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anonymous asked:

I'm currently in highschool and I'm thinking about becoming a professional digital illustrator after I graduate, do you have any tips or advice about becoming a professional artist? Thank you and I love your art!

Wow, that’s a loaded question. First of all, I’m 19. I’m still in art school. I am barely a professional. Please take anything I say with a grain of salt.

Since you’re in high school and probably preparing yourself for college, I can speak to that. The #1 piece of art advice I can give you is to draw every single day. Draw constantly. ALWAYS have a sketchbook on you. Do studies, draw from life, start compiling folders of reference images. If you have a phone, take your own reference pictures, too.

If you’re looking to go to art school or even an art program at a regular university, you’re going to need to put together a portfolio. Every school will be different in terms of number of pieces, what they like to see, requirements, etc, so you will probably have a different portfolio for each school. Some schools like to see a lot of realism/stuff drawn from life, some want to see that you’re creative/imaginative. Some schools don’t want to see your digital art whereas others actively encourage showing mastery of digital tools. Some want to see process/sketchbook pages, others don’t. With that in mind, do your research. Try to find portfolios that were accepted. Read submission rules carefully. Go to portfolio review days if you can. Even better, visit the schools you want to go to and talk to an admissions counselor– you can schedule reviews with them. Remember that the order of your portfolio is important, too (don’t put all of your best pieces first, don’t end with a weaker piece, etc.). Quality will always be better than quantity– a portfolio with ten amazing pieces is better than one with twenty decent ones. A common thing I tend to see in successful portfolios is a strong narrative or overarching theme. Do your illustrations tell a story? Are your pieces somehow thematically related? Reviewers LOVE seeing explorations of different themes in your work. For example, my old portfolio (which you can see here, I added or removed some pieces based on the school I was applying to*) was loosely focused on dreamscapes/unreality. Reviewers want to see your personality reflected in your work. Presentation is important. Make sure all your files are at least 300 dpi. If you’re presenting it physically, put it in a nice binder. In terms of medium, colleges want to see both mastery and experimentation– they want to see that you’re versatile and also using materials in unexpected and interesting ways (for example, everyone raved about that one 3D papercut piece in my portfolio, saying they had never seen anything like it). Don’t put anime, fanart, drawings of your fave youtuber, etc. in your portfolio. DON’T DO IT. Keep in mind that the reviewers have to look at thousands and thousands of portfolios. What’s going to make yours stand out? Know your strengths and play them up. If you have to give the title and statement about a piece, BE CREATIVE. Make it memorable and interesting. Get as many eyes on your work as possible. Definitely apply for scholarships (a great portfolio gets you more money). Some schools offer summer camps, definitely do those if you can (if you live in the South, I highly recommend SCAD Summer Seminars). Applying to an art program is a very difficult, grueling process, but hang in there. It’ll be worth it. As for advice on becoming a professional, well, that’s where school comes in ;)

(And if I’m totally off-base and you’re not planning on going to school, that’s okay too. That’s just a totally different long-winded answer.)

I’d like to go into more detail about all of this, but I’d need to know more about your situation. If you feel comfortable messaging me off anon, I’d be happy to talk to you about it further.

*And just so you know that I’ve had a lot of experience with this, I used that portfolio to apply to SCAD, Pratt, SVA, SAIC, MICA, MECA, and UNC Charlotte. I was accepted to all of them and was offered the highest tier of scholarship money (next to a full ride) from all the art schools. I ended up going to SCAD.