Episode 2 - Am I Too Old To Get Started?



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    Artwork by Tanner Garlick

    We just dropped episode 2! (We are doing 3 episodes this first week, then we begin our regular release schedule which will be every other week)

    Many people wonder, is it too late? Or, am I too old to start?

    Will, Lee, and Jake talk about this age old question and discuss how it isn’t too late. There are many successful creatives that didn’t start until they were older. Lee shares his story and how he didn’t start art until later on in life.

    We talk about ways you can amp up and make the most of your early years if you are starting for the first time, or looking to accelerate your growth later in life. We discuss some of the benefits of age and the need for sacrifice and prioritizing to create a thriving career in art.

    You can listen to the episode and read the show notes here.

    This thread is to discuss this topic. Tell us:

    • about your own experiences getting work.
    • ideas you have for people struggling to find work.
    • where you disagree with something we've said.
    • what your main take away from this episode is.

    All right, love to hear your thoughts everyone!



  • Great episode today, really found it useful as I'm 26 years old and possessing only high school level art skills. I think the steps laid out will be a great help as my goal is to illustrate my own comic/manga. I've been doing lessons on SVS and I previously felt unsure what order to practise the fundamentals. But today I feel like I have some clear guidelines :)

    If anyone had any suggestions that may help feel free to let me know, I'm currently on creative composition on SVS and practising figure drawing in the Gesture stage.



  • Excellent! Looking forward to this and will report back.



  • Great episode! Certainly comforting to know that there are a few advantages of starting the process with a few years under your belt. I'm 38 and kind of mid process in the first year in some regards and second in other areas.

    I think the time I had from college to now has filled my story bank account with adorable stories of kids. And man, I know the decorative market. At least from a buyer's perspective. I have quite a network of friends that are the consumers. I know what I like in a children's book and have an insane amount of friends to talk to about that. Something I didn't have coming out of college. It's great to talk to classmates, but I have four tiny people in my house that are a big target market for "children's books." And I have a house. That means I decorate it. And know what prints I want in fabrics, etc.

    Plus, this art spark hasn't gone away. I still want to make art and learn and grow as an artist. Thanks again for the tough love about time constraints... I do have more time I can use for my art. I have made sacrifices already. I don't watch TV during the school day. No more watching the shows during the day that the husband doesn't like. Like... So You Think You Can Dan and Project Runway.

    I like the idea for the phase 1 and phase 2 of getting started.. I feel like different parts of my art are in both phases. Characters are in phase one, floral patterns and food art are for sure in phase 2. But dedicating time to improving is certainly liberating. Its hard to accept that some areas need more time before finished projects are ready to tackle. Thanks for the pod cast. Good stuff.



  • Excellent podcast. So full disclosure - I am really, really old - not like just 35! I will be 54 this month and my poor husband thinks I have early stages of senility for even contemplating this whole journey. And on bad days, I think he is right and I should just get real and continue to live the beige life of an administrator.
    I used to doodle a bit as a kid but no serious interest in visual arts (my creative outlet was always on stage). So it was good to hear that others have come to this somewhat later in life.
    And while I take the point that depth of lived experience can be a great thing to bring to the table, there is also a lifetime of baggage to sort through as well. And that ticking time bomb of the end fast approaching is ever present. It is hard not to look for short cuts to progress when you are at a point in life where you can actually see that white light on the not too distant horizon.

    Ok - now that I have cheered everyone up - thanks again for the podcast! It has given me some (faint) hope :-)



  • When I was in college (back in the early '00's - I sound so old saying that), one of the top animation students was a guy that was a banker until he was 40. Then he quit to study animation - when he graduated he got a job working for Nickelodeon.



  • I really appreciated the part about phases. It helped me to have a framework for the information that I am learning. Here is just one small example: Common advice for successful portfolio work is for it all to have a consistent theme and style. Don't dilute it! This has paralyzed me in the past, because in my journey I am not there yet. I am exploring multiple techniques, subjects and styles. Do I need to just pick one? How do I know what to pick?! The phase framework, however, allows me to label myself as being in phase one, mastering my craft. That means social media showing progress is just for me. I can save the excellent portfolio advice for later, when I am ready.



  • @missmushy You can do it! Just focus on the here and now :) I'm rooting for you! :D



  • @juliepeelart I feel exactly the same! I guess I'm still on phase one, where I should just focus on studying and practicing and pumping out as much art as I can.



  • @lady-chamomile Thanks for the pep talk! I'll keep swimming til my zimmer frame is rusty!! :-D



  • Hello! I'm 33 years old and with not much formal training. A little more than a year ago I decided to that I want this as my career, so I've focused more intensely on improving, but I do feel discouraged when I see 17 year olds making amazing work; so this has been very encouraging!

