Thursday, October 29, 2009

Irony and the rookie freelancer

So I'm busy with some freelance work and polishing off my portfolio to be ready in a couple weeks when I go to the fantasy art convention:

I'm really looking forward to this convention, as it will hopefully be the springboard to making me feel like and actually be a full-time freelance fantasy artist. I'm sure to get energized meeting the other artists and getting inspired by the works of the best in the field.

One of the major aspects of these conventions is that new artists get to sit down and have portfolio reviews with the industry's top art directors, who are constantly looking for new talent to bring to their products. Suffice to say, this is often the 15 minutes in a new artist's year that he can make or break career momentum. You have to stand out, with both quality and professionalism, from the other 100+ artist who get their 15 minutes.

Now a funny thing happened today... as I'm sitting here roughing out an image for the portfolio I get an e-mail from the particular art director who I am most keen to meet and impress. I'm offered two images of the exact type of work that I'm putting all this effort towards! Now for the funny part (not)... At a quick glance, the assignment looks somewhat intensive, and the timeframe is pretty short to fit in to my schedule, considering I'll be travelling for a week to this conference right away. With an eye to ensuring quality and being careful that I manage the early stages of my relationship with this particular person, I request to take on one of the two images offered. I send the e-mail off in response, feeling great that I'm getting the exact work that I'm gearing for. A few minutes pass, and I get the Art director's response: he'd rather not split the job up and he'll get another artist to do it. Now I feel really stupid. I inadvertantly pass up my perfect job; being too careful and not mindful of the director's needs. The irony is that I'm working on my portfolio to get the work which I pass up because I'm busy working on my portfolio to get the work... Man, what a lesson.

So today I learned likely one of the key points in being a freelance artist (although I'm sure to learn more) DON'T SAY NO. The art director rightly needs an easy, passionate and reliable artist, and its your responsibility as an artist to make priority calls in developing your career. Until you've been around for awhile and are in high demand, do yourself a favour and take all the work... working harder and becoming successful through making smart descisions. I'm going to kick myself for awhile on this.

Anyhow, I started roughing this in today... an old Dragon Age drawing that needed finishing for my convention portfolio. Hey... maybe with a great portfolio, I'll get calls from top art directors... WAITAMINUTE!...


Calydon said...

Hopefully he sees your cautiousness as a sign of professionalism and also, that's heaps better than rushing two jobs and disappointing on either or both.

It's a marathon, not a footrace, in any case, and I have a feeling you'll be at the forefront.

mike said...

thanks, but at the start, it feels crappy to not get out of the blocks fast. only time will tell, I guess...

Jon Schindehette said...

as the AD you said "no" too...don't be so hard on yourself. Seriously!!

The pieces I had a tight timeline, and you had been part of a long list of artists that said "Jon, I'd love to but..." Kerem Beyit said it best though - in a nutshell, he said that he would rather pass on the job than commit himself to a project that might cause him to produce sub-par work. Hey, I respect an artist that would prefer to say "no" than to give me work that might sour me on working for them in the future.

Like Calydon said earlier - it is a marathon.

Look at your decisions as part of a long-term career - not a short-term project.

See you at IlluxCon!

Jon Schindehette
ArtOrder Blog

mike said...

Whew! Great to hear. Thanks.