I have a silly question for the community which I’ve been pondering.
Do you think there comes a time for SVS Students to graduate from SVS Learn?
I’ve seen some amazing artists come through here and get book deals and do amazing things. Some of us, myself included, are still here trying to get better and working on our goals, submitting pieces to the monthly HTFYA Prompts, etc.
There’s been a few extra classes added; however, for the most part, I’ve taken all the classes already.
How do you know it’s time to move on?
I love SVS but I can’t afford being a subscriber forever…
Thoughts from the community?
@Jeremy-Ross that is why we are building the pro level classes. Children's book pro has been great for people that are ready for it. Self publishing pro will be launched next month too! Graphic novel pro and book cover pro are in the works as well
Thanks @Lee-White! I’ve taken Children’s Book Pro and can honestly say it’s the best class I’ve taken! It helped me with my own PB Dummies, which I’m querying currently.
I’ve been a faithful SVS Subscriber since 2019, and being a new year and all, I thought about this question about graduating from SVS and how many more years I need to invest in the program to finally become pro, if ever.
As part of the SVS Mission, it’s states in short,
“We want to help you get to where you are going in the quickest and most direct route possible.”
For me, it’s been a long and bumpy road.
I’ve purchased HTFYA Book, CB Pro, Power Portfolio Critique, and been an annual subscriber for 5 years, which is over $3,000 in spend thus far.
I’m a firm believer of being a life long learner, and can easily make up the $3,000 with just 1 book deal, but I’m struggling, admittedly.
In The Gambler, Johnny Cash says:
“You got to know when to hold 'em
Know when to fold 'em
Know when to walk away..”
I’ve never been a quitter, but I also don’t want to be delusional thinking my lucky break is just around the corner.
How do you know if you should keep going or face reality and move on?
After having been rejected by over 30 agencies, you begin to question what the hell am I doing?
Do I even belong in this amazing world of children’s literature? Why is it so freaking hard to break in?
I’ve heard some professionals say that it’s taken them 10 years to make it.
In perspective, I’m only on year 6…
If it takes 10 years or 20 years to make it, or perhaps I never do, I suppose the journey is the most important element.
I’m sure I’m not the only one here thinking this, right??
Art is hard…
Just wanted to say that you are right. Art is hard.
I know I've personally been taking art more seriously for the past five years. Like you, I've spent a considerable sum on art books, supplies, and courses.
Despite my best efforts, although I have made considerable improvements, I am not pro level or realistically in the ball park of 'close.'
I think it is frustrating and disappointing at times that the level of skill required to break into this industry seems to be incredibly high while in so many other industries 3-6 months of training is enough to get your foot in the door.
For me personally, I am working on graphic novel. I don't expect that I will make money on it at all. But that isn't the purpose. The reason I am working on this book that will take a year to complete and provide no financial gains is because I have ideas I want to bring to life. I wish I could draw better. I can't. So I have to use the skills I have to do my best.
Bringing it back to you, I think you have to decide why you are spending your time doing art.
If you spent the next 10 or 20 years working on your own projects and they are never given the attention they deserve, will you still feel happy that you spent your life making art?
Do you have stories or projects that you want to see brought to fruition even if they don't quite live up to the way you imagined them in your head?
Is the time you spend making art taking you away from your family and friends or other interests that would make your life happier or more fulfilling? Or do you enjoy every moment you get to spend on your craft?
Is the reason you are on this path for the sake of financial gain or for the love of craft or somewhere in between?
If art or this program is no longer providing you with value equivalent to your investment, there's nothing wrong with stepping away for a minute to take a breather and evaluate. You may miss it and want to come back and charge ahead with renewed vigor or you may realize that there are other pursuits in your life that are more deserving of your time, attention, and money.
I wish you the best Jeremy and hope that you can find satisfaction with whatever choices you make!
MarcRobinson last edited by
@Jeremy-Ross hi mate, I can totally relate to this. I got my first agent in May last year, and it completely came out of the blue. That being said, I've yet to get any work from them, so I also feel a bit in limbo (it's an illustration agency rather than a literary agency). I'm planning to take a step back, review my work to see if I can figure out what's going on, and lean into my own projects. I need to tweak my style a bit too. It's too over-tendered and takes too long. I don't know if that helps lol. But you're not alone mate.
Cheers @MarcRobinson ! Thanks for sharing your experience.
