide for your family. If your job makes you miserable then that will weigh you down in all aspects of your life, including your dreams to pursue comics.

The honest truth is that even if you get incredibly lucky, make great connections, and you catch a lot of eyes, it will still take time for you to get to a stable, professional career in the comic industry. You need another job in the meanwhile.

I really respect you for going after your dream. A lot of people give it up and settle for what they have. Keep at it, but remember that it takes time. You need to take care of yourself in the meanwhile. That means your happiness is a priority. Even if it mean you make less, find a job you like working at.

ferah11
07-13-2016, 10:02 PM
This song made my decision easier.

MzVlZ5VNtQg

Hanzou
07-15-2016, 07:05 PM
You gotta build a fanbase outside of your friends and family. A lot of people will say that they'll buy your stuff, but when he rubber hits the road, you'll be surprised how many people won't cough up the money to support what you do. Thus, you gotta cast as wide a net as possible to get as many people looking at your stuff and willing to buy your stuff.

Also you need to widen your lens a bit. Hoping to draw for Marvel and DC is a glorious dream, but there's plenty of artists out there making a living doing comic-related work. Look into doing sketch cards, pin-ups, and commissions to bring in some cash. Look into drawing artwork for the multitude of table top and video game companies out there. Their per-page rates tend to be superior to comics. You could also do your own comics and distribute them online along with related merchandise.

Last but not least, being able to draw attractive women is an excellent way to pad your wallet while you wait for a call back from the big two.

But yeah, I wouldn't quit the day job until you have some stable revenue streams set up.

ferah11
07-16-2016, 11:30 PM
Tru dat ^^

https://scontent-tpe1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/1383253_10152513474198409_4676667417271865290_n.jp g?oh=92b8d3ba38d4bfbbdbc4f103ece72488&oe=57EB2990