Excited, but so uncertain how to move forward



  • I am a busy mom to 5 boys and my time feels so limited. I studied children’s book illustration when I was in school, but started a family fairly young and never finished that schooling. The 3 point perspective pod casts and SVS learn classes have been a life saver to this artist, who feels like I have forgotten and lost so much over time. With each class I am learning and applying so much of what all the instructors have taught and it is bringing me hope that a career in illustration might still be possible. So, I guess what I am trying to say first and foremost is: THANKYOU, for teaching such great classes and providing this opportunity to those of us who can’t finish school right now.
    2nd- I wanted to ask, thoughts on getting over that fear of putting your work out there. What helps you feel like “I can do this,” or “ my work is good enough?”
    3rd- my time is so limited, and I use every possible, available moment to work on my illustration and building up my portfolio, Or brushing up on skills, and learning new ones, but how do I truly balance what’s most important in my illustration career and make sure that my kiddos needs are met?
    Just seeking some advice, thanks!


  • SVS OG

    @Amber-Ross-Webb no real success advice, but I’m in the fox hole with you! I have 4 and finally got more consistent this year when my youngest went to kindergarten.

    Just put yourself out there. You can do baby steps. Prints and whatnot. Make art you want to see in your world. Make art for what you want to say. All those are winners even if they don’t get bought somewhere. I have a hard time focusing on skills because there are so many little things I want to paint. I should probably do more learning too.

    Biggest fear- to get a job or commitment that I can’t fulfill because of my schedule. So I’m going super slow. Occasional pop-up sells. Small commitments to a store. And doing art that I want to do!



  • @Whitney-Simms thank you so much! That is great advice! It is so nice to meet someone who understands!
    My 2 youngest are 3 and 2 so I suppose I have a few years before they go to school, but It is nice to hear that baby steps are ok for now as well.
    Thanks again for your kind comments. Good luck in your ventures as well!!


  • SVS OG

    @Amber-Ross-Webb One more thing that took a long time for me to get over. I was pretty resentful when my youngest was about 3 or 4. Like i had lost my skills and the "what-if's" of who I could've been. (I am lucky enough to stay home with my kiddos, but you know that is not easy or filled with free time). I am only a year or so younger than Jake Parker. What could I have done with my art if I had 15 years to work on my art all day. Where would I be? Those thoughts are nasty if you let them linger too long! I love my kids and don't regret any of my choices, but as it was time for me to pick up my brush again I was very disappointed and discouraged. Then one day I visited my brothers house. He had lived away for a long time. I saw tons of my artwork in his house. Work I had forgotten I had done and was still proud of. I hadn't taken "time off" at all. As I looked back I was always creating, for christmas presents, baby shower gifts, lots of things. That part of me was there and had never really gone away. I was able to let go of some of the crappy feelings I was having. I'm sure that part of you has always been there too.

    Your babies are small ( and i bet the older ones are making you a taxi cab!) There is luxury is giving yourself time. Before your little one gets in school you can still be productive.
    1- start sharing!!!!! It will do more for you than you realize. Let people watch you grow as an artist. Even the learning stuff. Build your following and audience. More people will be watching than you realize. Don't worry about how good it is, you will get better the more you invest in it anyways. People love to what growth
    2- you probably won't be able to do major book projects without getting childcare, which relieves some pressure to do it now! So GROW! LEARN! Find your style and voice. What you like to paint.
    3- and it's totally okay to make time for your art. I know it makes me a much better mom. If I haven't created in a week it isn't pretty. I can't do it everyday, and that's okay too.

    Best of luck! Can't wait to see your journey. Look up Emily Jeffords, She sounds like a yoga instructor (blah) but she is really great at lifting up moms who are creatives.

    Oh- and don't compare your beginning to someone else's middle. I have no idea who said that. Don't know if it was on SVS or not. But INSANELY helpful for me!


  • SVS OG

    @Whitney-Simms I love this advice!


  • SVS Team SVS OG

    @Whitney-Simms I said that 🙂 LOL not really but its true. I find routine works best for me to find the time to work on my art. I have four kids, all getting older now but one with special needs. So he takes a lot of my time. But I set a pretty tight schedule and stick with it. Everyday is a little different but i try to get at least an hour or two to work on art. Some days there is no time and others there are more.

    With little kids its going to be harder to get some free time, but power naps during the day will give you that extra alone time at night.



  • @Whitney-Simms you have helped me more than you could ever know!
    I have definitely had my moments of resentment, and like you say I also recognize the gifts that my husband and children are in my life and would not change a thing.
    I do love your enthusiasm and advice! I would really love to see some of your work too! I am still learning how all of this technology and social media stuff works, so this really is the first time I have been able to talk to another mom in the same boat and so forth, that I am in.
    I hope Jake Parker, Will Terry, Lee White, and the entire SVS family realize what a difference they are making for all of us hopefuls out there. This forum is now on my list with the SVS classes and podcasts for having really giving me a shot in the arm and realizing the possibilities.
    Do you have a current portfolio out there? And if so, how did you decide what to put in it?



