Friday, August 28, 2009

What am I waiting for?

"I am an Artist."
Even before I ever got paid to create art I have always been able to say, "I am an Artist."
That's all I have ever wanted to be.
I have worked in fast food, Fancy restaurants, bars, casinos, landscaping, a giftware company, and even spent time in the military.
At everyone of those jobs I always told people that I was an artist. It was a lot easier at the giftware company since that's why they hired me.
Today I am an artist. A freelance artist. I am my own boss.
Unfortunately, I am not getting enough work to keep me busy or "pay the bills."
It's just the reality of how the economy is right now.
So I have been trying to figure out what to do about it. Should I go to school and get a degree in graphic design so I can work for a company as their "go to guy" for everything digital?
Should I go to school and get a teaching degree and teach art to Middle and/or High Schoolers? Help them prepare for the real world of being an artist.
Should I try to find any job that will pay the bills and go back to being an artist on the side when I have time?

I'm not sure if I like any of the options.
I do have to face the fact that it will be awhile before being a freelancer will be able to pay the bills again.

So what do I do?

Well, I took my first step a couple of days ago. I decided to start working on becoming an author/illustrator.
I used to enjoy writing. I never focused on it. Never wrote anything seriously after High School, but I believe I can write stories to go with my art.
Why should I spend my "down time" waiting for an art director/editor to call and offer me an illustration job.
No, I don't just sit back and wait for the phone to ring. I send out news letters, search the net, and apply for jobs on art sites looking for work.
The other day I checked a book out from the library. "A Caldecott Celebration" It told the story of how several different artists created the art and story that won them the Caldecott award. The one thing that I noticed was that the book was written and illustrated by the artist. I say by the artist, because each person seemed to have been illustrating other peoples stories/projects before writing their own book. They weren't trying to make a living as writers, but as artists.
So the thought finally clicked into my head, "What am I waiting for?"
"Why am I resisting writing my own books?"
It might take me 7 years to achieve the goal, like Maurice Sendak and "where the wild things are," but I won't know until I start doing it.
So I have started. I'm starting small with a board book about colors. I would like to achieve some success in less than 7 years, so I'll start small and see what happens.
Just today working on one of the characters for that book I came up with an concept to flesh her out into her own books. I said books plural. I can't tell you any more because I made myself sign a nondisclosure agreement. An believe me I'll sue myself if I have too.
A bigger project that I have in mind has to do with the Dragon art that I posted in a previous post. Scroll down, you'll see it.
That one is a series of picture books or maybe a chapter book. I don't know. That might be biting off more than I can chew right now. It may even be something I would like to co-write with an experienced writer.
Needless to say, now now that I have opened that door in my mind that was holding me back the ideas are starting to flow.
Now it may/will take time for any of this to "start paying the bills" also. I understand that, but it gives me a new goal to shoot for, and gives me the satisfaction of knowing that I have taken a step towards being proactive in my career.
I can no longer ask myself, "What am I waiting for?"
Instead I am asking myself, "How do I make this happen?"
Coming up with ideas is my first step. We'll see where it goes from here.


Mighty Kwan said...

Best of luck to you Robert! Luckily you are a member of SCBWI and I'm sure you can find multiple writing and crit groups to join and share your scripts with and really hone your talents and abilities.(Their seems to be a lot more writers than illustrators in that organization anyway.) Maybe even start by submitting articles to educational or youth oriented magazines and periodicals!
Also one of the winners that is in the book you mentioned, David Weisner. Wrote one of my favorite children's books called Flotsam and it hasn't not one word in the entire thing! So the sky is the limit for you bro! Just keep reaching up!

-Also, I'm not sure if you have an agent or not? Maybe that is something you could look into to get more work?

Best of luck!!

Debra Cooper said...

Wow, its kinda nice to read that someone with such success doing art is writing about what to do next. I have been struggling as to what direction to even begin in. I'm creating art that fits in the childrens market but they just end up in a pile in a box because I don't think anyone will like them at all. The fear is paralizing that I call my pile of art the burn pile. I look forward to reading about your new adventure and how you get there. I think your work is amazing and wish you the best. Hopefully someday I will break out.