Feb 26, 2012

The art of motivation

Find it hard to keep yourself motivated as a (starting) illustrator/artist? Feel like you're the only one?
The following things might help!


One of the good things about having a part-time job next to being a freelance illustrator is that I make the most of my 'illustration-days'. I'm so happy I can work at home and I want to do all these things, there is no doubt that I'm not getting busy that day. I love my 'illustration days' (and also: weekend too)! And yes, I have some financial security so I don't feel thát much pressure to get 'every' client and do 'every' sort of illustration job. I try to do what I like and I do some personal projects next to that.

There are, of course, the downsides. I really wish I could have more time for my illustration business, I get kind of jealous and sad when I see full-time (freelance) illustrators, I really wish I would be able to do that, but well, this gives me a goal to work towards to. I need to be patient but still keep on working..it's something that you'll need a lot of determination and motivation for I guess.
But also: if I have some actual illustration commissions then I barely have time to finish it. I don't mind working in the evenings, but it's kinda hard when you worked all day long, especially when your part-time job is something that makes you (physically) tired. And then I also have a boyfriend whom I want to share some time with, and then I'm not even talking about meeting friends or family.

Yet I feel like it's something of an unspoken subject. These times there are a lot of people talking about tips for getting in clients, how to start your illustration business etc. but nobody is really talking about how to deal with the fact that you'll probably need a part-time job and that it is hard to still work as a 'starting' illustrator besides that. I mean, I can't be the only one doing that. Even when I listened to some podcast about a recent graduate getting her first big project, they said she was 'lucky' that she got it in her first year. Meaning...it will take some time before you 'land' in that phase. It might take months, it might take years. At our art academy they said it could take about five years that you'll have a decent amount. Five years is even longer than art academy itself, can you imagine that?

Anyway, it would be nice to know if there are others like me who still need a part-time job next to trying to become a full time illustrator...that I'm not the only one. And next to that, I wonder how everyone deals with it, how they motivate themselves.

For me, these things keep me motivated:

- Try to make it yourself easy to start drawing.
I keep my draw-and-paint tools close to where I sit at home... I know I have dozen of things..paint..markers..pens, paper, my iPad+stylus, sketchbooks next to me. I try new and 'fun' things and materials, even when I will never use it in a finished illustration. I even bought a pretty pen case...when I see it I want to use it. These simple things really help. Set up your 'workstation' (or your whole room, if you have that kind of space) so that it works the best for you, try keeping things that you find motivating close to yourself.

- Whenever you really don't feel you have the energy for drawing, try to do something else illustration-related, like scrolling through your Tumblr dash or read blogs/rss feeds. Sometimes there are things that get me excited and make me think: I want to make something that awesome and I get pumped. Just try to not get too distracted.

- Buy magazines and books related to drawing and illustration.
They're not always exactly what I'm looking for. Like, it might not be always 'useful', like the articles are about what part of the industry I'm interested in. But there are always things that keep me thinking and growing. And it's easy..it's fun to read things about my work and hobby! (and..yes..since I have a part-time job, I can afford these things :) ! )

- Make the most of the time you have.
Meaning I always have at least an idea of what I want or need to do on my 'illustration day'. Usually íf I have commissions or projects to finish this might be easy, but in case I haven't I think about what I want to do that day and I write it on my (online) calendar.

Also: there are times in between...I just open up a new canvas or paper and just start sketching or doodling away. It's hard when you only have one hour and you think: I can't create something decent in that time. It doesn't matter. It might be hard to leave it be after that hour, but at least you did something in that little time you had, right!?

- Keep a list of ideas or plans.
Whenever I think: "Oh I should draw this some day" I write it down.
In case I have 'time left' and don't have any ideas I can use it, I'll never run out of ideas!

- Don't put too much pressure on it.
I don't draw everyday anymore, even when I'd like to and I know from experience that I have times in a week when I'm tired and times when I have energy and motivation. I feel like putting too much pressure on myself makes me even more tired then I already am. So less pressure means more drawing, means (I think) that my work will get better and that I at least 'do' something illustration-related.

This also means: take time off...give yourself enough time to relax and 'recharge'. To be honest, I find this one hard, because you know: I also think drawing or reading about things I like is relaxation and fun. But it's not really totally having your head somewhere else. It might help to see a friend or take a walk and do grocery shopping...to really think about something else and give your illustration-brain a break.

- If you made something and you're proud of it: share it. 
This also keeps me motivated: knowing that others like what I create, it also gives me some hope. It's funny how I read somewhere that in these times there are too many people sharing things on the internet, especially illustrators don't need to show 'everything' because it might give off the wrong idea to a client... That it isn't good enough to show. But...I have the idea that the majority of 'starting illustrators' I know aren't really sharing at all..or barely. Next to that: it is a form of self-promotion, you never know when someone sees your art and wants you to make something for them!

- Don't give up
..it's the most important thing.
It's hard when you think you've tried everything to get clients or did personal projects and nobody seems interested. I know I had some time I thought: what am I doing wrong? And I compare myself to others and think that I'm just not good enough. But give yourself some credit: you work hard right..and you're probably making great things, be proud of what you do, because it's something not everyone can do.
Illustration is a hard industry to get into (especially in these economic down-times), but it's something very rewarding. Just know that, when you keep on working hard and keep trying things (different kinds of promotion, change/update your website, do some personal projects)...you'll get there someday. It might be soon, it might be later. Being patient is, indeed, also a kind of art.

I know I'm just a starter...what do I know? Well at least I know these things...and I hope I can help others with it and find illustrators and artists who I can share this experience with. If you're one of them and have other tips or ideas, feel free to share them in the comment section!