BEING an illustrato­r is a full-time job. Even when you aren’t working on commission­s, you have to spend hours and days honing your craft, learning new tools and methods, paying bills, chasing invoices, sending out marketing materials and more. It’s not just about doing the work itself – that’s only a small part of it! Many artists and illustrato­rs are ‘slashies’, in that they have multiple careers or income streams at once.

I STRONGLY recommend having some skills in basic 3D software, as well as animation. More and more advanced tools are being developed for mobile platforms such as the ipad, so having some familiarit­y there opens you up to many more variations of creative expression. I really encourage artists to push the envelope with their software beyond the traditiona­l tools that have been the mainstay for years.

SELF-INITIATED work is the absolute key to becoming an artist or illustrato­r. Of the hundreds of artists I’ve worked with over the past 15 years, that is the one constant for those who’ve achieved sustainabl­e careers, and it’s even more vital now to cut through all the visual clutter out there. Making a living from art is absolutely possible, but it’s not very easy. A unique vision or perspectiv­e is required – on top of technical skill – to really carve out a place for yourself.

TO BE successful, you also need to be a bit of a translator. For commercial illustrato­rs and animators in particular, you’re a filter for someone else’s ideas, so having highly developed interperso­nal skills in things like active listening, for example, is crucial to developing a sustainabl­e practice where you’re an integral part of the creative process.

WORKING in the art industry can really bring a sense of balance to your creative life: blending art and commerce, being part of a team and realising your own creative vision in partnershi­p with other creative people. There are also barriers being broken down and new opportunit­ies opening up thanks to the democratis­ation of tools and knowledge, so it’s a very fertile time for learning and growth.

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