- People will think you're lazy, that you don't work, that you must be rich, that you must be completely poor and pathetic, that you're lucky to be doing what you love, that you must just not be able to find a 'real job'. People won't know what illustration is, or that it's even a 'thing' that you can be paid for. Some will even be offended that you 'do art' for a living, or be disgruntled at the fact that your way of earning money is different from theirs and doesn't require much commuting. Some people will think that you're a fine artist, or a graphic designer. Some people will ask you to do what equates to hours or days of work for free, and then get annoyed at you when you won't. Some people will think you spend all day sitting around drinking tea, baking, reading, doodling, and pratting about on Twitter. Sometimes you do spend all day doing those things, but sometimes you work 8am-11pm seven days running and barely stop to eat or see anyone. Some people will just unmovingly believe what they want to, and there's no point trying to convince them otherwise.
Tips & Links / Things I think every Illustration graduate should do:
- Join Twitter. I can't stress enough how useful and fun Twitter has been for me over the last couple of years. I've found out about work, potential clients, competitions and events through it, and have discovered several hundred amazing friendly illustrators and other creatives to talk to. Say hello! @BryonyCrane
- Try to join some kind of local illustrators group, ask around on Twitter if you're not sure what's available. Go to events and suck up inspiration and knowledge like a big fat sponge.
- Consider joining The AOI for at least one year, preferably with your student discount, to see whether it's going to be useful to you personally and to collect information about the industry, pricing etc.
- Watch this speech by Neil Gaiman - it is perfect and inspirational.
- Utilise online organisation tools like TeuxDeux, Evernote etc. I love a good stash of trailing paper to-do lists, but sometimes it's nice to be able to check them on the go, and to be able to sync them between devices.
- Join online portfolio/networking/opportunities sites. My favourites are Behance, Ideas Tap, Creative Boom. If you join loads of them at once it can be quite intimidating and you will spend all of your time trying to update them. Try to join one or two at a time, then once you've got the hang of them, add more.
And to end on a happy note in case I've sounded like a negative nelly....
The Best Things About Being an Illustrator:
- Doing what you love to do, and getting paid for it!
- The freedom of being your own boss. Sometimes you work really, really hard, and because of that you can allow yourself days off, breaks to meet friends or to go out to gather inspiration.
- Not being able to draw a character with an extreme expression or pose, without inadvertently mimicking it yourself (sometimes in public) and looking quite, quite mad.
- Often having to do the above on purpose into a mirror or camera for reference, and that still counting as legitimate work.
- The thought that one day a book I have drawn and written could be on the bookshelves of millions (ahem) of little children all over the world!
- Having a great work/life balance, even if it does mean living off a diet mainly consisting of own-brand cereal and poached eggs. (Not together...)
- Being able to work whilst bouncing on an exercise ball, singing loudly and in various states of untidyness/unacceptable dress/mad birdnest hair.
I think that's quite enough rambling for one post... I hope I haven't bored you to tears. Are you about to graduate, or have been working freelance for a year or two as well? Let me know your thoughts/questions etc in the comments below!