|Julia, a very special girl|
Recently I received the following questions from a young talented artist. Since I have received the same questions before, I will address the answers to him but I would like to share the answers with other people that may have a similar dilemma.
1) I love drawing comics and illustrations and I’ve done it as a hobby since high school. However, it’s generally believed, among my family and teachers, that it isn’t a way to make a living, at least here. (I know in Japan it’s different).
I think that today your geographical location is no longer a limitation for working and living as an artist. Thanks to the internet, illustrators and comic artists are able to work anywhere in the world. Of course, to succeed in that you need to develop understanding of how to promote yourself and use the internet as a vehicle to sell your artwork. There are several ways to do it: direct commissions, Patreon, Kickstarter, etc- these are some of the tools you have available.
In the time I have been here in Japan, I have met 4 foreign artists who came to Japan just for fun and curiosity to live in Japan for a while, but actually, they were working for foreign companies or taking commissions from around the globe. If you are able to develop a certain level of performance and recognition, your physical location won't be a restriction anymore.
Parents and teachers can just talk from the things that they have experienced. They want the best for you and it is very natural that they will try to minimize the risk and choose a more secure path. I am not saying the path of the artist is an easy one nowadays, It still requires more passion, effort and commitment than most of the works that are considered to be normal. You may have to be prepared to make many sacrifices, especially during the first years of your professional life.
Actual societies are based on the economical success, anyone who chooses any other path different from maximizing your income is considered to be a fool or nutcase. Take for example artists, sportsman, social volunteers, etc. If they are able to reach a good income, then society's perception suddenly changes and perceives them as a success and as an example to be followed.
If you base your decisions from the security point of view, it is highly probable that you will succeed in reaching certain level of economic confort, but I am not sure if you will find the same level of satisfaction and fulfillment.
2) The general agreement is that if I want to work in anything related to that area, it should be in animation, since it can be easier to find a job.
Animation is a big industry, there are many positions and roles requiring talented people. But, from my personal point of view it is already crowded, and when the offer is bigger than the demand, the quality requirements are very high and the payment tends to decrease (Japan’s anime industry is a good example).
I would suggest you to go to animation only if you feel a strong passion about it. I saw your animations on your website, they are not the standard industry animation but I think they are very original and could be much better if you master some animation techniques. If your keep conscious of your own style, you could develop your skills as an animator without losing your originality by learning from the industry.
Apart from animation, there are many other areas that require visual storytelling like video games, live action films and publicity storyboarding, books and illustrations, toys and products design, etc.
In general, I think there are 3 main options:
Freelancing, by creating original artwork and commissions. This is the most creatively rewarding option out of the 3. Depending on your skills and your fanbase you may have to have other kinds of income sources like part time work, or working for a studio and producing your own stuff in your free time.
Work for a studio. It provides financial security. In exchange, most of the time you won't be able to choose the work you want to do, but you will have to adapt to the studio requirements. It is the closest to have a normal job but still be able to draw and develop your art skills, even when sometimes the work content may not match your personal interests. I think it is really enjoyable when you feel passion about the work the studio is producing.
Have a non-art-related job and develop your art in your free time. Though the less risky path, you probably won't be able to reach your maximum potential as an artist, but you still can have a taste of it and the comfort and dilemmas of a “normal life”.
I think the best option depends of a person's situation and characteristics. There are some things we can change, like habits, skills, etc. but there are other aspects that we may not be able to change, like your age, economic responsibilities, etc.
3) So I’m in a bit of a doubt… I don’t know if I should further develop my studies in order to be able to work in animation, follow the comic book and illustration path, or maybe even find a different area and keep doing those projects as a hobby, I also like IT and technology related projects
If I were you, I wouldn't spend voluntarily a single hour doing something that doesn't mean anything to me, specially if you have no economic dependents.There are several reasons for that, but the most important one is that life is too short to be wasted. Ask yourself, supposing I will die in 1 year from now, which path would I choose?. If your sincere answer is IT, that means you really enjoy it and find it interesting, in that case it is perfect.
But if your answer is not IT and even in that case you think you should pursue the IT path, maybe your thinking is being guided by security or other social issues. Just remember, your life is not your parents’, teachers’ or friends’ life.
I am not suggesting that everyone who enjoys drawing should choose the art path. Of course, there are some considerations each of us should make. Do I have enough talent and commitment? Or is it just a temporary hobby?. In your particular case, I think your profile proves you have the talent, and that you have been doing this for a long time, it is not just a temporary hobby.
Considering your age and artworks, if I were you I would try to do the thing I enjoy the most. If you feel insecure about your talent or commitment, don't worry, just try it. Many times we ignore our real potential until we put ourselves in extreme conditions.
Anyway, if you don't have what is needed, life will hit you in the face and break you down. But at least you will be able to say that you tried with all your heart, that attitude makes a whole difference not only in your artwork but also in your way of living in general. You should only focus on how much and how fast you can develop and improve your skills.
Hope you found it interesting and I will be happy to receive your comments.
Best wishes to everyone
Hola mi nombre es Edo y soy mexicano. Actualmente radico en Japón y he trabajado en la industria de juegos y anime por varios años. Ha sido una gran experiencia que quiero compartir por este medio. Mis aficiones (y en parte trabajo) son el dibujo, CG, juegos, anime y cine.
Hello my name is Edo, I am from Mexico. Currently I am living in Japan. I am a visual creator and I have been working in the game and anime industry in Japan for long time. I like drawing, illustration, games, anime and movies.
Current Residence: Osaka, Japan