Drawing everyday: Pick up a pencil. Find some paper. Put marks on it. Practice. As artists, it's our life blood. It's how we get better at what we do. It's what we have to do. Here's why; when opportunity knocks, you will be ready! Don't wait until you see a great opening somewhere, and then lament that you don't possess the skills and ability to take advantage of it. So often, that is exactly what we do.
Our ability to draw comes from the heart. Determination comes from the mind. You will need both to succeed, which leads us to our next point.
Planning: What are your goals for this year? What do you want to accomplish? This is best decided by present skill level. Learn to walk before you run, or you'll spend a lot of time picking yourself up off the grass.
If you are beginning your artistic journey and want to become serious at the profession, there is much for you to do. Make weak points strong. Make strong points stronger. Continue with the basics until you have a thorough understanding of what you are doing. Anatomy, perspective, composition, tone, line, etc., etc., etc. Explore your chosen medium. This is done by actual use, as well as looking at artists who inspire you using the same medium. Learn by example and application. Don't have a style yet? Keep practicing. This will develop over time.
If you have a recognizable style and a few years under your belt and want to progress to the next level, your goal will be to connect; with other artists, publishers, editors, and art directors who are working in the industry you want to illustrate in. Find out where these people are. Conventions are a great way to get your portfolio in front of them. Never been to a con? Find a small one in your region, and attend. Listen to what they have to say, and don't take it personally. Make changes, then resubmit. Be inquisitive. Always be polite, friendly, attentive, and act professional. While your at it, look professional.
Many publishes allow submissions over the internet. Send only your best. Five killer images is better than ten mediocre images. Now, time to learn the most unartistic activity of all: business. Art is a business. The more you know, the more you will protect your carrier. Get the lead out, as well as your work!
As a seasoned professional, it's time to reinforce the techniques and vision that has brought you to where you are; being paid for what you love to do! Strengthen the areas that you excel in! Work on dynamics, technique, and composition. If you have some downtime, try something new. A different subject. Maybe a different medium or technique. It's hard to find time for yourself when deadlines are approaching and the bills must be paid, but this will help to keep things fresh. It may lead to something that you really enjoy experimenting with or to another genre entirely. If interested, move into other areas of the business. Why not covers? Or games? Or textiles?
Attitude: Sorry, but this has to be said. Nobody loves a Prima Donna. Or a Wall Flower. Or a Know-it-all. Or an I'm So Misunderstood. Or a Mr./Mrs. Angsty. Or an Ass. You are in the business to sell your art, and many times, being pleasant and congenial will help do that. Unless you are the next greatest thing since sliced bread. Then, they may use your work, but they sure won't like you. When all is said and done, selling art is a "people business." A combination of the right attitude and proper talent will not only get you in the door, but keep you in the building. Learn to get along with others, play nice, and once and a while, compromise. Think of it like this: Art Directors and Editors talk to each other about all kinds of things. Sometimes, they even talk about artists. It's natural, and one of the first questions to be asked is, "What are they like to work with?" and "Does this artist meet deadlines?" Remember, a good reputation will always precede you just as readily as a bad one. Keep it simple. Keep it friendly. Keep it straight forward. It's a job, and you will be evaluated every time you sign your work and hand it in.
Achieving goals are the result of activity. One can't wait for the muse to strike, but it must be roused from slumber and put to work. Knowledge is your friend. Use it to your advantage. This is the time to advance, solidify, connect, explore, compose, and excel! Hard work is rewarded at the completion of your next piece, which is just practice for the piece after that!
Mayan predictions aside, this should be a very good year! Live, create, and have fun! Now back to the drawing board.
Traditional Black Ink Group
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The images in this DeviantART gallery are © by Bob Giadrosich/Sharayah Press and Red Dragonfly Illustration, respectively. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited, and may not be featured outside of DeviantART without written permission from the artist.