Long time no chat. Sorry for the sporadic nature of my participation here. I've been having some serious conversations with myself lately--caught up in my own head. I was hoping that you could offer some help/advice/reassurance. Get ready for a stream of consciousness over-share.
I'm a graphic/web/product designer. I went to college for graphic design and costume design (because I was too scared to choose illustration and too stubborn to let go of my love of theater and storytelling) and have been unenthusiastically designing websites/magazines/graphics since I graduated in 2010. It sucks, guys. I'm now the Art Director for a retirement investing startup and while we are about to launch a pretty cool product, I COULD NOT CARE LESS ABOUT THIS INDUSTRY. I became a designer so that I would never have to look at numbers or talk about investments. How did I end up here?! HOW?
Sunday was my 29th birthday. I'm almost 30. It's time to stop pretending that "the next design job" will be better. I've been drawing since I could hold a pencil. As a kindergartener, I claimed that I wanted to be a "Disney Cartoonist." As an almost-30-year-old, I realized that my 5 year old self was right... still is right... and my avoidance of the topic is based on fear and the imposter syndrome. Every time I think I'm going to start building a portfolio to "do something with illustration or animation," I'm stifled by thoughts like "Well I'm starting this too late." or "You should pick which kind of illustration you want to do before you start." or "What if you get there and you don't like it?" or "GOD I'M EXHAUSTED, I can't draw tonight. It's pointless anyway." or "This field is too broad and too oversaturated and you are a late-bloomer in an already difficult industry." Well those thoughts are awful. And you know what? The pain of staying stuck where I currently am has become worse than the perceived pain of maybe-possibly failing at something that I have 1000% more passion for. Why the hell shouldn't I at least try? Worst case scenario, Pixar never hires me and I continue getting paid a lot of money for work that I don't really care about. I AM CURRENTLY LIVING MY WORST CASE SCENARIO.
So, let's go. Though I don't know specifically which job-title is best suited for me, I know that I am drawn to Pixar and Disney because of the work they produce and the feeling you get when you finish one of their movies: that feeling of wanting to go out and be better, do better, save someone, help the world. I also know that I am drawn to characters/story creation. Great. So character artist or story artist. I have 2 potential employers and 2 potential titles. BIG goals. Scary. But scary can be good and specificity is better than meandering waffly-ness.
My question: How... HOW... does one break into this industry with 10 years of graphic design and 0 years of professional illustration/character/story art on her resume? It won't be easy, but I'm willing to put in the work. That said, I'm not sure of exactly what "the work" entails. I was wondering if any of you had any ideas about some steps I might take.
Things I've done/am doing:
Despite my job as a designer, my entire professional Facebook as well as my Instagram and a large portion of my website/portfolio is devoted to illustration.
I'm currently working through a "draw 100 somethings" project where I'm drawing characters requested by various friends and family. (See @moniquecucchi on Insta for progress there).
After the 100 (or when I decide I've had enough), I'm going to start creating some model sheets to show an ability to draw a character in the round as well as the ability to show a range of emotion.
I think I have a pretty clear idea of things I can continue to add to my portfolio to show expertise in this(these) areas but what does one do when the portfolio is ready? When there is enough to show, how do I get in the front door? Will they take one look at my resume and say "Is she applying to the right company?" It's like the whole "how do you build credit if you've never had a credit card and no one will approve you for one?" problem. I have a feeling that saying to them, "Hey, trust me. I really want to do this and I promise I'll do good work." probably won't do the trick.
Anyone have any experience with this?
If you made it this far, thanks! Are you crazy? Am I crazy? Perhaps we all are..