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:

Character design
Prop design
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
Vector illustration
Flash animation
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.


  1. Not only is college not necessary for comics, it’s one of the worst things you could possibly do if you want to do comics. Comic art is one of the lowest paying art jobs, and tuition nowadays is so high that the level of debt you will accrue by going to college will keep you from ever being able to afford doing comics as a fulltime job unless you get a big gig right off the bat (and maybe not even then). Evens the person who wrote the advice Kate reblogged admitted: “If you want to do comics specifically… I’m afraid I am not the person exactly to ask, because that isn’t how I make my bread and butter.”

    If you want to get into comics, you can learn all the same things cheaper and faster by seeking out the right books and even tutorial videos, if you have the determination and focus to learn rather than waiting for someone to teach you. A degree in comics is ultimately a $50k+ piece of scrap paper; nobody in the comics industry cares whether you have that piece of paper, they’re only interested in the strength of your portfolio or your existing published work. Networking and instruction is worthless if your loan payments are so high that you can’t afford to work in comics.

  2. Great advice! Wish I read it sooner though. I’m one of those trying to break in to comics and unfortunately made the decision to go to art school. Thankfully, I came to my senses and got out before I accrued too much debt. But I did learn that the only thing that’s really holding me back is me.

  3. Nobody knows what’s best for everybody else.

    Advice is good, but I don’t think it’s ever helpful to assume that you have the answer. School is right for some people and not for others. I am really glad I went to CCS, but I’d never tell everyone that they have to go there to have a career in comics.

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