Question for pro's: Do you feel trapped?

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  1. #1
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    Unhappy Question for pro's: Do you feel trapped?

    Hi,

    (I'm sorry, this is kind of a broad question...)

    I've heard professional artists, both in the entertainment and publishing industry, say they feel too confined by their job, perhaps because it's not as much of a creative outlet as they'd hoped. Or they're bored of their specialization. Or maybe a few years after the glamor of making money doing something they enjoy wears off. I'm getting to think that everyone kind of feels this way. Is it an an "artist thing"? A "human thing"? Or just the nature of the industry?

    Now, I realize that everyone likes to work on personal pieces, even people who enjoy their jobs. I'm talking about people who, if what they did stopped paying the bills, wouldn't do it anymore.

    So are there any exceptions? People who feel pretty much feel fulfilled by their jobs? If you're one of these people who does feel creatively content with your job, what did you do to get to that point? Were you really picky about choosing your particular position, or is it just your outlook on life?


    (I myself am still a student, and am asking this question out of curiosity, and in fishing for a little wisdom I may not have heard yet. I tend to do a variety of stuff, and am kind of afraid that I'll pigeon-hole myself somehow and not be able to dig myself out.)

    Last edited by Zirngibism; January 25th, 2010 at 04:22 AM.
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  3. #2
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    i cant give the answer, but i'm interested
    i guess in an ideal world where i would be a freelance illustrator with a lot of jobs to pick, i wouldnt get bored.
    that is, as long as i have the feeling im improving myself. i think from the moment i have the feeling i reached my top, i might lose some motivation.

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  4. #3
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    Well, I'm not who you're asking (i.e. an amateur) but I'll toss out an answer anyway and see if it helps you.

    Regardless of if you work as an artist or only do art as a hobby, your day job is doing stuff that you wouldn't be doing if you weren't getting paid. Even if you're an artist for a living, if you weren't being paid by a client or on a salary, you'd be making your own art instead of what you make for a check. The only advantage to doing art for a living is that you get more time to hone your technical abilities, but you'd spend about as much time on what you want.

    As for job fulfillment, that has a lot to do with the person and the job itself. For example, starting in May I'm shipping off to Navy RTC in order to enter the Navy's Nuclear program. It isn't exactly what I envisioned myself doing, but I find Physics interesting enough to read up on in my spare time and I hear the program keeps its sailors on their toes so I think I'll be happy doing it. If I could do it all over again I might have tried for an art career, but honestly I can't complain with the course I've taken.

    You'd best believe though that when I've got the time I'll be setting some of it aside for art, be it on a ship or at home.

    -My work can be found at my local directory thread.
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  6. #4
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    I'm not sure who you've heard this from but I'll try to give you my perspective. Artists (and I think any creative professionals, musicians, writers, etc.) walk a very thin line between being extremely excited about their profession and knowing they could be better. This is an internal drive and is one of the things that "fuels the fire" to keep pushing to improve, explore and create stuff from absolutely nothing. It can also lead to feelings of inadequacy and amplify a sense of disatisfaction with "where you are" - which may sound or be manifest as "I'm trapped doing X because I want to be doing Y" - even though X is really great and when I start doing Y then I want to be doing Z. It's a little bit of the grass is always greener in that respect.

    There is an additional component that is only occasionally discussed in hushed tones...so I hope I don't get kicked out of the club. There is also a weird dichotomy between how hard we work at what we do and also how many tricks there are to it - not to mention how much we get paid - for doing that which we do. Just one of those weird little things...

    On this feeling of "inadequacy" or drive to better one only needs to look at the great artists throughout history - I don't care what name you want to put in there - I'm sure they all died feeling they could do better and theiir best work remains to be painted - that seems to be the nature of the creative experience.

    All art "careers", Illustrator, gallery artist, graphic designer, concept artist, etc. have their own challenges and BS one must deal with - but that too is just the nature of experience - wild animals have to deal with being eaten or finding something to eat - zoo animals get fed but have to deal with living in the zoo.

    I hope that provides a little insight, I'd be curious as to what fellow professionals have to say as well, whether it is similar or they have some unique experiences. In the end try not to overthink it and expect to plan it all out - just try to go with it - that's all that will happen anyway! Have fun!

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    I'll give you my experience.

    I used to work in a design/sculpture department of a toy company, doing grunt texture/base forms, but there were many people who worked there that while they sculpted dynamic figures for a living, just looked at it as a job because they were pigeonholed into doing the same work over and over again.

