*Original excerpt from 2001 Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market.
Here’s some advice from Theresa Smythe, an illustrator who followed her dreams – and it paid off!
Believe in yourself. Sounds pretty simple, but it isn’t always. Before you get a few assignments under your belt, it can get pretty lonely and frustrating. It’s easy to fall prey to your inner critic. Remember, all of us have one, but there is also a “true believer” within that tells you your art is the greatest thing on the entire planet and you’re gonna make it! Listen!
Find your medium! Exploring as many mediums as I could was so important to landing my first jobs. I took courses in different art techniques. I would even suggest a course in “creativity.” This “art therapy” taught me to listen to my inner voice and allowed me the freedom to play and break the rules and find my own style.
Fine tune your mailings. When you’re first starting out, you want to cast a big net into the ocean to see how many fish you can catch. As time goes by, you develop yourself more and you see who is responding. Then it’s time to fine tune. My mailing list is down from 500 to about 125 VIPs I target aggressively, with mailings every month or so.
Be persistent. Keep chipping away at these potential clients and don’t take “no” for an answer. There is a certain element of persistence that is expected in this industry. Sending repeated mailings and samples shows you are serious and committed. Keep knocking on doors and they will eventually answer!
Relax and renew! Illustration is a career that forces you to spend a lot of your time alone and indoors. It’s important to get out and smell the roses once in a while. Reward yourself with a message or a night out and when time allows, take a trip and leave it all behind.