I’m sure this post on how to make it as an artist by animator Geneva Hodgson (and reblogged by Kate Beaton, hence my embarrassing ID mixup) doesn’t need any promotion from me, but here it is anyway. IT’s full of solid observations and advice, and you should READ THE WHOLE THING, but she mentions one thing that I don’t think most career advice articles cover enough:
– RESEARCH. Research what people are doing now. Find out what you might be interested in. Write it all out. Here is a sampling of art-related careers that I know, personally, in real life, people doing and making good livings off of it:
Visual development artists/concept artists (note: this is a really popular field to pursue among young artists and not everyone can make it— but the skills you’d hone prepping to be one would make you a KILLER artist)
Graphic design, especially web-related
User interface design/User experience design
Video editing software like AfterEffects, often animating in it
Something I recommend doing is looking for what people are looking for. Conduct a mock job hunt and look at the skills people are looking for. Make yourself an ace and teach yourself Adobe CreativeSuite, or any other program you’re interested in using for your career. Buy them if you can, but if you’re a poor teenager stuck in the boondocks like I was, pirate them and pay for them after you know how to use them to make money. I can’t tell you how many doors I opened by downloading Photoshop in 8th grade. You can teach yourself virtually any program or skill with all the resources available online.
This is all so true. Comics are a great way to get your name and style out there, but solid skills in key software programs to back up art chops are usually a prereq for making money at art.
I don’t necessarily agree with Beaton that going to school for comics is not necessary. CCS, SAW, SCAD and SVA are all giving a lot of students valuable networking and instruction. However I DO predict that Beaton’s post will probably become a must read at most of those schools.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.