(Illustration for Newsweek by Michael Koelsch)
You’re Graduating Art School…Now What?
That's a good question. Although, I'm sure if you're now graduating, you've been asking yourself that question often. If you haven't, you are probably going to be an art director telling us what to do.
While it seems like decades ago that I graduated (well, that's 'cause it has been), some of the things that were relevant then are still relevant today.
DO what you love.
I'm assuming you went to an art school and are going into some field that uses art because you love creating. If you don't like making things and solving problems in a creative and artistic way you might be in the wrong field. Remember, not every job from here on out will be as creative as you want, but try not to let that deflate you and your love for art. Also, try to find some time to do personal work to keep that love burning; not all commercial jobs are as creative as you'd like them to be.
KEEP growing -- continue to find new influences.
While in school you probably looked through tons of books and magazines and found a lot of creative energy gleaning from fellow illustrators and designers. When entering the "real world" it gets harder to find time and resources to get those influences. Keep relevant and see what is going on in the industry you are in and use those directions to help create and transform your style.
POUND the pavement.
Get out there. . . you're now out of the "womb" of the school. Go see shows and museums, and even magazine racks. Seems like there is a lot more illustrators out there, but there are more opportunities too. Show your book around and don't just rely on the internet and hope some AD finds you doing an internet search. Meet ADs and other Creative Directors and shake their hands. It goes a long way.
PAY OFF your student loans.
If you have loans and borrowed money, pay it back sooner than later. That interest adds up quickly! (Hit up dad. He probably charges less interest than the banks do.)
Lastly, BE flexible.
While this might sound a little contradictory to my first note, it's not really. Being in illustration or design is different than being a fine artist. You have to treat it like a business and have to remember you are helping an AD solve a problem. Don't turn down a job just because you need to tweak your style a bit. Get some jobs under your belt and see where it leads. You can still stay true to yourself and be flexible. Working is much better than eating ramen noodles three meals of the day.
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