I Don't Know Where I Want To Be In 5 Years



  • Hi all,

    I 've just started listening to the podcasts and am two in. So much inspiration already. I am going to start filling sketchbooks as advised just of studies that I wont show anyone and of artists I admire. I wanted to do the public declaration of where I aim to be in 5 years. Trouble is - what if I don't know where I want to be in 5 years?

    Situation at the moment - I am about to start my second year at uni studying BA Illustration & Animation, I'm only really interested in the illustration side but this was the closest course to home - I'm 41 and have small children.

    Am a bit worried that I might be on the wrong course - I love mixed media and want to also get into sculpture, incorporate textiles into my illustration etc but Illustration is my big love and is the art work I buy for my home. I hate HATE the digital side of things and am really, really struggling with that.

    Favourite modern illustrators are Dave McKean and Shaun Tan, Amelie Frechais and would love to be able to cross over like they do. I have subbed to the SVS classes and need to stop making excuses and start watching the classes before I go back to school. (See, I was listening) But this 5 year goal has me worried that I don't have one in my head.

    I do know I would like a career as a self employed creative person. But doing what I don't know - I do love childrens books but worry that my subject matter or interests might not be right (zombies and stuff) but I liked all that dark stuff when I was a child and don't really like how sugar coated things are now so would like to explore darker stories and issues. How do I verbalise all this into a goal?

    Sorry if this is a bit waffly - I hope it's readable.
    Any help or advice would be appreciated x



  • Try making your piece with digital art because it's great fun once you get the hang of it. I did the beginners photoshop painting class will terry has made. It gets you started in an easy way. Just so you know I hated the idea of digital painting before too. Love it now. But I also still paint traditionally too.



  • @whoopidoo You remind me of me! I have rejected digital in the past, but now realize it can be hours of fun and a useful tool, and if I get really into it, then who knows?! But it's not my focus right now. I am not even sure illustration is my focus, but I do know that learning it will help me communicate better in all forms of art. Fine art will always be my first love, and I know that, but what I have gained from learning more about the illustration side of things has really informed (and improved) my work. Like you, I have the "self employed creative person" goal. And maybe that is enough for now--because I have focused on getting my work out there and good things have been happening. Maybe you will find a niche, maybe a bunch of niches. Maybe your versatility will bring new and fresh things to the table. I don't know--I guess I am relating more than contributing here...And as for the dark stuff-- it seems like there is more and more of that out there for kids. It seems that people are finally acknowledging that many kids love that stuff and relate to it. I've seen your zombies. I think kids would find them awesome.



  • Hi Whoopidoo! Your name reminds me of a bird I had growing up named Poopidoo!

    First of all, what do you mean when you say you hate the digital side of things? Digital art? Social media? Having to photograph or scan your own work? If it's just digital art you're referring to, then I don't think you have to worry too much. There are still a ton of illustrators who work traditionally.

    Second of all, I'll offer some unqualified advice. lol Hopefully one of the instructors will jump in eventually though.

    Personally, I don't think you need all the answers from the get go and you can just start with what you do know. You know you want to be a full time, self employed artist. You know you like to work in traditional mediums, you are drawn to art that explores darker themes, and you are interested in illustration. You know that there are certain things all professional artists need, regardless of their industry- they need a portfolio/body of work and they need exposure. I think that's probably enough to start with.

    Instead of thinking of it as "This is exactly what I'll be doing in 5 years, and this is how my art will look like", it might be more helpful to think of it as a 5 year action plan to a main overarching goal. You can work backwards from your main goal (being a full time artist), with your 5 year timeline in mind, using your artistic tendencies as a guideline to make a plan.

    What about the things that you don't know yet and still have to discover, like where you fit into the industry with your dark stuff? Well, you can put that research and discovery into your 5 year timeline. Make actionable steps that will get you the answers you need to your questions. Maybe you can devote a certain amount of your 5 year timeline to researching the industry. Maybe you can devote a certain amount of your timeline to studying a few different artists. Maybe you can devote a certain amount of your timeline to making an experimental portfolio. It's up to you and what will serve you best.

    Luckily in the 3 Point Perspective podcast notes for episode 2, they have a good examples of what things to put into action. Notice that career and artist exploration are in the first 2 phases of their 3 phase plan, and that they say phase 1 could take 1-3 years.

