Approaching cliff

I have been doing a lot of hard thinking recently about what on earth is going to happen to me when I finish this degree. I’m under no illusions about the world of illustration…it’s tough. There are some terrifying stats around with regard to Art graduates. Only 5% ever end up working in the creative industries and of those, most take at least five years to get established. It doesn’t seem to have that much to do with how good you are either but much more about hard work, business acumen, and who you know. As you might have gathered I was feeling pretty despondent.

I don’t think it’s much helped by the countless visiting illustrators we’ve had at college or illustrator websites I’ve read, where people have got where they are through sheer luck. Their mum was a children’s book writer or they got chatting to someone over a photocopier. Then I stumbled across these two websites, and together with a few other things, I’m feeling a lot more positive. The first is by Ben O’Brien who acknowledges that all illustrators are liars and actually that chat over the photocopier was hard won (I can’t comment on the “my mum is a children’s book writer” one!). I think his advice to go and do something else while working away at getting established is advice I’m going to take to heart.

The second website is by Keri Smith. It’s the best advice I’ve ever read on promoting yourself as an illustrator…so grounded, sensible and achievable. For me, the advice that particularly rang true was about taking it slowly and starting with short-term achievable goals. I also loved what she said about entering competitions. I shall feel free from now on to never enter another competition again – what a relief!

So, I’m approaching my degree show with a lighter step and although I still feel like I’m about to hurl myself off a metaphorical cliff, I think I can do it with a smile.

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