Help! Question about future pathways

  • I need your collective wisdom and professional advice. So here is the situation: I can retire in about 5-10 years and I always planned on starting a second career in art. A wise friend told me years ago that about ten years before you retire to start investing in the second career so that when you retire, the career is there, ready to be stepped in to. My dilemma is this: I have been more of a traditional artist making commissions off of portraits and murals and such. I still love fine arts and would love to develop my talents there and make a go of it. On the other hand, I love writing and comics and superheroes and have always dreamed of creating my own comic books/graphic novels and have even written a few chapters of one and well as extensively worked on concept art and such of a novel series that I have been writing on the last decade.
    Is it possible to do both? Are there artists out there who are masters at both crafts? Or would my interests and talents be divided? You know, like a serving two masters kind of thing? God gave me a measure of talent and the creativity, I just need to refine my skills and learn everything I can. The problem is that I don't know which way to jump or if I even have to choose between them at all. What are your thoughts?

  • I'm guessing no one has any thoughts on this? Sadness.

  • Saw this. Not a lot of time to reply yet, but have been thinking it over @chrisaakins. Will try and jot some thoughts tomorrow if I have time.

  • @adc thanks. I'm being pretty pathetic, ha!

  • Pro SVS OG

    Hi Chris! I guess if there are artists who make art while holding down one or two day jobs and writers who write their novel in a broom cabinet during the night, there should be no problem with being both a fine artist and a comic book writer/illustrator - especially with the possibility available today of publishing your comic in installments by yourself.
    The major issue, I believe, is that when you have a lot of time and your day is sort of unstructured, it becomes more difficult to actually do stuff - for some weird human psychology reason. So I would invest in preparing yourself for a structure and schedule - maybe having a list of commissions already lined up and some sort of client base. Portrait and murals may be easier for that, but you could also look for jobs as colorist or inker in comics.
    As for artists who do both - the most famous one must be Frank Frazetta. Though he was not a fine artist properly, he did a fair amount of portraits. And he switched from being a comic artist for about 20 years to doing book covers in oil.
    One of my friends is a mural artist who works as a designer in his day job. He does live mural-paintings at street events. There is also the market of indoor mural painting (for offices, restaurants, bars, etc...) which seems to be quite lively judging from what I see around and on the internet.

  • Chris, I don’t think your being pathetic at all. I think your just asking a question only you can answer. I think your on the right path and have found what you want to do and that is art, so prepare to do art. I have always found this quote by Teddy Roosevelt helpful, “Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell’em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find a way to do it.” If you spend the next 5-10 years exploring your art and when you retire you are in a position financially take what you want and leave what you don’t your opportunity’s will be endless and may be very difrent then you think they will be now.
    I also think that smceccarelli make a very important point, learn to manage your time. When you are self employed it is easy to say i can put that off till tomorrow but it is very hard to do two days worth of work tomorrow.

  • Moderator

    @chrisaakins yes! You can do it all. 😃 Check out this guy @albertovaranda on instagram. He does it ALL. Fine art, children’s illustration, and just finished a graphic novel (see the link in his profile).

  • Hi @chrisaakins It's awesome that you have a plan in place and that you have this opportunity to look ahead to your next career. Kudos on thinking about it now while you have time to explore!

    Taking all of my advice with a grain of salt, because I'm somewhat in the same position (not ready to retire yet, but constantly questioning which path to take).

    First, I think it's possible to do both, you see people do it all the time. But often, I believe, they start with a focus on one thing, then the second or third path are expansions on that first thing.

    In my own experience, I have found that by not focusing on one thing at a time, things take way longer, which is not necessarily bad if what you want is to play and have fun and explore. But if you want to make it a second career as you say, and you want to build a decent sized audience, and make some money at it, it will go faster if you focus on one thing at a time. That's not to say you can't continue to do the other thing, but if you do both at the same time.

    Again, that's just what I've seen from my own personal experience, and I would love to hear other people's thoughts on the subject.

    Thank you for posing this thoughtful question, and I look forward to hearing how your decision making process goes!

  • Thank you, everyone, for your responses. @smceccarelli I totally understand the time dilemma. I do most of my artwork on breaks. I tend to do art and neglect other responsibilities when I am working on projects that I am obsessed er...engaged in. But I can see how it would be difficult to work on things that are not your favorite or when it starts to feel like work. Right now that is not a problem, because after working in the education world for so long (even though I have loved it), art is still novel and fun. @burvantill I did check him out. I like his style. I thought that I can also bring my fine arts roots into illustration kind of like @rivuletpaper on Instagram or Chris Van Allsburg (one of my heroes).
    @robgale Yes. I find myself being ADD a little. I want to do inking like in comics yet I love to paint. And then I have always excelled at color pencils. But I get frustrated with each. I think this may be God leading me toward mixed media (ha!). And then there is digital. I really need to learn photoshop. One day at a time, sweet Jesus, one day at a time...

  • @chrisaakins Dude I hear you. Art ADD is something I definitely wrestle with!

  • SVS OG

    @chrisaakins I am definitely struggling with this same thing! What I have discovered is that I don't have to decide all of that today. I think they key is to keep working, learning and trying. As I learn and grow and progress I think that somethings will naturally stick and some will drop out as I find my style, voice and focus. Besides, there is so much overlap! Learning lighting in the illustration class has made my fine art so much better. I can't wait to see what the gesture drawing class will do for my cartoons. Some artist suggest every now and then working in a different medium to keep fresh. To quote Dori "Just keep swimming..." or drawing! 😉

  • SVS OG

    @chrisaakins I’m Trying to find my direction too. I hadn’t done a mural in ages. Childcare was always an issue. Youngest is now in kindergarten. I painted a mural yesterday. One that I had put off for two years. It was so much easier than others I painted. I didn’t realize all those lessons we learn here and other places were so transferable. I planned the mural like crazy. (Like they drove home in the critiquing podcast). Thumbnails and colorstudies. Transferred the image from a small drawing to a large paper. Then transferred it to the wall and painted. My hand was way steadier because of all the inking. So many small lessons turned out to be a very relaxing mural experience! And it turned out nicely.

    Murals vs illustration. More legs on the table or stool, right! I would be so happy if I sold the illustrations and made what I did for the mural. Then I thought, I probably need to do both. It’s good money. They can coexist. And if it gets too much mural and you’re not liking it, cut back, or stop it all together.

    Good luck!

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