Wednesday, August 22, 2012
The Dirty Work Of Illustration
Not that illustration is dirty work - unless you're working in chalk pastels...no, I mean the dirty side of the business...which is, the BUSINESS SIDE. None of us got into this business for the business right? -and if you did then someone gave you the business! If we had really wanted to become business people we would have majored in business and would probably be failing at some facebook knock off right now wondering how much longer the V.C. capital is going to last. Instead we're trying to find some freakin time to do what we love amidst the dreaded task of satisfying assignments we might not really want to work on and doing the dreaded business tasks.
This isn't going to be one of those sugar coated pep talks where I tell you everything's going to be alright. Not going to be a top 5 list of things you can do to make it easier. The fact is -the business side is often what separates the successful from the dreamers. It's like taking out the garbage - if you don't do it regularly it will pile up, get in your way, and stink up the place worse than shell fish rotting in the sun. On top of that your great ideas stack up and stagnate. You'll be one of those people who says, "I could have done that" or "I had an idea like that" or "That didn't really take that much talent"...yeah? you're right -what it took was getting up and doing the dirty work of making it happen (and failing a lot). The phone calls. The leg work. The ordering. The research. The face time. The follow up. The lunch meeting. The emailing back and forth. The planning. The lack of sleep. The writing. The bounce back after rejection. and all the other stuff that goes into taking your art and combining it with an idea that people want - like this one from my friend Jed: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1499165518/ukiyo-e-heroes?ref=live
Some times illustrators get lucky. I've known a few to stumble on a great project that happened to really take off and find enormous commercial success. Most of these illustrators already put in the work and created their luck so to speak but again - they're rare. For the rest of us it takes tenacity of immense proportions to push through project after project hoping that we figure out a way to make more money.
It's easy making the dummy book. Easy making the promo piece. Easy doodling in the sketchbook. Easy designing the cover. Easy shopping for supplies. Easy doing what we love. But to be successful you have to be willing to face and embrace the uncomfortable. The mundane. The embarrassing. The tedious. The repetitive. The boring and the dreaded. The successful person is often zombie like. Knock em down - they get back up - over and over and over again. In this business you're going to have to get pretty dirty if you want to make a living at it.