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Drawing Upon Success
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Drawing Upon Success

For the past few months I've been working on 2 small projects for a client. As a Freelance Artist finding steady work can be stressful, especially when life hits you with the unexpected such as, the car breaks down or you get sick. As I have been freelancing for the past 4 years now, I have learned the hard way that you must take care of you.

This lesson was driven hard into my brain while I was working as a Background Actor on set late one night in Hollywood. I met a gentleman slightly older than me who started a conversation with me. He asked what did I do for a living, what brought me to California, etc. I told him that I came here to become an Artist. He takes a look at my business card, and I guess he could tell right away that I had something. He spoke to me for about 2 hours explaining the value of entrepreneurship. It was a life changing experience! He changed the way I think from being an employee to becoming an employer. He asked for my card to keep in touch, and I was so astounded by the conversation that I forgot to ask for his contact information. After getting off work at 5:00am, I was sure he would contact me, all the while my mind set was transforming. The next day I thought for sure I would get an email from him, and I wanted to thank him dearly for teaching me this lesson, because he really did not have to do that for me. Yet thanks to him, here I am embarking upon a new journey in my career. Of course, there may be a few detours here and there, but the destination I have chosen is still set.

Now I have been doing concept drawings for a client and loving it! Once I'm done with the drawings I have to create the digital version of them in Illustrator. You know that feeling when you don't think you can do something, but then you sit down, just get to it, and it comes to life? Ah, that's the experience I've been enjoying now! I got the drawings done in my sketch book for pre-production, and then I was able to find a quick solution to getting the drawings into Illustrator without much hassle. After 2 days of hard work, I got his animation all roughed out in After Effects. Now after many meetings, critiquing, and post-production work we are nearly finished. The animation and its style is simple. It just makes me think to myself, "why haven't I sat down to bring my own ideas to life?" Well, I now know the answer to that, and I do have to fix my fear. I can't wait to get this animation done, so that I can see how it's received.

As I have been working at various places big and small, I have seen many things that inspire me to just create my own experience from scratch. Now I am gradually working towards that one step at a time.

*As a side note to aspiring artists here are a few tips I've learned the hard way:

Sure you go to college and major in whatever creative field you believe best suits you. In my case that started with Graphic Design and I went on to study Animation for my Master of Fine Art degree. Now here's the hard reality of it all. My professors and employers gave us all the rude awakening that you really don't need a college degree to get the job. As long as you have the skills to do the the job that's all that counts!

Your portfolio or demo reel should really cater to the style of the employer you're trying to get to hire you. As an Animator if you want to work at Disney, than your reel should have fluid, realistic animation. If you want to be a 3D Texture Artist then in general you should show a model with accurate UVs, and texture maps that you've colored or created from scratch. If you have your own personal style that's great! Include a little of it too. Always check with your college and the guidelines from the employer so that you know what to present. Your college will also train you in how to present yourself with your demo reel or portfolio.

In case you're struggling here, as I am too, if you learned how to do something from a tutorial then instead of copying it really be experimental with it. Create something that's not identical to that tutorial, vary the settings, strive to put your style and consideration into it. The company really wants to see how you think and whether you're aware of all that's going on in the scene.

This is an important thing to know. When you start work they often want you to be fast. Some employers are relaxed on this with a reasonable amount of pressure to get it done. Others however, have insane expectations. One of my Supervisors told me that big companies want you to do one thing and be really good at it. At small companies you have to be good at a variety of things.

Finally, this industry is freelance. I strongly suggest taking some business courses as a minor or even a second major. Better yet, take a second major in a second field you think you will enjoy. With the recent economic downturn many of us artists found ourselves let out in the cold, so it's good to be prepared for such times. A second major, minor, or other career qualifications really do come in handy, and you never know. Someday you may just want to consider doing business for yourself.


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