Every now and then I get a student asking me for advice, so I thought instead of those answers never seeing the light of day that I’d share them on here. These questions were sent to me by Rob Hodgson who’s currently an illustration student in the UK. He was writing a report and was curious about the following things:
1) What do you think about the whole blog exposure for artists that has happened the past couple years? Do you think there are pros and cons?
I think this trend has been happening a lot longer than the last few years. When I started getting into blogs like K10K and Design is Kinky about 10 years ago they were doing the same thing. I think the difference nowadays is that it’s a lot easier for anyone to start a blog these days, the tools are out there and easy enough for anyone to understand.
Overall I think it’s a good thing for artists, though I think a lot of people/blogs don’t put any thought or reason to why they’re putting these works on their site. In that case I feel like the artists work doesn’t mean as much, it’s just a pretty image that’s quite disposable and will be gone as soon as something else comes along.
2) I have this super romantic view of living somewhere and being able to work on art stuff in a real community. I’ve read a few posts where you’ve mentioned bridging the gap between internet and real life. What are your thoughts on this, do you have anything lined up?
I think that idea is romantic, but not impossible. It takes a lot of hard work and determination, and well, talent, to really make it work. I’ve personally found a lot of success through reaching out to people and creating friendships. A lot of emphasis these days is put on social networking, which to me is just as bad as getting spam mail. There’s nothing about social networking to me that feels genuine, and that’s a big loss to me.
3) What do you think about the opportunity for illustrators and designers right now? The internet has opened up a lot of new avenues, but are you seeing any new areas for artwork to be commissioned?
A lot of people I know do a ton of personal work and put it out there regularly, which I think is why they’re so successful. These people make a ton of work and thus are now featured in every major magazine out there right now. In short, you need to make your own opportunities and work your ass off or you’re never going to get anywhere.
4) What do you think about illustrators’ websites? Do you think they should get to the point and have a ton of images? Is less more? What about personal stuff like talking about what music they’re listening to, do you think it gets in the way for clients or does is it create a bond with their audience?
I think having large images is a must, as well as clear descriptions of the work. It also bugs me when artists don’t fill out their bio section well. If you have an understanding of the artist you just might understand the art even more.
If you want to create some kind of bond with a potential viewer I’d suggest creating a blog that’s separate from your portfolio. I think it’s an easy way for potential viewers/clients to get a sense of you and your work.
5) Any advice you’ve got for a student graduating this summer??
Work your ass off and never give up on your goals. It’s never going to be easy, no matter how successful you become, so don’t fool yourself that it’s going to be any different. This applies to art and any other career you may choose.