@Jeremy-Ross i feel ya man and i think all your hard work is respectable. You are getting some really interesting work lately in my opinion. The more graphic stuff is cool. However, as i mentioned in the portfolio crit, the portfolio isn't there just yet. In my opinion, it looks like it shows your journey. Which is fine for where you are. There are many different styles and lots of pieces on there. That is good for figuring out who you are and the direction you are going.
However, that is exactly what shouldn't be sent to agents and publishers just yet. It says to them "hey, you could get any number of styles and quality from me". That is why just one crit is sort of the starting point. Then comes the editing process which can feel brutal. But I'd rather you just have 3 really good pieces on your website that show EXACTLY the direction you are going in NOW. When you are developing yourself, you should ask yourself "is all this in a similar enough style where it looks like "me"? Is it all at a high enough quality in terms of story telling? What can i do to improve these pieces even more? So, i'd say. you have some serious editing that needs to happen. get rid of all the old stuff and focus on a cohesive 10 piece portfolio that is all in a similar direction.
Don't think of that stuff as being a waste of time though. It is what led you here and got you to this point. In terms of how to use svs, the question i have is can you go through and do some of the assignments in your style and have it look convincing? can you make a kids bedroom in that graphic style (perspective class assignement) and can you add some story telling to it? Can you enter the monthly prompts and get something good each and every time? Is your quality as high as the people who were winning critique arena? Marek comes to mind for me when i think of the work he submitted. All really good story telling, all in a similar paint style, and all freakin' really good. That is how you know if you are ready. And even then, that is just the beginning...
Hope that helps some. Let me know if you have any questions at all. : )
@MarcRobinson Your work has been really great Marc. I'm so glad you got an agent. For your style being so rendered, i don't think you need to really change it too much, unless YOU want to. My advice there would that that with a rendered style, your subject matter needs to be picked very carefully. Scenes with dragons and castles in a rendered style can look dated very quick. My advice for people with rendered styles is really play with design and make sure your content looks current and modern. Im working with another student who did beautiful scenes that had a very classical look to them. But then she was picking clothing and settings that looked like something from illustrations 100 years ago. She had the same problem, even though the images were at an extremely high level. Hope that makes sense! I'm a big fan of your work and can't wait to see where you go!
Norman Morana last edited by
Hey man, I've seen your work on over the years and it is cool seeing the change from when you were just leaning to draw with intention. Now you have a couple images that I really quite like.
Who knows how this will all turn out for us all. What I want to say can be dangerous. I don't want to give false hope, but if you were ever just about to turn the corner, I think you're the closest you've been to the corner, yet. My opinion that you didn't ask for. I would get rid of the signature you have on your pieces, it is affecting the composition. I also think your whole portfolio needs to look like these two images.
These two are a step in the right direction. There are clear, clean values and color. Clean silhouettes. Good use of shape. And rich texture. You can work on concept further, but to me there is something really striking about these two that I want to see more of. The shark is rusty in a way, and that is just something really cool. You have to want that change, though.
Don't be afraid to trim all the fat from your portfolio and sketchbook. Most everything you make moving forward is going to be better.
Hi @Lee-White , thank you so much for your thoughtful feedback. I love how you always keep it real.
I agree with everything you’ve said and need to revisit my portfolio and take time to implement the changes we discussed as a matter of priority.
I really do love making art and my focus is on just getting better and showing my best work on my portfolio.
I have a full-time job in engineering & construction; therefore, my progress is going to be slower as my time is restricted to work and family obligations.
I will say that before SVS, my art was absolutely terrible. By entering all the contests and taking the courses (including doing the homework), it helped me improve and create portfolio pieces throughout my journey.
When I meet anyone interested in storytelling and making art for children’s books, I always refer them to SVS.
You guys rock!
Thanks for the support and guidance, as always.
PS. I had a tough day yesterday, and venting on SVS forum is probably not the best approach to express feelings of failure when it comes to my art journey. I do appreciate the kind responses.
Hi @Norman-Morana , thank you so much for your feedback! I also feel like those two pieces you selected are my strongest pieces, so thanks for pointing that out.
Joseph Campbell said, “The dark night of the soul comes just before revelation.”
I thought about this after I hit the Submit button on my post, - “Why the hell did I just send that? I should delete that. I know better, etc…”
But then I realize this is a community that lifts each other up. I let it go and happy I did, because of the support and feedback from the team is greatly appreciated.
So, maybe the corner is dark, and maybe I am closer than I’ve been before; the point is -I see-“keep going and keep getting better”.
Your advice is spot on regarding my portfolio, and mirrors Lee’s advice, it needs quite a bit of grooming and trimming and unity in style.
