I wanted to write something for all of the younger artists on dA (those who are not yet in college), who are thinking about pursuing art as a major or a career. I am in no way an expert, but I do have a lot of experience to share, and if you care to hear it, than feel free to read (: And I would love to hear people's thoughts and opinions on some of the ideas I present.
This past semester I have buckled down and have started to really think about art as a career and not just as a pastime anymore. I think this partially stems from the transition from high school to college. It's a strange thing being thrown into 'the adult world' and having to think about everything in a whole new light. For me, I had my mind made up that I wanted to be an artist since I could conceive the concept of having a job. I had never swayed in that decision until I was faced with the reality of the art world. It is a CRUEL, COMPETITIVE, CHALLENGING, TIME-CONSUMING industry. There is no sugar coating it, there are very few exceptions. And for me, the idea of joining that world was a scary one. A BFA is not a safety net. It is not a law degree, a business degree, or a computational media degree that will gaurantee financial stability after college. An art degree is a gamble. And it is a gamble that I am taking right now....And it scares the living daylights out of me.
I want to succeed. I am driven to succeed. OH PLEASE LET ME NOT BE MAKING THE BIGGEST MISTAKE OF MY LIFE Haha
Anyway, I have built up a pretty good business for myself (online and offline) and that is really what gave me the confidence to continue with my passion and try to make it my livelihood.
And all of these muddled thoughts that have been bouncing around my head have really had me thinking this past week: What has lead me to this point? What advice can I contribute to dA's younger population to encourage them to stay committed to their dreams and pursue art as I have chosen to?
There are key components to succeeding in this challenging business. I will bring up what I feel is essential if you are truly thinking about pursuing art in college.
1) PRACTICE. WORK. EVERYDAY.
I cannot stress this enough. If you are not a person who can commit to the time it takes to succeed in the art world, let it go. Do it on the side. It is not the career for you. In my first semester of college I had 1 studio art class. That class was about 90% of my workload for first semester. I contributed over 20 hours a week to that class (sometimes more). Over Thanksgiving Break, I worked 12 hour days, every day for the final project in the class. All of that time and work paid off Thankfully I received an A+ in the class (the teacher later emailed me and said that she rarely gave out A's).
I do not say all of this to brag and gloat. I say this as advice. Start preparing NOW!
In middle school and high school, I worked on art every single day. I was that kid scribbling in my notebook instead of listening to the math teacher (btw, not encouraging that ).
You should work AT LEAST an hour a day to improve. Right now, I average 4-6 hours a day working on art (mostly commissions and college work, but I also allow time to work on other exercises). This is how I make my money....Luckily it is enough so that I do not need a job on the side; however, it would be nowhere near enough to support myself if my parents were not paying for my education.
Get my point? Art is time consuming. That is the most important lesson any budding artist can learn
2) LEARN THE BASICS.
I cannot even begin to tell you how much it irks me to see young artists trying to find 'their style' when they have not even yet mastered the basics. Before you can stylize something, it is ESSENTIAL that you know how to draw realistically. Once you have mastered the principles of art and design (line, shape, form, color, texture, value, ect.) then you can use those tools to create whatever art you desire.
The problem with learning a 'style' first- such as anime, for instance- is that it is very hard to learn how to draw realistically once you have programmed that 'style' in your head. And with no concept with how things look naturally, it is very hard to create original work. Many artists who start off drawing in a 'style' before they have mastered the basics, end up drawing 'copycat work' because they do not understand how to draw an original idea and then translate it to their 'style'. It is also very difficult to create believable work if one does not understand the underlying properties that make the style work.
Before I began drawing 'sparkle wolves' and shiny animals and things, I took many many art classes. X.X I was the youngest person taking a figure drawing class at my local art center. Picture an 11 year old studying the nude bodies of live men and women. That was me. I also took many introductory drawing classes.
Before I was enrolled in classes, I taught myself. I read books, printed out reference material, and set up still lives in my house to draw.
My advice to all the budding artists out there:
Do everything in your power to draw from life! Whether that means taking classes or setting up still lives for yourselves: DO IT! It will be immensely beneficial. Draw the same thing 20 times, 20 different ways. I remember once I was on a class field trip. The entire bus ride I spent drawing my left hand over and over again XD.
This may seem redundant...but you cannot succeed in the art world unless you commit with all your heart. As I have already stated, it takes more time than you may be able to fathom to make art work as a major in college and as a career.
What are steps you can take to commit (besides practicing everyday and learning the basics)?
- Take art classes in highschool. Once you are finished taking basic classes, take higher level classes. If your school offers IB or AP classes TAKE THOSE. Do everything in your power to get fives on your AP portfolios.
-Offer commissions. The best way to gain experience in becoming part of the art world is to become part of the art world Start off with low prices. Learn how to be an honest salesperson and work with clients. Whether you are working for a few points or a few dolars- this is very good experience. I have learned so much through offering commissions. I have definitely made my mistakes and have had to deal with upset clients, but it has taught me so much
-Make art your major! And it call comes down to this. If you truly are passionate about art and have the drive to make it your career- major in it. It does no good in the art world to choose it as a minor. Majoring in art will give you the experience you need to be able to make it a career...
Anyway, I know that was a lot. I just felt like sharing some of my thoughts. If anyone has questions or other points to bring up, feel free to do so. I am in a thoughtful mood.