  • @Chip-Valecek you are right! Routine is a huge part of being able to accomplish art in this time of life.
    My second oldest is autistic and, like you say, every day is different.
    Thanks for your advice as well. It’s nice to know that we all have art in common and that we are not alone in this journey as parents and artists.😊


  • SVS Team SVS OG

    @Amber-Ross-Webb my son with special needs is completely blind from a genetic disease, went blind around 6 months. Then at 2 he was diagnosed with Autism. Then around 8 or so started with epilepsy. So its been a struggle with him his whole life as well as a struggle as parents to deal with it all and be an advocate for him with school. But I have always turned to art to release and just let go of myself. I came across Will one night on youtube which lead me to SVS. I been a member of SVS for 5 years or so. Over the course of those 5 years I meet so many great people that have become friends on the forums. Then there are others that come and go and then come back again and its always nice to see familiar faces. I think being part of this community is also a big part of growing as an artist.


  • SVS OG

    @Amber-Ross-Webb yeah, the svs program is awesome! So much more information about the “how to” than I learned in school for sure.

    I’m on Instagram and Facebook. I also have a website. It’s all under WhitneySimmsStudio. One form or another. Well, Facebook is just my name. Seriously, the more you share your work, the more people invest in you as an artist. When I finally went to sell my notecards from inktober, I sold so much more than I ever hoped it. Then this spring I sold my newer collections of cards and people like my mom’s old college roommate, a neighbor from childhood, my cousin’s wife’s mother all came out and placed orders. Crazy right!
    Look up Sarah Jane Wright. She started out just selling prints on Etsy. You can still work on story telling while just doing single images or a triptic. You can build your portfolio while selling prints at the same time.
    That being said, it’s totally fine just to work on your craft for as long as you need. And yes, let us know where we can follow your work as well!



  • @Chip-Valecek wow! I’m sure your son is an amazing young man. It is hard to watch them go through so much. I am so glad that you have found such a great community through your art and this forum. It is wonderful that Will and Jake have built this in such a way that it gives us all hope and new friends too. I wish you the best! Thank goodness for the blessing to have a creative outlet in life. And an opportunity to share it!!😊😊😊



  • @Whitney-Simms thank you so much, I will go check it out! I feel so inspired by these teachers and everyone on here! Thanks for reaching out and sharing!!😊



  • @Amber-Ross-Webb - I'm so glad you were so open and honest with this post. The post and responses to follow were just what I needed to hear this week. I'm at home with a 1.5 year old and also trying to strike that balance between being a Mom and someone who is my own entity. Thanks to you, @Whitney-Simms and @Chip-Valecek for your candor on this topic.


  • Moderator

    @Amber-Ross-Webb I really want to comment on the fear of putting your work out there, because I struggled with that too (and sometimes still do). There is not a single piece of work that I have created or posted that I am completely pleased with. I would never put a single one of them in a portfolio, nor am I looking to have them seen by a publisher at the moment. Sometime I look at them and cringe, and regularly I delete older posts that do not reflect my progress. I only use Instagram at the moment.

    I worried about all the same things you do, but I felt that I needed to post and share my work as a part of taking the plunge and committing to becoming a professional illustrator. I can tell you with confidence, that I would not be progressing as fast as I am nor working as hard as I am if I had not done it. It changed everything for me. It was and is very hard on my ego because I worked as a graphic designer for many years and was good at what I did. Now I feel like I am starting over and I am posting work that is just not up to my standards. But I’m getting over it. I no longer worry who sees it or doesn’t. When I am ready to create a portfolio and send my work to agents and publishers, I will hopefully be content with the level of work I’m sharing and be more careful about what I include. Until then, it is all about learning, and sharing your work and being part of a community of artists has been so important. When I post new work, I am sure no one will remember or care about the level of my old work. Hope this helps!


  • SVS OG

    @Amber-Ross-Webb oh I relate!! I’m a mom of five too. Mine are 13, 11, 10, 7 and 6. It makes for a crazy life, but it’s good. I get inspired by my kids all the time, but I also have very limited time. @Misty-McKeithen is in the same boat too. I just decided a few years ago to approach it like my husband tells people learning guitar to do it. “Five minutes a day” that’s what he always tells people. Even if that’s all you can commit to, you might do more than that on occasion, but you will improve over time. I decided that if that was all I could do, I would do it. And, I decided I was going to be ok making terrible art too. I would scribble in my sketchbook at the end of the night if that’s all the time I had. I also gave up on trying to make the perfect creative space and only working on my things when I knew I had hours and hours. It just wasn’t practical for me to try to take that much time and space. But, I take what I have. And, I have noticed a lot of improvement in my work over the past few years, so I’m keeping at it. It’s the slow plan for sure, but it’s worth it. ☺


Log in to reply