Some of you have asked me via email for advice to become an illustrator, and I guess you mean by that being a professional illustrator who makes a living from that.
If that’s not the case and you just want to be an illustrator in your spare time because you just enjoy drawing and don’t expect making any money, the answer is pretty easy: keep doing illustrations, improve your drawing skills, explore your graphic style, work on personal projects that you love, enjoy the creative process and… that’s it! 🙂
But as I said, I’m guessing that most of you asked me to write about it because you’d like to end up making a living from that in the future.
In that case, the topic can be a bit difficult to discuss as you may need a different answer depending on your current situation.
So I’ll try to share my point of view from my experience so far in the following weeks… I also must add that I’m still learning from my own professional journey (and I guess I’ll never stop learning!) but I hope you get something positive from it 🙂
Today, I’ll just start by talking about some strengths that I really think potential illustrators, or even any creative freelance, should constantly develop and make them part of their lifestyle and personality. Because this is not only about drawing or designing…
I know it sounds like a cliche, but in order to become a professional illustrator you’ll have to be really passionate about it. This career takes really hard work and you must accept that hard times will be part of the journey. For that reason, being passionate or even obsessed about it will help a lot to push yourself during difficult times, have a good attitude and take actions wisely.
If you are expecting to get attention in this crowded industry often enough to financially survive as an professional illustrator, you must be consistent. It can take a long time to start getting the attention you expect, and it will depend on many factors, such as what you are working on or how you are sharing it with the world. So you must understand that consistency is key. This is like a long-distance race. Good results take time, but you’ll only get them if you are consistent.
This leads us to the ability to be patient. If you’re a patient person by nature, that will help a lot to keep the calm during hard times and keep working without too many second thoughts (yes, I said “too many” because self-doubt will happen sometimes..). If you’re like those who can’t wait to achieve long-term goals, I’d suggest you to develop patience as a skill. Imagine that patience is a muscle that you must work out every day!
I do follow the famous entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk on some of his online channels, as he’s an incredible source of motivation, and he talks quite often about the importance of patience when building a successful career. Explore his content if you’d like to get a deeper insight about it 🙂
Being an illustrator also implies being your own boss. So do you think you have what it takes? Or do you find hard to fight procrastination and laziness?
Remember that you will be the only one who tells you to get up in the mornings to work on your current project and finish your tasks every day.
This is serious… Make a commitment with yourself to work hard and stop procrastinating. Good things will only happen if you are proactive!
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
This seems very obvious, but believe me, this is also a big key to achieve your professional goals and enjoy the whole process!
Eat healthy, stay hydrated and make exercise at least for an hour a day . If you have never done it, don’t overthink it and start today!
Join your nearest gym, sign up for dance classes or run a few miles… After only two weeks, I promise you’ll start feeling some of the positive effects.
You’ll sleep better, you’ll be more focused and productive, you’ll avoid getting burned out by work…and many other advantages that I’d like you to experience by yourself 🙂
Additionally, it’s also important to pay attention to your self-esteem. This means that you should work on your fears and insecurities if they really slow you down. Learn to be positive, as the same way you can learn to be more patient, and try to interact with other professional creatives to keep you motivated and inspired.
It can also be very common to run into people who will tell you that your dream job is not a really good thing to pursue. And if they notice that you’re feeling insecure in any aspect, they’ll think they’re right and may try to convince you to quit “for your own good”.
Most of the time, they are just worry about us, they don’t understand our passion and they are not really familiar with our professional field or the potential of the market. However, you can always prove them wrong if you keep working on it. Or even better, just be polite, ignore them and follow your guts 🙂 Just do it for yourself and your own well-being.. But again, in order to do this, you have to be strong, passionate, trust yourself and have a good self-esteem to avoid being affected by the naysayers’ influence.
Who knows… Maybe you end up being an inspiration to those people to follow their passion as well! That’d be pretty awesome, right? 🙂
So, how do you feel now about the idea of becoming a freelance illustrator or creative? Do you relate to any of these strengths? Do you think you can make them part of your life and even improve them? Is your passion strong enough?
I hope you enjoyed this post and find it useful. It’d be very helpful if you leave a comment below and tell me if you enjoyed it, share your thoughts or whether you’d like more content like this 🙂