Here are 5 things which you think you need, but which are actually absolutely unnecessary to start your career in illustration.
Hopefully it will give you the kick you need to dare and just go for it!
From Art to Business – Artist Tips to monetize your art!
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I need a better drawing level
How many artists keep putting off showing themselves because they think they’re not good enough yet? Spoiler, yes you can always improve, and yes there will always be more talented artists than you.
That’s the beauty of the business – you’re always evolving and creating better and better drawings every year.
Why wait? You never know who will be interested, and your illustrations, your manga pages, your comics, can be an inspiration to people you wouldn’t even imagine!
In 2007, one of my very first blogger-artist friends, Psychocat, created a fanart of one of my OCs. Now a freelance artist, she did a redraw recently and her style has improved so much, it was amazing!
The same goes for me, the drawings on my first blog still had so many flaws.
I think it’s precisely because of that first step of just daring to show up and share your passion, getting your first comments, being encouraged by other people, that you’ll have this motivation to keep on creating and improving every single day, until you reach the point where you can make a living from your passion.
I need a pretty booth to stand out
At manga conventions at artist alley, there are so many great booths with walls covered with illustrations, tables with decorations, plants, lights, that look so amazing from afar, and you might be tempted to think…
How am I going to compete with that? You don’t have to compete with that.
These booths are usually held by seasoned artists who have been doing this for years. But do you seriously think their booths were this elaborate in the beginning? There are also other, smaller, less decorated booths by amateur artists and despite the simplicity, it doesn’t stop them from selling. Seriously, at my first convention, I didn’t even have a tablecloth and just a miserable pile with a dozen manga in a box! And I sold stuff, and gained new fans.
You don’t need a big budget in the beginning – especially when you don’t know what to expect, what artwork will appeal, just go for it. Show yourself to people and you will improve your presentation and products as you go along, with an audience that will slowly but surely grow.
I need 10,000 followers to sell
A while ago on Instagram, someone asked me, “Do you think I can open an online shop even if I don’t have a big following?” The same goes for opening a Patreon, offering art commissions, and more.
You do NOT need a ton of followers to start something.Now you may not make any big sales in the beginning, but we all start small!
It may take several months before you even sell your first commission, your first art print… and then, there will be a second, a third, and you’ll build up your following little by little.
Honestly, there are many artists with thousands of likes who don’t make a living from it, as well as artists with very few followers who make a decent living from art.
Be daring, just put your offers out there, and you’ll see who is interested.
- What do you lose if nobody buys right now? A little time in the worst case.
- What do you gain if it works? First customers, money, recognition and motivation to continue and create more.
So, isn’t that worth at least trying?
I need professional equipment
Before you invest in bigger things, is this really what you want to do? Can’t you “make do with what you have” and see if it really suits you?
People buy prints even if it’s printed on amateur home-made photo paper if they really like it. They watch videos of illustrations even if the lighting isn’t 100% perfect. When I started online manga classes in 2016, I had a simple 10€ microphone, but I was recording classes every month for Patreon and Mangadraft and despite the very basic editing and sound, I was making consistent 200 to 300€ every month because the content was educational and the students were progressing. It was only after a whole year that I bought the professional mic that I’m still using now, because I had tested the market, and was 100% sure that I wanted to continue with online education.
The equipment doesn’t make the artist – it’s your ideas and creativity that will make you stand out.
I need an artist studio
The artist studio, a super creative space that gets you in the mood, where you have so much space to create, has long been a big goal of mine, because I thought I wouldn’t be taken seriously as a professional working from my parents’ home.
But is it really necessary? Again, no.
To get started and sell your illustrations you just need a table, some drawing supplies, and a computer with internet. Maybe a shelf to store your products. Nothing more. Whether it’s in your bedroom, your kitchen, or even from your bed – you can absolutely grow your audience, create your projects and make a living from art, without a studio.
For years, I actually hosted my real life manga classes in my parents’ kitchen, with my poodle jumping on the students as soon as they rang the bell. I ran my whole business from that little table in the corner of my room, with the bed half a metre behind me.
I even had photo shootings and interviews in that little corner, and you know what? No one ever said anything, because people know it’s not easy to get started, we can’t all afford to rent a studio, and in the end, what your audience is interested in is just seeing your newest work.
Whether you create in your bathroom or in a luxury villa – who cares? Your creativity is not limited to the four walls around you.
Anyways – these objections come up a lot when I talk to aspiring artists, and honestly, if they go through your head, too, you’re totally getting in your own way instead of just going for it!
The keys to success will be your creativity, your passion, and your perseverance.
These are really the only things you’ll need to get started, because when you love what you do, when people feel your passion, your desire to progress, it’s contagious. They will want to encourage you, to support you, and this is how you will slowly but surely make a name for yourself. On that note, I also did a video a few months ago with 10 tips to get started in illustration, monetize and get your first clients within 6 months. That’s how I started and how I’d do it again if I had to start all over again.
So, tell me now if you haven’t dared to start yet. Do any of these objections resonate with you? Do you have any others that are holding you back? Or if you have taken the plunge, what doubts did you have that prevented you from starting?
It’s never too early or too late to start your art career!
Nothing is perfect in the beginning, and you will definitely learn, improve and grow with every experience.
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