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  1. #1
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    What do you think?

    SO, here I am, at a big crossroad. I want to do concept art. But I also wouldn't mind doing comics, or really just about any freelance art. Problem is, I really don't know if I have the skills to do anything but comics. I think I do, but not getting picked up after sending out resumes and portfolios makes me kind of understand that my portfolio at least isn't what it needs to be.

    Check it out here, http://evanwsmith.carbonmade.com. Thus far, I think I have a good chance of getting work as a comic artist if I stick with my current project, which I plan to do either way just because I've grown to like it so much and already poured money from my own pocket into it. But the return on my investment isn't likely to be all that great, so I'm trying to find other work I can do on the side too.

    The big problem is, I don't know where to go. I've looked at things like ImageKind and CafePress, but making money off there at any reasonable level seems nigh impossible. I don't live in an area where there's a lot of opportunity for artists either. So what are my options, and what do I need to do to make my portfolio stand out more? Be brutally honest or nice or whatever, I just need help at this point in understanding what to do.

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  2. #2
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    JJ McKool,

    I don't know how old you are, but I suspect you're discovering your 'chops' as an illustrator, and the comic book format really seems to click with you. It's great that you've got such ambitions to do concept art for I assume to be the video game industry, although you can also apply those skills towards animation pre-visualization. You can also do toy design. You can do so many different things with the skills and talent you have.

    However, you don't want to get so overly ambitious, or to be so 'desperate' to get all the work all at once. You can easily end up looking like Scooby Doo in the opening of one of his shows where he runs in 7 different directions at once, connected only by his own tail, only to be snapped violently back into himself.

    If you try to have everything all at once, you'll burn yourself out. You really must simply do things one step at a time. Do your comics project, finish it up. Before you have it finished, have your next project or two lined up, and when you're done with the one, then go right into the other. Then the other. And so on...

    If you're able to draw comics well (varying characters, animals, creatures, every kind of different environment, demonstrating power and subtlety, command of architecture among every other thing), then you will be able to apply yourself to all the other things I've mentioned. If you add to your skill set knowledge in Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and possibly any of the 3D programs (Zbrush, Maya, 3D Studio Max), and Adobe After Effects, this makes you even more valuable to a broader range of clients. When the work flow of one kind of job ebbs, then you can pick up work on another level doing something else. This is the best way for a freelancer to survive, unless you're so very lucky enough to find one kind of job that has a never ending flow of work for you, like Alex Ross' career.

    Alex Ross knows and understands the other computer programs too, I've read.

    Where do you go from here? That's easy.
    Do the job in front of you. Have a plan for where you want to go, and what you want to do next. If and/or when another job presents itself to you, do that while you are still planning for where you want to go and what you want to do next.

    Working in the real world really sucks for a freelancer. You're like an actor in Hollywood who really tends bar or is a waiter for years until you get your big break. This is the life you choose, so you have to make it work for yourself on whatever level you can.

    If you get your big break, that is. This is where you must have faith in yourself. You've got to know where you're going, even when no one else thinks it's possible. As far as living in an area that doesn't have opportunites, well... you'll have to make your own. Learn how to market yourself with a proper website that presents yourself in such a way that convinces people you can handle every kind of job out there. The broader range of your abilities makes you more desirable to clients. There's nothing wrong with looking at the best illustrators' websites out there, emulating them for your own website. After a while, you'll understand what you must do to make your portfolio stand out more.

    Now, about your work... I just posted something in another ConceptArt forum subject yesterday which will apply to you. You can read it here.

    You have a very good sense of drawing characters, though you've got a long way to go to making them as solid, as attractive, as powerfully marketable as someone like Bryan Hitch, Jim Lee, Alan Davis or John Romita Jr. I see virturally ZERO ability to do background environments. In fact, you go out of your way to avoid drawing any kind of backgrounds. Lazy, lazy, lazy. Remember, Rob Leifeld is one of the rare exceptions in the comics industry that has gotten away with doing little-to-no backgrounds. That's just retarded, but he did it.

    Just assume that you can't. Sorry, but looking at the level of talent that you're competing with nowadays, you'll actually have to do the work of being able to draw everything. This is what will give you the best shot at getting employment.

    There's a lot more I can tell you about your work, but this is what you'll have to figure out for yourself, by your good intuition, and maybe by going to every comics convention you can go to (San Diego ComiCon?) to get feedback from actual editors who would be the ones to hire you.

    The one really brutal suggestion I'm sure you won't like, and you'll have to get student loans for, is that you should consider going to the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art. They have correspondence courses, or you can attend their campus for classes. Or you can go to a much more comprehensive place (which I recommend over anything else) like the Ringling College of Art & Design, which will develop your skills so you can have a much broader career. I know and have worked with many people who graduated from Ringling, and they are the best of the best at what they do.

    I personally believe the level of your work is not going to make for a career, because you're lacking on many levels that prevents you from operating on a professional level. Maybe the sacrifices you must make to get where you want to go is for you to bite the financial bullet and go to the Ringling College of Art & Design. You'll be in debt paying back all the loans, but if you're serious about making a life for yourself as a serious creative illustrator/comics artist/3D modeler/whatever, this is a very solid way to go.

    So, what kind of career do you want? What are you willing to do to achieve it? Are you serious enough to do the work that you must to earn the career you can only dream of?

    Good luck...

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  3. #3
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    Thanks for all the advice. I honestly never noticed that I don't draw backgrounds a lot. I mean, I try to, but sometimes they aren't good for the pic, as in character sketches. I do notice what you're sayin now though. Page 14 there ain't finished, but it is more so than some of the other pages I have, and the finished version of five is with the inker. But yeah, need more background in my portfolio pics. I'll be sure to do that. Thanks for pointing it out. Don't wanna turn into Rob.

    I've really been pushing this comic the last few days, and getting continual positive response. One thing is that it will be at least three months before I see any money from it, which is why I'm looking for other things to occupy my time with too. Always planned on college too, and they have a good one up here in Alberta I'm lookin at tryin for for the winter semester. I've ben finding a lot of great advice on everything over the last week, and I'm just really understanding things a lot clearer.

    So thanks for the constructive criticism, and the advice. Oh, and I read that other post, and it's what made me want to get a little more custom info on myself.

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  4. #4
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    I appreciate the advice, too. :-)

    http://www.drunkduck.com/nadya
    Nadya- a tale about what happens to SOME of us when we die...
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