Recently I heard this:
"I'm confused about the illustration industry... everyone works alone, everyone spends a lot of time online, no one seems to have a full University Degree in it and it's hard to get paid. Is freelance always seen as free? Don't you get lonely working at home? And why is it so hard to find work as an illustrator?"
After hearing that and having a lengthy discussion, I then had to jot it down for a post. Not only did this make me chuckle a bit but this made me ask questions as well. Looking at your industry from someone else's point of view was odd but very enlightening.
I can see how it would be confusing.
From an outsiders point of view, it seems like a very different and often times insecure industry. Finding work is hard. Getting paid is harder. On top of that, there is a lot work we do daily that we do not get paid for at all. We network all day. We problem solve. We generate ideas 24/7. We work typically alone. There seems to be a lot obstacles to get past in order to get work. Our schools don't exactly prepare all of us for business. We create images for clients in hopes of getting paid and paid fairly. The competition is huge. Many illustrators seem ill prepared for the work world. Clients often seem difficult. It is a constant learning curve.
Come to think of it, we spend a huge amount of time and energy as illustrators. It's more than a job, it's like a well loved creative relationship that needs nurturing, time, effort and lots of attention. I applaud those as well as myself who work in it.
It's not for the weak. It's not for the impatient. And it is certainly not for those not dedicated to it.
That is one way of looking at it but there are great things about it too.
I was asked why I do this every day. My simple answer? Because it's so damn interesting. I need to make stuff. I want to make stuff. As an illustrator, everything is incredibly fascinating wouldn't you agree? Another is the need to create... and to create something either for a client or for myself. The need to creatively grow. The need to do it myself and be my own boss. There is also a huge need to learn daily. Participating in a an endless process is a huge illustration turn on. Basically, it's my creative habit that I grew up with that I want to continue doing for a long, long time to come.