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So you want to be an artist part 3 What Now?

In the first 2 post I tried to put down some advice for a young person starting on their journey to become an artist / designer now let’s discuss what comes next…

You’ve taken the plunge and did the work to complete school or some form of training as an artist. Let’s assume you did really well, met some great people and learned a lot of skills. You’ve mastered the tools and techniques needed to be competitive in an incredibly wide range of subjects maybe even figured out what your passion is. Congratulations and welcome to the creative world.

Now that you’re ready it’s time to really get to work. School was your first step, it gives you the keys to unlock the door. But you’re going to need to do a lot more to make this the joyous fulfilling experience it can be. Remember that you are entering the real world now. There’s a lot of competition out there and many things your education missed. It’s simply impossible to prepare someone for everything that will come at them and most curriculums don’t even address a lot of it.

Portfolio preparation – In school I had one class dealing with this it was an elective and to be blunt woefully inadequate. Your portfolio is your body of work. When you get started it’s literally the most vital things you have. Later in your career it will not be as important. But in the beginning this is the way potential employers will decide to give you a job or not. Back in olden times portfolios were big cases full of real artwork and paintings. By my time “ the dark ages “ they were usually medium sized cases full of prints of your work.

My Old Print Portfolio
More work…

Today websites and digital media can house your work to great affect and you should use them. In addition though people still respond well to a physical presentation. Something about being able to touch and manipulate the pages. I’m not even gonna mention what can be done with social media as I am a caveman, but you know what to do…

Thoughts on an Effective Portfolio

Break the work into projects and show a cross section of the design process. ideation, orthographic views, 3d massing, renderings etc…This shows that you understand the design process and it gives the reviewer an understanding of how you think and where you can fit into the team. Remember that in most instances you will be working with a group of other creatives and your ability to think and solve problems is as important as your skill as an artist

Be Strategic in your presentation.

  • Show your best work
  • Show the work you want to do…
  • Show work that fits the job you’re applying for
  • Utilize technology. I have started using my IPAD Pro as a portfolio. You can assign your work as a photo and group the work into an album. The IPAD displays your work beautifully and its very easy to pass around during a sit down meeting. Another positive aspect of this is that you can control who is seeing your work, very hard to do on a website…
IPAD as Portfolio


Present yourself well, this is one of those areas that can cause trouble for you and most people are reluctant to even bring it up. The art world is unique in that so many varied personalities come together. In reality your personal fashion taste are pretty much up to you. Long gone are the days of designers wearing full suit and tie. However use common sense, if you’re applying for a position at a company try and get an idea of the expected dress code ahead of time and reflect that during the interview. You can always relax and let your personal style shine through after you have the gig. As a side to this remember, the people who run the companies are usually quite a bit older than you and were raised in a more formal environment. It helps to show them you can adapt to their standard. This will make it more likely they take you seriously…

Physical Fitness

There’s an old saying healthy body healthy mind, I believe this to be true. As an artist your mind is what does the lions share of the work. It stands to reason keeping it healthy is a good idea. It’s a fact that exercise helps keep hormones in balance and an even releases natural chemicals like endorphins which help with your mental state.

I would suggest you add a physical fitness regimen of some type to your routine. It may seem an odd thing to say but I have important reasons for this.

  • Art / design is a somewhat sedentary occupation. You are going to be spending an enormous amount of time sitting in dark rooms staring at a computer screens. when you’re young this doesn’t present a problem usually, but your career is going to be long. Artist routinely work into their advanced years long after everyone else has retired to Miami. Keeping your fitness will help you enjoy that long career.
  • I believe vigorous training like weight lifting can actually protect you from the dreaded carpel tunnel and back issues. But I understand that’s just my thing. you find something that fits your personality and do it.
  • End result you will feel good and be more confident in yourself which other people will respond too. Perception is reality so use that to your advantage…

Enjoy yourself and stay calm.

don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re not getting the job offers you want right away. Remember this is a long game. You will be turned down for jobs

It doesn’t mean your no good it just means that job was not for you…

Take it easy says Grendel 😛

If you stay positive and continue to push yourself to improve eventually people will notice. Don’t compare yourself too much with other artist, remember in the end you are competing with yourself, always striving to become the best artist / designer you can be.

Theres a lot more I could say but this is getting long…

“ Breaking news 2020 is a seriously messed up year ”

I really wish I had completed this post before the current situation we are all in. I wanted the post to be helpful and maybe even optimistic. I really did intend it to be for young aspiring artist like my beautiful lil niece and my friends daughter. That’s a bit tough when the world “ especially the USA “ is seemingly being driven off a cliff by circumstance and incompetence….

But as my dad wisely says “ don’t focus too much on things you cannot control “. That doesn’t mean don’t pay attention but it does mean take care of what you can do yourself first. I have been let go with hundreds if not thousands of others from what was arguably the best “ job “ I ever had. Just this week Disney is letting go of 28,000 employees. Things are gonna get weird here for awhile, but I also know I’ll survive it. and so will you…

Always good advice

I now get to put in play the things I wrote here earlier and get ready for the shift. Currently I see this as a move back to freelance work. I will target my themed entertainment and TV / Film set design folks by getting back in touch. I have updated and launched the new portfolio site, There’s still a few tweaks to be made, I will be moving some stuff around and adding more of my ideation sketch work as I know Art Directors’s like that… Also thinking to produce a few storyboards to show the style I developed for Universal since I can’t show any of that work right now…

I am also making an effort to put ecstatic pixel to work. The blog has been fun and it’s served a good purpose but going forward I intend to use “ EP “ to represent my non commercial side as well. Fanny is working on the website and I am preparing some other goodies. We will be finally launching some ideas that have been languishing for over a decade now… original art prints, unique graphics for clothing and accessories and some fine art pieces I’m challenging myself to produce. More to follow on all that

Back to the point. Wherever you’re at in your career you need a plan.

Here’s a rough outline of mine for now

  • Finish off my Universal work in good condition. “ your only as good as your last gig “
  • Resume and portfolio
  • Prepare the studio; computers, software, etc…
  • Reconnect with clients
  • Breath…

I need to get back in contact with my previous clients as for the last 5 years I’ve been unavailable to them. Out of sight out of mind is a real thing…

Networking. Your network is your biggest asset outside of your actual skill set. Over my career 99% of my work has come through people I know, people I’ve worked with before and people who get told about me by the first two groups. You should cultivate your relationships with clients and workmates as the precious commodity they are but do it naturally. You should be friendly and supportive of people because it’s the right way to be and most people will return the favor…

Being an artist / designer is a great career. You can make really good money and you will never stop growing and learning. It’s not easy and without hard work you cannot succeed; but if you do have it in ya, there is no more rewarding life… I wouldn’t want to be anything else…

Till next time…

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