In the past few months, I received a number of emails from budding artists asking for advice. One, who I particularly found sweet and endearing, wished she could be "half as successful as" me. Another one thought she would have to give up her life to her art.
We live in a time where a small success may seem augmented. Social media has the capacity to echo our 'doings' far beyond than what we could ever reach alone. And, if you are doing it right, you do attain that elusive notion of success.
So what advice did I dispense? Un-sugar coated...I can honestly say that this is the best career in the world. But it is also the hardest to be successful at. The earlier you start, the better. Practice daily! It is the only way to do the best. Even it is just a squiggle, but do it.
NEVER compare yourself to anyone. NEVER! Your uniqueness will seem like a flaw. You are the Amazing YOU! Not Picasso. Not Dali. Not Erte. Not David Downton, Katie Rodgers or SuJean Rim. This piece of advice is one I have to CONSTANTLY remind myself, because there will always be artists that are better than you and more successful than you. It takes years to be successful, and their current skill level, is a mark of the years they have spent practicing this wonderful skill. You will get there too.
Be proud of every sketch. Don`t censor yourself. Always post them. Why? Because usually what you think it`s flawed, will be loved by everyone else. On the opposite spectrum, will also hear criticism. That is all that is, criticism and it is a valuable tool that can help you grow. Be open to it and wise enough to discern when it is not constructive.
Form heroes. Living and dead. I love Jean Cocteau, but I know why I love him and what parts of my work he inspires. If you are inspired by anyone, learn from them. Learn why you love them. Why you find their lines appealing or their color palettes call to you. Know the reasons and how you can apply that knowledge to your work.
Read books. That`s right! Educate yourself. Find who is the authority on what you want to know. Here is some books I have read; " Ignore Everyone", "It's Not How Good You Are, Its How Good You Want to Be", "Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite", 'The Motivation Manifesto", Andy Warhol`s Idea Notebook (not a book but a sketchbook prompter), "Steal Like An Artist". These books will help you think abstractly about your adventure in art.
Leave a legacy. One day, you will not be here. But your artwork will survive you. Your family, children, grandchildren will admire the wonderful person who created those pieces! Why not make that artwork be the most meaningful? Did you know that Beethoven`s 6th Symphony was meant to depict actions and pictures in the music he composed? Illustration, or fashion illustration, doesn`t have to be a shallow en-devour. It can be meaningful and lovely.
Know that, you do not have to be half as successful as anyone. The perceived success of a artist is just a landmark of their hard work thus far. Work hard, know your goals, keep motivated and you will reap the benefits of being "as successful as", only you can be.
I once hear that you never truly master anything. You improve yourself daily. But by the time you die, you have set a standard for someone else to improve upon. That is all we, as illustrators, hope our work will be. The new standard.