    Anyway, hope that helps! I'm in a similar place as you! I want to find my place and where I fit in. Right now I'm just trying to make some personal pieces, working on some skills, and seeing where it takes me. Wishing you the best of luck!



  • Thank you @tessaw some really good points there. I did start doing the 9 grid yesterday thinking that would be the easy place to start and it would take me half hour max. Wrong! I could only think of 4 modern illustrators close to the style I am hoping I am in or would like to be near and it took me all day to fill that grid! I couldn't believe it - I thought I knew loads of illustrators but turns out they are mostly the older ones from my childhood! So that was a really good exercise and I think it's going to be helpful to repeat it every few months to see how I progress.

    Working backwards is a perfect way to think about this.

    You made me laugh with the poopidoo! Wishing you the best of luck too



  • @tessaw Oh I forgot to say - it's the digital art I'm struggling with. I was told by one of the young 'uns at uni that ALL students know photoshop. Um, no most of us older ones don't and we feel like we are holding that class back with our hands permanently in the air. I will definitely check out that Will Terry class before I go back to uni - thanks @Jason-Bowen Hopefully something will click. I just can't seem to keep it in my head. It frustrates me so much.



  • @eli The pre-degree course ruined Fine Art for me. We did rotations and the FA rotation was all cardboard box sculptures and video installations. Trouble is I do feel like I have one foot in illustration and one foot in somewhere else - maybe fine art after all, or craft? Or all of them.

    I'm loving that people are relating though - I'm glad I stopped lurking on here and started talking - it's been such a help already. And thank you. That's what I'm hoping. I was a weird dark kid, I don't believe they just disappeared.



  • Phototshop is hard! I've had the benefit of working with it slowly through the years since I was 13 or so (now I'm almost 35) and I can't imagine if I had to start learning it from scratch today. I think even now, I probably know less than 10% of it's capabilities. Lol.

    What are the 4 illustrators you included? If we made another post on here, asking for artist recommendations similar to what you're looking for, we may discover more modern illustrators that would work for you.



  • @whoopidoo "The pre-degree course ruined Fine Art for me. We did rotations and the FA rotation was all cardboard box sculptures and video installations." UGH! That would be a NO for me also, LOL. I didn't go to art school so I was spared that sort of thing. I just like the freedom of fine art. Illustration is a lot more challenging for me, but that isn't a bad thing. I feel like I've got feet all over the place (which seems like I've got an unnatural number of feet, haha)

    Nowadays, it is cool to be weird, dark, nerdy, etc., but when I was a kid it wasn't. It was just lonely and frustrating. I think it's great, all the fun quirky stuff that is available now!



  • @whoopidoo If your topics are dark don't force yourself to be all fluffy and cutie. 🙂 Be dark 😛
    Photoshop is frightening at first. I hated it when I first used it and tried to avoid it for a while. But once you understand the dry foundation you will love it. It gets intuitive after a while. You don't need to know all the functions to work in it.
    Also a good introduction to digital is an iPad with an apple pencil. The iPad drawing/painting apps are super simple to use and geared towards artist.
    As for what you'd like to do, try simplifying your goals to one or two most important things. The others that are not that important will just take away time from your main goals. But I am struggling with the same thing of not knowing where to go. 🙂
    Good luck



  • Thanks @tessaw sorry for my slow replies - I don't seem to be getting the email notifications. The four that came to me straight away were Dave McKean, Chris Riddell, Amelie Flechais and Shaun Tan. By the end of the day I had added Oliver Jeffers, Emily Hughes, Man Arenas and Charles Vess. I also had Wolf Erlbruch but no space.



  • Thanks @nasvikdraws I must admit it is helpful to know others are in the same situation, so often you see on social media that people seem to have it all sussed out. Is the only way to have Photoshop at home the monthly pay thing? It's so expensive.

    I have to thank everyone on this post - you are right, I definitely need to break things down into bitesize chunks and hope that will make a bigger sense of the whole thing.

    And thank you - I have tried to be cute and fluffy... it all went a bit sinister 😛



  • @eli I must admit I do sometimes wonder if I'm doing the right thing or if I would be better finding my way through doing courses like on here (I'm hoping to try and mage my time better this term and do both) But now that I've started I want my kids to see you are never to old and that I can see things through... plus I do get to use all their equipment and I do enjoy it but I am more confused than when I started. I know what you mean though - octopus feet 😃