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What are some good tips for finding a career in illustration?

I am very excited to be going to college soon for my bachelors degree in fine arts with an illustration major. I am doing well in school and have had many people say that I should have chosen a different major that will be easier to find a job in. It would be amazing to have a carrier doing what I love, but it would also be bitterly disappointing if I went through all that schooling for nothing. #graphic-design #drawing #illustrator #art-school

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Kathy’s Answer

Hi Rachel!


Yeah, I hear you! NObody wants to waste all that money and not be able to find a job at the end of it! Have you thought of doing a double major?
Even so, pick a second major that you think you still might like so you're not completely miserable if you end up with that as your career. ;)


So... is the illustration career competitive? Definitely. But I'd recommend exploring sites like Avalanche to see what people are creating.
http://avalanchesoftware.blogspot.com/
And also Blizzard...
http://us.blizzard.com/en-us/community/conceptart/


Both of these sites have some amazing art! Great places for inspiration.


If you think you're talent is up to the challenge, then go for it! Being an illustrator is challenging, but can be very rewarding especially when you see your art published in games or film! (Occasionally print, but as you know, that's much more rare these days.)


One of the snags that I've seen happen to friends that are amazing illustrators is that they're not used to the speed in which they need to produce these gorgeous works of art. When you work at a company, you usually don't get the unlimited time to indulge in that high level of detail that most artists enjoy. That can be frustrating.


On the other hand, if we're NOT talking about super detailed, mind-blowing art, but rather simple graphic art elements and illustrations you can find jobs as production artists at game companies, education companies and digital publication websites. It's not as decadently enjoyable as spending infinite hours on one piece, but getting a job with steady work is pretty nice, too!


You might want to learn HTML5 and other web coding to make yourself even more employable. I've seen a lot of HTML5 coders who do a decent job of laying out web pages, but the ones who ALSO have great graphic design and illustration skills are even more in demand. More and more companies want to find people who can do both well.


So, maybe taking some classes on web development, UX and graphic design layout principles would be helpful. I don't think you should give up on your Illustration studies at all, if that's what you really love! But probably padding them with these other skills would be a good idea.


Best of luck!


-Kathy

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Sally’s Answer

I was going to do BA in Fine Art and Illustration when I left school, but I turned to engineering instead, which was incredibly rewarding. But I never lost my love for illustration. Now, I am nearly 50, gave up my engineer job in 2013 and am in my third year of BA (Hons) Illustration and freelancing as a professional Illustrator and Graphic Artist. It mkes me so happy doing the very subject I have always loved.
My BA has taught me to consider Graphic Design as a serious career move because the work is there, but I was true to my heart and am pleased I stuck with illustration. I can illustrate fantasy and for children, but also design book covers and branding as a second business. I managed to design my own art website and from this experience, I taught myself web design, SEO and online marketing. So I also freelance web design work too. If you are concerned about getting work, I would advise you to get your degree if you want to work in a design studio. But if you want to do your own thing anf freelance, then a degree is not necessarily a requirement (in fact many professionals artists say that they have never been asked if they have a degree or not), but it will definitely give you the skills you need in today's business, how to promote yourself and build up a portfolio to be proud of. With the internet, illustration work is easier to access and you have a vast industry to explore, depending on your style of illustration and your desire of where you want to use it. Go for it, I did and I didnt regret it one bit.
Just remember, a degree alone will NOT get you a job, YOU will get you a job: it is about you as a person, your style and portfolio and your ambition. An employer wants to know if you will fit in with his/her team and what you can bring to the table.

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Cuong’s Answer

The thing about getting a degree in fine arts is harder to get a job in most places around the world. In fact, it is probably indeed the most competitive job in the world. I used to be into fine art courses for 2 years during my college years. Then I thought the exact same thing what you're thinking.


You can use your creative skills towards to other areas. Such as graphic design, web design, or motion graphics which is essentially animation. There are different ways to use your creative talents.


But if you feel a strong passion to stay in fine arts/illustrations major, look into minor degree or even double major. Yes, it'll be tough but the pay off would higher.

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