If I had kids, I’d even caution them about becoming an illustrator and I both love being one and am a huge supporter of people pursuing creative careers.
Discouraging a child from doing something isn’t solely some awful oppression, more often — it’s challenging something that they know if you’re truly passionate and committed about, you’ll find a way to overcome anyways. It’s not wrong of them, they’re encouraging a smart yet safe life-path — and it’s pretty logical that if your kid wants to veer into less stable directions, you provide a healthy opposition. If you’re not all in, them pushing you away is doing you a favor because being an illustrator or succeeding as most any niche profession, is something that demands you being relentless in your pursuit to becoming one. The money is absolutely there, the hardest part about becoming an illustrator/artist isn’t the lack of jobs or lack of opportunity, it’s finding them and even more so: giving them a reason to find you. Your parents may just be uninformed and not realize how increasingly relevant creative jobs like illustration are becoming — but their concern shouldn’t be directed towards the field itself so much as on your willingness to work your absolute ass off to succeed in it. If you’re lucky enough to have your parents get on board eventually, don’t squander that support, and I mean just moral support — monetary being all the more helpful.
Being an illustrator, being an athlete, a musician, a writer, etc. all of these things are fields that are legitimately hard to break into, it’s not they’re bad or low-paying careers, they’re just risky. Of the people I know who’ve wanted to become illustrators or freelance creatives, a very small fraction have done so. It’s a big leap for parents to get behind a kid chasing that dream and the best thing you can do if that support matters to you, is to show them you will work for that dream every step of the way. As for succeeding in college, just work — no secret, just work.
I’ve been encountering statements like this ever since I decided to pursue a career in illustration, and I remind myself that there will always be people met with their own insecurities that just can’t help but project it, so you can’t take that kinda stuff personally. Regardless, it’s always hard when you first start out working toward your goals to hear something like this, especially when you haven’t yet built up the capital to back yourself up.
So when I came back to New York for the fall semester, I swore that by the end of the year, I would obtain as many grants my school offered to help cover my tuition, be mentored by the best in my industry in and outside of school, and land a internship that could help me towards my career in illustration, all while trying to balance work and school.
As of right now, I’m still kind of this stupor of peacefulness because I made good on every single one of these promises to myself.
I earned all but one of several grants my school awards, covering a little more than half of my tuition a year until I graduate. I took classes with some of the best illustrators I highly respect and admire, pushed through and worked tirelessly to better myself creatively artistically under their mentorship and guidance. Learning from their well-intentioned, brutally honest critiques ultimately made the strides I earned with them that more rewarding, and it’s good to have people like that in your life that care enough to want to see you do better; even more so when they believe in your capabilities. I also landed my first internship this year, which was actually my first choice among others, with the Society of Illustrators, keeping me proactive in learning more about illustration and its community outside of school. And while grades are not an indicator on how well you’ll do it your career, there’s a bit of pride in knowing I did this all while still staying on top in school and my job.
These achievements I can look back proudly on were not fueled on wanting to prove someone wrong. These hard-earned accomplishments I met wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for my family, every single person that’s mentored and inspired me, and for my own desire to add some value in this world.
I’m just so excited for what’s to come. The new goals I’ve set include earning scholarships, landing a competitive design internship, obtaining awards in my field, being a mentor to college-bound high schooler’s, and seeing my illustration work published.
For now, I’m just gonna continue to cherish this period in my life I’ve been given to pursue the goals I value, and am confident I’ll accomplish. It’s truly a blessing to wake up everyday working towards something I love that’s worth sharing, and having people in my life that work as hard as I do that extend that love and energy to me.
"The hard work,the times when you’re tired,the times where you’re a bit sad.. In the end, it’s all worth it because it really makes me happy and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else in the world. I’ve got good friends, I’ve got a beautiful family, and I’ve got a career. I am truly blessed, and I thank god for his blessings every single chance I get.”
Bits of home.