Starting Out On Your Own

November 16, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

In my short time as a freelancer, I have had a few persons approach me about starting out on their own in the creative world. Often times it's a broad question that needs a bit more focus to get an answer that makes sense for the individual. So before all the branding ideas, marketing tips, and the infamous buying guide for expensive creative tools, a person needs to define their path as clearly as possible. Here I'll share a few tips on making this process easier. Think of the following as more of an inspirational article than a how-to guide.

1. What Are You Really Interested In?

No doubt many who are thinking about being involved in the creative industry have some degree of experience in making art, even if it was only kindergarden finger painting. Also they may even have a strong sense of what makes great art or design. However when it comes to actually identifying what you are really interested in, it can be pretty vague. So it's good to think about what motivates you and ask yourself frank questions like:

  • "I enjoy viewing a good painting, but do I really have the desire to master the needed skills?"
  • "Am I more interested in the business of art appreciation than making art?" 
  • "I love photography, but really what is it that motivates me to take pictures?" 
  • "What aspect of design I find most moves me to be creative?"

I'm sure those questions should get the gears turning in your head and if you are honest with yourself in answering these and other questions you could think of, the next suggestions are far easier to identify.

2. Where can I learn more about what I'm interested in?

People, and the internet. Easy enough? Maybe to say, but this only helps if you already have a sense of direction. Imagine walking into a huge library (kids, it's a ancient building that stored books on all sorts of topics; the manual internet if you will), now imagine if you didn't have a subject in mind to search for- you'll be there a very long time scouring all the shelves and soon get discouraged and gain nothing. It's the same with finding the right info you need, everyone has info but it's only useful if you know what you need it for. After all that, finding what you need gets easier and you'll get a better sense of who you need to speak to and what to get involved in. Your time is precious so don't spend it on a whim.

As a bonus... don't look to piers for instruction. they are on the same step of the ladder as you. Find the most experienced and the very best to learn from, whether in person or on the inter-webs, then practice what's taught. Duplicate, then innovate.

3. Great, so I NEED all this stuff to get started. What do I do?

Start with what you got. Don't worry about what you don't have, Talent is only expressed in skill which needs to be developed in spite of material limitations or excess. Often limited resources ignites our creativity and we may discover alternate solutions to our creative needs. So learn the basics, master the fundamentals, become skilled in observation and noticing the design found in everything. The tools are useless absent such a mind.  For example, it's very apparent in the graphic design world when we see poor layouts, bad color palettes, tired typography, etc. and many creatives from other fields could make huge lists of such experiences. However, master the craft, and as you go the tools will come and you'll grow. In the meantime use whatever resources you can access and if you develop your talent the right people will notice.

A note about technology. In my experience as a illustrator and photographer, the technology is playing catch up to me, never the other way around. These tech-companies are trying to mimic or make easier what I can already do naturally if I used traditional tools, so don't hedge your skills on technology.

I found this video from Fstoppers about success in photography and any field in general which I think is great in helping you be motivated to define your own success. Check it out.

This kind of topic could become a very long discussion but this blog post is meant to get you, the reader who wants to get going in art, to get going. In the future there'll be more on this topic but for now I hope this helps you to examine yourself and what path you wish to take.


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