Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Breaking into the industry

I get emails every now and again about what to put in a portfolio or how to get a job. the truth is a job will find you. Don't focus on finding a job. Just compare your work to what you see in the art of books or your favorite artist on the internet. you have to be that good to get a job. A lot of people think, "oh, if I could only get that job, then people would teach me and I could be that good." (By the way, that's exactly what I used to think). you will get a lot better on the job, but you have to be at a professional level to get the job in the first place. If you get a job when you're not that good, you're just going to worry about getting fired, when instead if you get really good, you'll be turning down work (I'm not quite there yet). I made this mistake when I graduated from school. I thought I was pretty good and could just get a job. After about my fifth rejection letter and two years out of work I got desperate. I thought this was going to be easy. I was at comiccon and watched one of the "Flight" artist drawing a picture next to his name. It took him absolutely no effort. Meanwhile, drawing was extremely hard for me. I just decided I wasn't going to draw another comic, or drawing out of my head until I knew how to draw. I started taking classes and just studying for 2 years. I didn't do stories for Flight 4 and 5. I just studied. Then, all of a sudden, I had 2 job offers. Later, I did a story for flight 6 and it was so much easier. I actually like drawing now, where it used to be painful.

SO, a plan of attack.
1) You already draw well and people are emailing you because your work is so awesome and everyone wants to hire you.
2) If not, it takes about 3 years to get to a professional level (good enough to get a job). That's with studying all the time morning noon and night.
3) It takes about 10 years to get good at something. (At least that's what Steve Huston told me and he's really good). So you have to keep working to get to that next level after you are at the professional level.


  1. So we must keep studing and learning. Thanks once again.

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  3. Great advice Rad. I'd like to read about your 2 year study journey in detail some time.


  4. i am so excited to find your blog!

    how about when you are good enough that you get non-stop pro-bono offers ;)

  5. Norn cutson: I am extremely lazy. I took every job that I thought would force me to draw something new. Don't worry about the pay, take them all. They will only help you get better. They are sort of like stepping stones on to bigger paying jobs. They are almost like homework assignments if you don't go to art school.

  6. hmm, I can see what you are saying with this rad, definitely. But what if you are at least a semi seasoned dood who CAN do all the work as well (or close to as well) as the art in the "art of" books, but for some reason you keep getting turned down for jobs you know you can do and do well?

    But this is very good advice, I was also in the same boat when I graduated, it is a long road for sure.

    cheers to you and for this excellent blog you are maintaining.


  7. LFW: If you can do the job, and you can do it better than a lot of people, then it's just a matter of time. One thing to keep in mind is how you come across in an interview as well. If you come off as even the slightest bit negative, they won't hire you. When they are looking to hire someone on a show they actually come around and ask other employees what they've heard. They want very positive people.

  8. I am from India and being a conservative place, being out of job is looked at as a social stigma esp in a field like animation and movie making which are considered to be "trivial" and engineering and medicine still rule the roost. I guess we would have to toggle between a regular day job (a really bad one) and leave the nights and weekends for learning. I cant see any other way out here. Unfortunate but true.
    But on a happy note, an excellent blog!!!! And a great piece of inspiration.