I'm a part of the Zero2Illo 12 Week Challenge. It's a challenge to define your career in 12 weeks, by the end of which, you'll be well on the way to achieving your dreams. This week's assignment is to consider what it is I want to do, who I want to illustrate for and a few other questions.
What I want to do: freelance fantasy illustration.
Who I want to work for?
Paizo would be sweet, along with White Wolf, Wizards of the Coast and most recently- movie studios. Yep, that's a new goal from yesterday. I saw How to Train your Dragon and after seeing the end credits filled with concept illustrations, I realised... Yes. THAT is what would make me pretty much the happiest person in the world. I could tell because I was proud for the concept artists whose work was on screen! To watch a movie in the movie theater and see *my* work on screen, even if it's on the end credits or only a concept art book for the movie or just to see my name scrolling by in the credits under "Concept Artist"... that's the dream for me! First dreams first though. I'd love to get fantasy work in just about any genre- books, magazines, covers, games... You name it. Let's start there.
Here were the other questions that were suggested to mull over:
- Is your idea commercially viable?
I think so. I know of plenty of people in the fantasy illustration field. (Also I am becoming increasingly familiar with who works behind the scenes in the movie realm!)
- What are the target markets (publications, manufacturers, brands and companies) currently commissioning this kind of illustration?
I mentioned several already, but first I'd target book and magazine cover illustration jobs and RPG illustration jobs, as they'd most encompass what I want to do.
- Who are the big players (illustrators) in this market?
Oh man, where to start? Massive Black, Bobby Chiu, Dave Raposa, Todd Lockwood, Jason Seiler, Boris Vallejo, Julie Bell... Those are just at the top of my head. I could never name everyone!
- Why are they successful in this area? Look at their website and other online profiles, search for interviews with them online…How do they promote themselves? If you can break down what makes them successful (other than that they are very talented), you can apply this model to your own business.
This is where it gets tricky. I've been following many of the artists listed above for a while now, sometimes years, and they've even explained in detail how they got where they are. As far as I can understand it, you just have to DO IT. Push yourself out there in every capacity possible and wave your arms long enough until you get noticed. I've gotten professional critique and the bad part about where I am in the game is that everyone says, "You're *allllllmost* there!". But I feel like I've been "almost there" for 2 years now! The only thing stopping me *IS* my talent and skill level. I'm doing everything else that I can, but unless I can improve, I'm not going to get the work that I'd like. It's a little frustrating to know that the only one stopping you from getting where you want is yourself. I'm also notoriously impatient and I can't get to where I want to be fast enough. These past 6 months "on the job" while freelancing have taught me a lot about patience, that's for sure.
Looks like I just have to remember what Henry Ford said:
‘You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.‘