View Full Version : Competitve industry??

03-29-2006, 01:46 PM
Hey everyone,

I'm new to the forums, and i find this site extremely useful. I've been looking for something like this for the LONGEST time.

I am in need of a few pointers for career choices. I am graduating university soon, but i find that my niche isn't in what i'm studying here at school. It's more so in arts and graphics. I do cartoons for my schools editorial page, but that's about all the exposure i've had in the recent past.

I was wondering if anyone had any words of wisdom? Is illustration college worth going to or is the industry way too competitive? I heard that the industry for freelance illustration is very competitve, vs. the computer animation field, where "if your GOOD work will come find you." Thus i am torn :blink: . I have SOME experience in pencil-ink-photoshop illustration though i've only learned recently how to do this (that's what college is for i guess?).. would it help if i post a sample of something i've completed recently?

I'd love to make illustration a living for myself, but is it even possible or perhaps very risky?

What are some of the stories some of you more successful folks are willing to share in becoming a comic/concept artist?
Thanks a bunch. Look forward to reading the replies!

JW :laugh:

04-07-2006, 11:12 PM
Well, I make a living at illustration and support a family. If can do it, so can you, its a matter of being avaialble on the net. Networking is a no brainer, and you have to produce your best work all the time. Even if you feel you could have done better on a project, then go over it and find what you could have enhanced to make it outstanding and redo it.
Waste no time being late on any project, even if you are, KEEP IN TOUCH with your client. Don't just email, CALL. Keeping in touch is so important, don't fall off the face of the earth, its a small industry and word gets around fast.
And every field is no more competitive than another, why? Because those that say it is, don't have a talent in demand, they appear as everyone else in technique, style or ability. Find your niche, in your niche. And expand out from there. I can't remember who said it (comic quote) but they said "you have to be equal to or better than our best artist/inker/colorist/designer not better than our worst."
An example would be, if your skill is equal to thier best and still can't get work, then focus on what can make you above and beyond their best. Maybe Layout, composition,creativity, originality. Don't make the mistake of copying what is already popular, you have to think ahead to WHATS GOING TO BE popular, thinking ahead and having the vision a new angle so to speak. Not jsut art style, it could be your use of color, your layout as said before.
You can only find out by doing, your not going to get anywhere "surmising" your next step in the arts field.
And most of all, your heart really has to be into what your doing, you have to feel the dream your client wants, and you'll know you have when they say "its like you pulled it right out of my head".
As far as "they will find you" is not true. You have to get out there and get your work under some noses, conventions, website, banners, mail-ins. Your week should consist of 70% work and 30% marketing yourself. You should have jobs lined up month or so in advance, cause with the unsteady flow of income (unless your working for a company studio) you have to TIME your projects carefully.

So your in a University and no one could tell you this? No teacher/professor? Thats pretty sad man.
I wish you the best!

now quit reading and get to work.


Fred Duran
04-08-2006, 04:25 PM
Just something to add: That 30% of your week that you spend marketing yourself. That could include putting your work in an online gallery, or posting it here in whatever board it fits, because there are a lot of editors that come here and look at sites like Deviant Art to find new recruits. Also, talent searches can really get the ball rolling.

Good luck and when you make it, point back here! :laugh:

04-21-2006, 12:12 PM
Hey guys, sorry for the late response...exams =\

I appreciate the words. Unfortunately the university program i'm in is quite irrelavent to illustration in almost every way possible, but i'll strive to do my best. I had a few postings in the "art showcase" forum, where i posted 2 ninja turtle drawings/colourings, maybe if you have time you could take a look and provide some helpful words?? Thanks again.

04-22-2006, 10:08 AM
Here are my thoughts:

I like ShanE's attitude, and I think you should take his advice to heart (not that you haven't). I think that skill and speed are the defining factors here, outside of your ability to market your art and establish a definite style and "niche" in the art community.

A few years ago, I was really heavily into the whole concept of becoming a comic-book illustrator for a living. I pencilled four issues of a comic named HoriZon, for http://www.infinityuprising.com/, as well as some other stuff. Soon after completing that, I decided to attend college as a mechanical engineering major (now HERE's my important point). I made this decision partially because I realized that it would take years to develop my art proficiency and speed to a point where I could actually work in the field, but also (and really primarily) because I became (and continue to be) completely enamored with engineering and the skills you develop in the process of learning about it.

So, what's my point? It's this: If you look at people like Jim Lee, you'll see that, although they ended up illustrating a great deal later, they FIRST put their emphasis on becoming educated in a particular discipline (Lee, as you already probably know, is a qualified MD - AND an immigrant). I remember reading of another artist who was educated as a mechanical engineer. My point is that, if you can, it really doesn't hurt to find out WHAT you really, really love - that is NOT art-related, and can easily earn money for you and any future family - and that you can pursue education/experience in.

This doesn't mean you should stop drawing or anything - it means being realistic. I think that, with enough focused practice, I could realitively quickly become good enough to handle a lot of comics work (for me, the clincher is currently speed). But honestly - why should I? There are so many artists out there who are simply miles ahead of me in terms of skill, and they NEED the work I only would LIKE. Considering that I like mathematics (I'm currently finishing the first fourth of my initial calculus study) as much as art, shouldn't I think of how I can apply those skills/interests in a work capacity, such as through engineering (I want to specialize in hydraulics), and thus free work opportunities up for other people?

Note that I'm not demanding that you do what I'm doing - I'm only trying to present the option to you, if you weren't already aware of actively conscious of it. This way, regardless of how well your career in art goes, you and your family will always have something else you can "fall back" on.

That's what I think.

James Smith

04-24-2006, 02:51 AM
Good points James, I just wanted to add, before I did this full-time I worked as a Lab Technician for 15 years for various companies, while all the while on the side I worked as a prof. sign painter (freehand brush lettering not the vynil stuff), airbrush custom artist on all kinds of materials (though its gone fad for the msot part).
So definatley keep a solid skill while you work your way up through comics part-time to begin with. Oh yeah, also as a hobby on the side to my art now, I do "metal detecting/treasure hunting" which I must say is a blast.

04-24-2006, 01:05 PM
Mine is a very similar career map. I've been working as a project manager/engineer in commercial construction for 9 years and have a degree in construction management. On the side, in the evenings, weekends, whenever I make the time, I am honing my skills, and am now picking up some pretty good projects. My skills 9 years ago were not good enough, and I knew it. So I've worked the 50 hour work-weeks, saved money, paid off all my debt, bought a house, and got married. And improved my skills. I hope to make a complete transition out of management and into full time illustration very soon.

04-24-2006, 10:14 PM
Thanks guys, very inspirational stories...

i'm thinking of doing that also, getting into IT i suppose since i have a background there, and part-timing illustration on the side. Have you guys done anything that has gotten published before?

Ps. nice to hear from you again Jman.

05-03-2006, 12:33 PM
I'm working part time for Dabel Brothers Productions doing Legacy:Rebellion. I get 1 to 3 pages done a week since I'm also holding down my 'other' career, and it's going to be an online weekly release of 1 or 2 pages a week. So, I'm getting pages done ahead of time right now. I hope to springboard off this project into some more 'full time' projects and transition out of my current job.

Just keep at it - things will happen!

05-06-2006, 11:59 AM
I get the feeling that your illustration career will be nothing short of spectacular, Jman.