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Full Version: Spreading too thin or gaining valuable experience?
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Hi Daggers,

I haven't participated in any communities in a while during these last couple of years, and I could really use some of your input, so I guess now is a good a time as any to stop lurking and post for a change.

I went into university to study illustration and design (but mainly for future visa potential), and I've been working full-time since last year in animation, basically learning the skills from scratch. I live in South Africa, and the industry here is pretty small - there is not much room for specializing and so creatives have to gain a very broad and general knowledge of different things in order to be able to hold down a job (mostly). Since I started working I've had to learn many new things ranging from 3D animation to motion graphics to cartoon characters. Ideally I'd love to be doing freelance illustration, but that is not financially viable.

I've been wanting to move away since I was 12, and I have an opportunity where I might be able to move to Moscow as soon as next year to try my luck in VFX there, but I'd have to spend a lot more time working on refining my knowledge of Nuke and general compositing. The problem I am having is that I'm getting to a point where not drawing as much has been very distressing to me, and so I've been setting aside a couple of hours a day lately for extra painting/drawing after I get home from work, but it's not always consistent and my skills have definitely suffered.

Is it possible to achieve both? I enjoy compositing, but I still want to keep learning and getting better at illustration. By trying to take on both do I risk a heavy burnout? Right now I work 50 hours a week, and excercise 3 times a week, as well as take on freelance jobs every now and then. By the time I've had a shower and made dinner I am exhausted, and art has started to feel like a hindrance or yet another kind of chore on top of the other stuff.

I feel like there must be a way to make it work, and art has always been my first passion and what I hope to end up doing one day. Would carrying on in a slightly different direction help me or hurt me?

Your feedback would be greatly appreciated!
The longer you stay in vfx, thats where you will probably end up. Since you enjoy the task now its
a matter of evaluating if its a field for you or illustration would be more suited.

The point Im trying to make is that your environment shapes great deal of your life,
and you have to be choosy with your environment, or else you run in the risk to end up
being a goose in a chicken flock and end up very unhappy.

Its probably good idea for you to do lots of evaluating who you are as a person and then
move to those people who are similar in nature.
Same goes for work environment and place you want to live in and profession you take.
read, listen, draw and learn. Do anything to keep yourself motivated you have huge source - internet.

I've similar experience, to work as an artist in my country I also had to have broad knowledge from design, printing and publishing through 3d and animation to illustration that I love the most. Having a broad experience will not hurt your main passion. I feared on one point that focusing on something different than illustration will stop my development but in retrospection I was still improving.

If you feel that you are exhausted make some break and enjoy it. You don't need only to draw to improve, read a book, listen to podcast about art, watch tutorials. Organize your time to perfection. Doing same things at same hour everyday will make you feel less tired. 50 hour a week is a lot so don't punish yourself for not being able to work much on your own stuff. Take advantage of any opportunity that show up :)
Thank you for the replies!

Topliner, you hit the nail on the head - I'm worried that I'll get stuck in one industry, been holding myself back by saying "it's temporary". On the other hand, it's my best chance right now to leave this country so I'm glad for hearing the other side from Madzia.

Would it be better to stay and try work towards more drawing sooner but run the risk of being stuck in a country I am unhappy in, or move elsewhere as I've been wanting to and trade off some time for potentially better opportunities? Unfortunately moving in with family and taking the time I need isn't really an option.
Heres the bottom line:

If your not happy with where you are, you're no place at all.

i think thats from a movie or something, but the point is that being somewhere you are not happy is worse than being someplace where you might be, especially when that other place might be more beneficial than where you are now.

If I were in your shoes I would take this opportunity to move. You might not have another opportunity like this in the future. You might not be spending as much time as you want to be drawing, but at least you're doing something that's still somewhat relevant to your field, and you will probably meet like-minded people and learn from them. You might even find better opportunities for illustration over there.

Have you watched the crimson conversation with Kekai Kotaki? His story is really interesting. He basically started as a texture artist for a game company (not where he wanted to be), spent a lot of his free time getting better at drawing, and eventually worked his way up to being the lead concept artist at that company. Case in point, if you REALLY want to be in illustration, you will make it happen. It took Kekai many years, but look where he is now :)
Thanks Beardley, I'm listening to the interview now :)