How do you find success in a crowded industry like digital illustration?
Many budding illustrators throw in the towel as soon as they feel a little discomfort. They experience pressure, rejection, and incredible stress in an excruciating sequence and think, “This is not for me.”
However, before you even doubt your skills, have you ever wondered that maybe you’re just not employing the right strategies to get ahead? Perhaps you’re not maximizing your resources to gain ground? If you want to launch a successful career as a budding illustrator, here are practical tips that could help you in your creative pursuit:
Enjoy the Hustle
While being idealistic is quite admirable, don’t make the mistake of leaving your day job to pursue illustration as a full-time career. Don’t drop everything and pray that it will work out in the end. If you are not sitting on a massive inheritance and you have monthly bills to pay, it’s not worth the risk. To be successful in this industry, you have to be practical. You have to stick to your full-time job and take on illustration as a side project. You have to squeeze in some time in the evening and on weekends to practice your craft. It might be mentally and physically exhausting, but if you want it badly enough, that won’t mean a thing. You should enjoy the hustle — the early mornings, the late nights, the pile of workload. That’s only preparing you for the future and the beginning of your career as a digital artist.
Explore Your Style
The common mistake digital artists make is that they don’t have a distinct style. You can’t mimic what everyone else is doing. If you want to stand out, you have to find your signature style, just like Gustav Klimt, Pablo Picasso, or Yoko Ono. Your style must be original and compelling, but it must also be true to who you are. You can discover your style by looking at the patterns of your works, the similarity of your approach. When you find a style that satisfies you, then you can create a legitimate body of work. That is when you can finally build a professional portfolio. Refrain from incorporating practice pieces in your portfolio. While they can beef up your portfolio, they are not your best works. If you want people to see just how good you are, showcase pieces born out of long months of practice.
One of the most challenging parts of being an illustrator is unveiling your creations. It can be frightening and nerve-wracking to put your artworks out in the open, but that’s how you get noticed. You can’t just create illustrations and hope someday someone will knock on your door and offer you a big break. That’s not how it works. You have to make the first leap — and a big one at that.
Instagram and Facebook are the best social media platforms to launch your artworks. By uploading your pieces on social media, you are making them accessible to potential clients. That is also a great way to expand your network. And if you want to strengthen your online presence more, you can invest in paid promotions. Shelling out a few bucks can significantly boost your engagements, follower count, and likes. These paid ads will surely ramp up your visibility, which is what you need as a blossoming illustrator.
Also, if you’re transitioning into a creative hustle, you have to know the power of Behance. Behance operates as an online portfolio for artists. It’s a platform where you can showcase your works and be discovered by fellow artists and potential clients. That’s why businesses camp out on Behance because creative portfolios are readily available for their review. So, if you want to gain more exposure in the field you’re trying to penetrate, this is the platform you should be in.
Aside from that, you can also make use of modern advances such as augmented reality technology (AR) to promote your works. Some apps allow you to transform your digital artworks into 3D form. That makes your creations more interactive and engaging to people. So, if you want to make your art stand out from the rest, maximizing AR technology will do the trick.
Build a List of Prospects
If you’re starting, you don’t rely on luck to get ahead. As a blossoming illustrator, you have to put in the work. You have to be aggressive. Build a list of people you can send your portfolio to — magazine editors, art directors, designers, experienced illustrators, website owners, entrepreneurs. You have to knock on the door of people who might be interested in your works. The best way to get in contact with them is through email.
You can also get in touch with them through LinkedIn, which is a professional online database. That isn’t just to show how good you are; this is to show you are passionate about what you’re doing. However, this is the part where you encounter multiple rejections. Often, this is what breaks digital artists. But keep in mind, it’s part of the process. You don’t get to where you want to be without a couple of rejections here and there. Use those disappointments to improve your craft and work harder.
Remember, don’t let the discomfort keep you from what you want in life. To find success in this crowded industry, you must not let anything get in the way, not even a chance encounter with failure.