    Questions: I've heard it on this podcast, and also said by Ross Tran https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxVfsG8srqA that finding a good mentor and starting a feedback cycle is an awesome thing to have in your artistic journey. How can someone who didn't go to art school make those kinds of connections?

    How did everyone here decide what they wanted to do with their art? I'm kinda at a loss. I like illustrating, but making comic books seems so hard to do as a source of income, and childrens books don't appeal all that much to me. So I'm kinda at a loss as far as how to make this into a living.

    Thanks everyone! Have a wonderful day!



  • I decided to move into art at 39. Not quite out of the blue as Lee did (I had been drawing since I was a kid and even did a couple of gigs along the years), but definitely coming from a totally different career and life path. I went back to art school (AAU in SF) and graduated in 2016 at 43 - I kept my job all the time, which nicely paid for art school. It's now almost exactly two years since I finished school. I work part time as art director - illustrating as well as working with great illustrators for editorial and advertisement - and the rest of the time I freelance. I'm just starting to get some nice jobs since about half a year.

    Guess what: nobody ever expressed the slightest interest in my age or asked to see my ID...
    Maybe that's what the years and experience are for: to realize that the only obstacles in any path are the ones you make for yourself and the only prejudices that cripple you are the ones you allow into your own thinking.

    I'm only at the very beginning of my illustration career - but from my point of view I'm also barely half way through my life. There's so much time ahead that I could even consider switching careers once more and learning something totally new....

    Great podcast episode again, though I feel the age "issue" is purely imaginary.



  • It's really nice to have confirmation in life that we're doing the right thing or at least headed in the right direction. I enjoyed the podcast.

    I think the greatest advantage an older person has is that wonderful gift of time. With less required of us..I'm speaking from a mothers perspective.. more of our time can be devoted to our own pursuits. That's my story.. there are times I do feel I've missed out in many ways, but I try to remember that my only limitations are the ones I put on myself. It may be that I will never be a superstar in the world of illustration [!] but I don't ever feel that the reason for that might be my age! We're very lucky in that, this industry, as Will Terry mentioned, doesn't require muscle so much as it does vivid use of imagination and hard work. You can develop those traits well into your senior years. How fun is that. Thanks for another informative, entertaining podcast guys..you work great together.



  • @lady-chamomile said in Episode 2: Am I Too Old To Get Started?:

    I'm kinda at a loss. I like illustrating, but making comic books seems so hard to do as a source of income, and childrens books don't appeal all that much to me. So I'm kinda at a loss as far as how to make this into a living.

    What is it that interests you? Why do you make art? As a mental release? A way to tell stories?



  • Um, the link at the top of this thread is taking me to episode 1 of the podcast, not episode 2. Can someone give me a good link?

    EDIT: I found the right link, but maybe someone should edit the link above anyway ;-)



  • I'm 61! I'm not really trying to make a career for myself but I am definitely wanting to increase my skills. I even have done a few jobs here and there. Mainly I do personal projects. I love SVS and the forums! I also enjoy learning from the videos, podcasts, etc. I studied art many years ago, drew my whole life (at some times more than others). I'm still learning and have A LONG way to go. Hopefully it will keep my brain cells alive as I grow older :-)



  • @smceccarelli Im turning 38 soon and I have a similar story to yours. You give me hope!



  • Loved this podcast. So much great info. I love hearing their different "perspectives" especially when they differ, so interesting. It is nice to think about the phases and to have an outline so I can work on the gaps.

    I do take issue with telling people to get less sleep. I think that getting enough sleep, eating healthy and exercising are so important for your creativity. But maybe I have spent too much of my life sleep deprived. It effects my mood, stamina, relationships, self esteem, belief in self, and drive to get things like art done. I think if you need to get less sleep to get things done it should be temporary, but not a life habit. That is my opinion and what I have found works much better in my life (just turned 37 😀)



  • I've had illustration work off/on over the years, but so far, not as a full-time job. ( I'm 40 something, currently make my living as a graphic designer / web designer ) IMHO, I would not be surprised if a good number of highly regarded artist "started" making their very best work in their 30s and 40s. An older artist has a huge inventory of ideas and experiences to draw from. IMHO, it only gets better with age. I agree, as artist, we never retire. Our entire life is an "art project".



  • I needed to hear the Phase 1 and Phase 2 talk. I'm about to be 32. I have a full time day job supplying the only income for my wife and kids ages 3 and 1 with yet another due in November. The only formal art education I've had is one basic drawing class at a general university and SVS. I really want to be able to turn the corner and start freelancing soon but if I'm honest with myself I know my art isn't up to it. Not yet. And that thought is discouraging. Thinking of this journey in phases and knowing the plan of action and what to be doing and looking for is a great help to push through the grind. Thank you guys for not only doing these podcasts and classes but also for loading them all with valuable and usable information. The repeat button is going to get worn out fast.