About proactivity and putting ourselves out there


  • Pro

    @missmushy What you're talking about is exemplified by Will, Jake and Lee saying they constantly get artists coming up to them asking them "Am I good enough to be an illustrator? Am I good enough to get paid work?" or any variations of that question. There's really a hole in the middle of this path to an illustration career where we don't know if we're there yet and it's so easy to fall in and not get out. But I'd suggest to anyone reading this: make a portfolio, send it out, and see what happens! You may already be there and you don't know it yet! Even if there are still flaws in your work, you can still be hire-able. At any rate, if you don't know if you're "there yet", sending out your stuff is the best way to know 🙂

    And on that note... I know it can be more intimidating to send postcards, for many reasons and it's also a upfront cost to yourself. But if you're not ready to do the postcards, emailing is still a great way to start. I know lots of people have found success with the postcard, but this isn't an all-or-nothing, "go big or go home" situation. I started with postcards, but when I ran out of money I switched to just emailing out my portfolio. Well... every single job I've gotten so far has been from my emails!


  • SVS OG

    @nessillustration I hear you. if you send out your stuff and get no feedback other than silence, it is easy to fill in the blanks as to the reasons why that might be with all sorts of negative things that sound true to you. A good mentor can help give constructive feedback in that blank space and move you forward, I think.
    There is also that first impression thing - one chance to make a good one and if you put out crap work in front of gatekeepers that’s the chance blown. Who knows if you’d get a second one. I think this holds a lot of people back too. Not saying it is right, but it is a consideration.


  • Pro

    @missmushy That's an interesting point! And you could argue for it, like it really makes sense in a way, although in my experience that's not really how it really is. If anyone who is reading this has this fear, hear this: no art director is sitting there laughing at you or judging you! They want you to succeed, to improve. Even if your work is not the best the first time around, they will see the improvement and that means something to them. They see that you keep working at it, improving, that there is potential there, that you are consistent and a hard-worker. Those things are so important, almost as important as skill! You may also be surprised by the feedback you get 🙂

    The first time I sent, I got a lot of interesting feedback! People took the time to point me to resources and make suggestions about what to add/change in my portfolio. When you come back later with the changes that they suggested implemented, that is the BEST impression you could make!

    It is scary, it is uncomfortable, it is stressful.. Especially since we artists are very sensitive creatures and our art is such a big part of our identity and self-worth. But everyone here is talented and amazing, and you ALL deserve to succeed! I hope you all give yourselves the chance ❤



  • @NessIllustration Thank you for starting this thread. I feel like just hearing other people talking about this stuff releases something, gives me confidence.

    Someone earlier said something about working alone that makes it hard for visual artists, it's too easy to get in this self defeating dialogue and only with ourselves. We don't even realize how irrational it is.

    Yes, we can always improve our skills, no one has reached the end of their journey, if we did, I think art would cease to be interesting and we'd move on to something else. So, is there ever any real reason why that should stop us from showing our work?

    I guess that's my question, is there ever a good reason not to send your work out or share it? I struggle with this a lot, and after reading this thread I'm kind of thinking... there probably is no real good reason. Not a single one. The main reason we come up with is that we're not good enough, but that, if you think about it is NOT a reason to not send out our work. In fact according to what you are saying, it's a reason TO send it out, so that we can get better feedback and improve more efficiently.

    It's human nature though that we just have to fight against. It's just natural to resist change, even if we think it might be good change, especially if there is any perceived risk involved. The thing is to just find whatever way we can to get past that, make our work, and put it out there.


  • Pro

    @robgale Well put, you're absolutely right! There IS no downside, except that it's really scary. It's not really even our fault, our brains are made this way. Our brains are designed to act like "Look we're alive now, that's pretty good, let's just stay here and keep doing what we're doing!" Any change, any perceived risk, it is a struggle with our own minds because our brains don't want to step out of our comfort zone. However, being aware of this and consciously ignoring it is the best way to overcome it ❤



  • I have been an absolute failure at life because I don't believe in myself. I still don't think my work is good enough to send to a publisher. I heard Lee say that if other students and the teachers don't notice your work you're probably not cut out for an art career, and I don't think any of my college professors cared for my work, and other than my final animation class I don't remember any students commenting on my work. Although come to think of it, the design instructor said I was the most improved and that I should continue with design because I would be a good designer. And the painting professor wanted me to switch majors from animation to painting. So maybe I'm not completely hopeless, idk. Maybe I was only hopeless at animation. Which is ok because studio life as my one professor described it sounded terrible. I couldn't handle sleeping under my desk.