Regarding my signature, no offense taken. Thanks for your feedback. Should I lose the circle around my name or do you recommend something else?
Thanks again for taking the time to respond, means a lot to me!
I also love seeing your growth as well! Keep up the amazing work.
Mimi Simon last edited by
@Jeremy-Ross If you've taken all the classes but you still want to work on your art just work on your own projects and stop paying to be a subscriber. I've never been a subscriber but I still use the forum and the discord to be in the community. getting good at art is mostly just putting in the hours, not shoveling out money (once you learn the fundamentals at least)
Hi @Nxndraw , thank you for sharing your feedback and experience about your own personal journey and struggles.
Firstly, I wish you all the success on your graphic novel. You will definitely learn a lot in the process, and I hope you make some money, too!
To answer your question, I love writing and drawing; and especially love storytelling in the form of books. Whether I ever make it or not, the love for it remains. I love this journey and I don’t plan to stop anytime
That being said, sometimes I prioritize art over exercise, because I can only work on my craft during nights and weekends, which isn’t ideal. (Smile).
Thanks again for your thoughtful feedback and wishing you much success on your graphic novel!
Thanks @Mimi-Simon !
You’re right, it’s about the work. I can honestly say that every penny I’ve spent here has been worth it, but I will definitely need to move on eventually.
@Jeremy-Ross Do not give up. As @Norman-Morana me too I think you might be just about to turn the corner. If you give up now, you've wasted how many years of hard work?
Finding success as an illustrator nowadays is super hard. It also means a lot of people are not willing to take this path, so if you keep on working, you will make it.
Your work has great potential, some illustrations from your portfolio are already very interesting. But... some are not that good, or simply very different in style. I'd make it more cohesive, delete old work, focus on one style for now, and work on your projects (picture book, short comic, something!) - as a learning opportunity, but also as something you can shop around, and show to agents and editors.
That's how I established myself as an author-illustrator in Europe (where I live) and how I now aim to build a career in the US.
And FIY, 30 rejections is nothing. I sent about 50 queries before an agent was interested. And I believe myself to be very lucky, as many others have been sending about 100 query letters before getting an offer of representation.
Being rejected is a staple in our industry Better get used to it!
Good luck and do not give up, buddy!
Thanks @mag ! I appreciate your kind words and feedback.
I don’t intend on giving up; this is way too much fun!
I actually enjoy getting rejections, because sometimes I get a little wisdom and feedback with each response. I keep a rejections folder and appreciate each one very much. I said 30 rejections, but it’s more like 50 if I’m being honest, which is okay. The fact remains, I’m in the arena, not the stands.
You’re right, time to get the chainsaw on my portfolio! That’s my #1 to-do list for this weekend.
Congratulations on your success; I’m a huge fan!
MarcRobinson last edited by
@Lee-White hey mate thank you for taking the time to give such a thoughtful response. I really appreciate it. You've given me a lot to think about. I DO want to change up my style a bit, as it takes SO long and I tend to lose the personality of the pencil drawing underneath! I'm working on doing some traditional watercolour, and want to merge that aesthetic with my style.
KathrynAdebayo last edited by
@Jeremy-Ross I think you recently hit on something that really works well with your talent with that paper-cut style. Good luck with everything. When I scroll through your current website I recognize many pieces. Your work is memorable, so I think that means you're on a great path.
Thank you for your kind words @KathrynAdebayo ! I’m definitely enjoying the style very much and will keep experimenting.
Sarah VanDam last edited by Sarah VanDam
@Jeremy-Ross I agree with what everyone has said so far! When I go to your website, I see significant elements of professional work in pretty much every piece, and if your energy and excitement about the work is still driving you forward, I say don’t give up. DO follow where your energy is taking you.
I’m also kind of similar to you in that I don’t feel like I have ONE cohesive style yet. In some ways, I wonder if I could be an illustrator who can switch styles to fit whatever project I’m working on, given I can be consistent in that style if I need to be. LeYuen Pham is especially an inspiration to me in this regard (You should check her out. She did win a Caldecott, too). I’m puzzling over this, and wondering just how zeroed in on one style I have to be to be a successful professional artist. Frankly, I feel like I still need to experiment for a little while as well, and I’m already coming up on three years out of my undergrad where illustration was my major (so I’ve also invested a lot of money, but at this point don’t have much to lose).
My favorite things from your portfolio: the Penelope and Bunny pieces, and the pose of the squirrel coloring.