Q: What advice would you give a student entering the field of illustration (image making)?
A: In school, the idea that I might not find success as an artist never entered my mind. I found illustration my second year in art school, and I fell in love with the visual problem solving required in the discipline. I was aware of the horrible attrition rate of professional artists, and I would shrug off the doubts as if they were other people's concerns. Reality set in when I graduated. I began asking the tough questions- What am I doing differently than the thousands of other students graduating from art schools across the world? How to I begin? How good is my product? Who will by my product?
I waited tables, worked at a gym, taught a bit, worked retail, and somewhere I found the courage to look above the mire that my life had become. I found a community in the Illustration Academy, and I committed to a total immersion of my life in art- much as it had been in school.
Be sure to embrace your arts community. You are not above it, better than it, etc. An artist can't live in isolation. The period immediately following school can be very depressing. It is the first time that you aren't punished, or rewarded for doing/not doing your work. You aren't required to be anywhere, or to answer to anyone. The lack of parameters can be very difficult for the undisciplined. You must set goals, set a schedule, and follow them. There will be more on goal setting next post.