    I don't know about the illustration field, but I know in commercial sculpture, you have next to no time for personal projects/home life.

    The ratio is about even though for people who enjoy vs those who look at it just as a paycheck. Also a lot of stress for the creative talent comes from the bureaucracy in firms, whether it be accounting, human resources, management stressing deadlines, so dealing with all of it and managing your personal life is a challenge.

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  10. #6
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    Well; I would be one example of someone who is never fulfilled with his job and gets bored easily; I have worked in the past years in a variety of illustration related gigs that have nothing to do with each other: Mag cover art,, postcards, surfboard designs, animation, rpg card game illustration, comic sequential art, coloring, videogame art, teaching digital art, etc.

    But, I feel VERY fulfilled in THAT VARIETY; I never had a full time job always freelance, and I don`t think I would be able to have a full time job because I get bored, freelance is for me; If I like a gig, I take it, if I don`t like it, I let it pass, I love the variety and freedom that freelance gives me, if I want to do something specific, I just throw samples to companies that produce the kind of stuff I want to work on, and eventually I get assigned a freelance job, I do it, and feel fulfilled, I can do anything I want.

    Some people are "magazine cover artists" or "comic book artists" or they work in something very specific for the rest of their lives, I am not like that.

    On the side, I work on my own pieces, that I put all the effort and time I want, and, they end up being the best pieces I do.

    Hope I understood/answered your question.

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  12. #7
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    I love my job (drawing graphic novels). It is a lot of work, and the pay is just okay, and it took me 10 years to get here, and I wish I had more time to just paint. But I absolutely love it.

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  13. #8
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    I think it is a great question. I think you are right that it is human nature for some types of people to always want something more from life just as it is human nature for some to be content with what they have.
    My problem was if I was worth the money they were paying me to be an artist why did they let non artists make the artistic decisions and just use me as a wrist. They could never see the idea behind the art is what is ultimatley important not the polishing of a bad idea. This is what ultimately made me leave the field. Even a movie like Avatar which I enjoyed, is so juvenile, trite and dirivitive and yet is being held up as this artistic triumph. You can imagine most projects aren't even this creative which doesn't say much for the industry.

    How I solved the lack of creativity for me is, I left commercial art became successful at gallery art and then slowly began picking and choosing projects in commercial art again that I was allowed carte blanche on.

    This to me is very satisfying along with the fact I paint exactly what I want for galleries and they sell it, allows me to feel fulfilled as an artist even though I always strive to be a more accomplished artist technically.

    I think the key is not to get caught up in the hype of working for something that has fame attached to it and remember ultimately you want to do work that is worthwhile to you. Don't specialize in your work if you can avoid it
    ( some can't because they have limited ability) Do what you love, even if the idea of what that is changes.

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  15. #9
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    I'm fortunate in that my boss is an artist - not so much that he doesn't share my taste.

    I'm fortunate that I'm working on stuff I enjoy.

    I'm fortunate that I'm not working in a call center. So, so far I'm feeling pretty darned good about it. Of course commercial art will never be quite as fulfilling as non commercial unless I myself become the art director (which is my ultimate goal). So yeah, I love it, but there could be much more to it. I guess I've been lucky to work on fun projects so far. Of course one could come along that I hate and I'd just have to deal with it. Still, like I say, if I wasn't here I'd be in a call center.

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  17. #10
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    Thanks for all the replies! I guess it's just reassuring to see that it's probably more about attitude, which is kind of what I'd expected. I thought the estimation of "50% are there for the money/security, 50% because they really enjoy it" to be interesting and something to see if I can notice myself.

    I guess I've just been afraid that when I graduate might move across the country, work as a concept artist, have fun at first, but after a year of doing the same kinds of stuff, get bored, but be stuck with really expensive rent and feel like I have to keep going with my job in order to stay afloat.

    I've been told by several people who've worked in the industry that aspiring commercial artists look up to these coveted jobs as this source of constant challenge and artistic growth with the perk of getting paid, but that after the glamor of being there wears off it becomes an office job like any other. And even if they're unhappy they remain because it would be too difficult to try to move and find a new one, and often people who work in these jobs feel too burned out to work on personal stuff.

    But, to look back on this question, I suppose this kind of "being trapped" thing can happen with ANY job, not just art!

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  18. #11
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    The issues you're taking about aren't specific to being an artist, they're specific to being an adult.


    Tristan Elwell
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