It's a curious thing to me to see so many people ask about how to break into the industry. I may not be a well known name in the industry, but I have my foot in the door and there are some great bits of truth I have discovered in my short journey (mind you I've only being serious about digital illustration since February of this year). Despite my short time in this field, I've suddenly found a pouring of illustration offers coming my way. I am ecstatic. I wish I could post what I have been working on, but know that I have been working hard.
One thing I have found to be true from all of this is that people take your art as seriously as you do. I first came upon this phrase while reading an article on the five fears that can destroy an artist. First and foremost, a serious artist spends some serious time working on art but that alone will not get you work. After building my portfolio, I realized I needed a professional web presence to be competitive. Soon after creating my art website, revitalizing this art blog, and posting on conceptart.org I found illustration offers pouring in. I couldn't believe it. What I gather from this, is that by creating a professional space to showcase my work and declaring myself an illustrator boldly on my homepage (granted I had only done a few personal commission at that point but you have to start somewhere), I showed people that I believed in myself. I also let my family and friends know what I was up to. I wasn't just doing art as a hobby anymore. I was serious about it and working hard. It was an attitude adjustment and people can tell that I have changed. I used to be embarrassed to let my friends see my work. Not anymore. It is what it is and it was time to own up.
That isn't always enough. The next step was getting my website seen. That's where my deviantart account and posting on art forums came in handy. I wrote a journal to let my watchers on deviantart know where to find my work online, but what really has helped me branch and network has been the simple and yet powerful act of posting critics and offering insight on conceptart.org. People were curious about this person they had never heard about. I've always been of the mindset that you have to give a little to get a little. Helping others and cheering at others accomplishments is a win win. By commenting on other people's blogs and taking part in online discussions you become visible. You aren't going to get much traffic by getting your website up and twiddling your thumbs. And you never know who is going to be a good referral. Networking is very important when it comes to this industry. Another great way to get your work seen is to take part in challenges and contests. My work is in the current ImagineFX magazine again for winning the monthly challenge and this time my new website will be printed beside my work. With so many people scouting for new talent such a thing could only help, not hurt.
Now there are even better ways to get your name out there. Putting yourself on networks like elance.com or cloroflot are great ways to get your work shown to potential clients right away. Setting up tables at conventions and meeting people in the industry is also a great way to get your name out there, or so I hear. I want to do this soon, but I simply don't have enough work to sell at this point. It is something I hope to do in the near future however.
So to sum things up, how do you break into the industry? First, make good art, second, create a visible web presence, and third, network. So get out there and make it happen!
Do you have any tips on how to break into the industry?