    I'm not sure where I'm going with this. Just venting, I guess. I wish I knew how to believe in myself. If it wasn't for my husband's cheerleading and a random stranger from Facebook taking a chance on hiring me for book layout, I would probably be stocking shelves at the dollar store now. And honestly sometimes I still think maybe I should just give up. But I know I won't give up because I can't quit creating.



  • @twiggyt You can't be an absolute failure if you're here trying to learn and get better 🙂

    Learning how to believe in myself has been harder than making the art, lol. I'm still working on it 😉 I think Lee's advice mostly applies if you are in the right kind of place to show your work, and it seems like you weren't, so don't beat yourself up too much about that! Art is hard, of course, but there is a difference between something taking hard work to accomplish and something being the wrong fit. Seems like animation was just the wrong fit for you. I'm glad that you are still going with your work! Illustration is a very interesting beast. I think its really important for us artists to surround ourselves with people who know us, care for us, and push us until we learn how to push ourselves. I literally would not have a job if my friend hadn't made me go for it. And that's also why it's good to be a part of a community like this. Luckily, you've also got the bug that forces you to keep working, and honestly, I believe that is 80% the battle. Whenever I get down about my work, I think about all the successful people I admire, and when it comes down to it, they've all kept working. Even when it sucked and especially when things didn't go the way they'd have liked. If not today, or tomorrow, then eventually things turned out because they laid the groundwork by putting in the time. I dunno if that helps, but it makes me feel better when I remind myself of that.

    P.S. My two cents on studio life is that my time working in one was really great and I'll be returning there when I graduate. But then, it really comes down to company/industry culture. I feel like animation has somewhat of a reputation for really grinding and overworking people. But working as an in-house illustrator, my experience has been really great and much different than those horror stories I've heard. I pity the poor game developers and artists who are basically in overtime 24/5. I do find it strange how people relish talking about those unhealthy environments and wear them as a badge of honor. I like a balanced life, thank you.



  • @twiggyt hi Twiggy reading your comment and had a look at your work .I know my opinion does not mean much but I think your work is adorable I love it.There are other artists who are doing this sort of thing who are very popular so why not you. I subscribed to your instagram -I am also a small animal lover especially guinea pigs.good luck



  • @Teju-Abiola Thanks for the words of encouragement. You're right that if a person is still trying to improve and grow then they're not a failure. I know I'm too hard on myself, and I'm trying to change my thinking patterns.

    I never heard anything about the illustration side of animation from my professors, so it's possible that they only encountered the animation aspect and didn't know about it. I heard someone talking about their experience as an intern at Nickelodeon and how awesome it was, and I thought, "That seems really awesome and like a great environment " I wish I could remember where I heard that... Maybe it was someone Will Terry interviewed?

    @DOTTYP Thank you for the follow! I followed you, too. I saw your guinea pig painting and I was sold. I love those things--I can hear mine downstairs fussing right now.



  • @nessillustration his name is Sage Francis, amazing lyrics.



  • @twiggyt I am glad to hear you have your own piggys (bosses) I have 3 now they have such great personalities Nice to meet another piggymum


  • SVS OG

    I also have had great experiences working as an in-house illustrator. Animation has never really interested me as a career, but I have heard here and there that in some places there is that expectation of putting in crazy hours. No thank you.

    And it’s definitely true that if you’re still working on your art then you haven’t failed at it. Just keep moving forward. 😊


  • SVS OG

    Thanks for your insight and encouragement, @NessIllustration, and everyone else who shared their thoughts and perspective. I've been thinking for a while now to just get a portfolio done and see what happens and this thread has helped rejuvenate that drive!


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