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Full Version: Starting a bit late. should I just stop?
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Hello there!

Sorry for the bad english in advance but its not my first language...

I`m Ben, new to this forum and new to all this... I can see what this forum is all about and I really apreciate the stuff going on here. I have some personal questions: I am 23 with very little drawing experience, could I start now and become someone who will `work` as an artist? Is it to late to pick up the craft and should I just stop?

Now I know I need to explain myself a little, so I`ll just start with the beginning. In high school I did not study art extensively (had a couple of introductory classes, nothing too serious). This was because I did not go to a specialized art school, I had the chance, I tried, I passed the drawing exam but my pricipal back then missplaced some paperwork and I missed turning them in for the deadline (luck or fate? I may never know)... I would have had the chance to transfer mid semester, but by then many people (including my parents) told me that I should just stick to the high school was accepted cause it will be hard to get a job as an artist later on, especially in my country (Romania). So I did not transfer, and I kinda left drawing as a `hobby` which then became just a memory of `i liked to do that`. I liked drawing, painting, sketching and anything related to art sice I was a small child, my uncle is an artist, he paints oil paintings and has an unique style specific in my hometown, but he never encouraged me either to pursue a career in this as he didn`t as well, he just does it for hobby now. My dad liked oil painting as well, he had some good paintings, he wanted to be an artist and probably helped me to develop that `thirst` to became an artist, but as I said, that was until high school. My hometown (Baia Mare), was a hub for artists and painters in the 19th century, so that puts more sourness in me as I know that I was born in a relatively good place for art.

I left for college, studied administration and geography (urban planning and digital mapping), now at masters degree in geomatics, however it`s not intensive, teachers are not good, they don`t encourage us to learn this field, not to mention that if I finish my studies there is 0 guarantee that I will get a job in this field... Yeah, education in Romania sucks bigtime, I would like to go abroad, live there, study, but I just don`t have the money. I need to get a job to support myself as I can`t count on my parents forever. All in all I realised that I strayed from my path long time ago and this is not what I would necessarily like to do. I want to draw, make concept art, maybe even get into 3D as I am a big movie/video games fan. I know jobs are limited there, and an artist can`t make a lot of money unless he is really good, but I would be willing to try, cause I can fail at something I don`t like to do, so why not do something that I like to, even if I fail? I searched around the internet, got myself some learning materials, I got really inspired by Noah Bradley and his `Don`t go to art school` article. I can see now that going to art school is not a big problem nowdays, but then: can I start now and achieve something or should I just keep it as a hobby? I don`t know if this realization is just ` period` I am going trough, but answering the omnious questions ` what would you like to do day and night for the rest of your life?` or `what feels good to do and wouldn`t be considered a job for you?` - art comes in to my mind fist, every time.

Also if it`s not too late to do it as a job, what are the first and main steps I should focus on? Fist learning, get the basics, develop my style, assemble a portofolio, doing some freelance stuff? I don`t really need to begin from scratch with the learning as I know some basic stuff, but then again I am still an `amateur`.

Sorry if I bored you with all that, but I feel that I am really at a turning point in my life, if I miss out the opportunity now, I may regret it again all my life as I did until now with high school.

Any advice would be much appreciated! Thank you!
Well, first of all, welcome <3, I hope you have a fun time here. Now let's get to the thing:

NO, IT'S NEVER TOO LATE, let me say that again for anyone else reading this, FUCKING NEVER, as long as you have at least 1-2 years of life ahead of you, an internet connection and materials (pencils, tablet etc.) it's never too late. I don't know where this idea comes from but the time you have to put in to become a pro are the same no matter if you start painting when you are 5 or when you are 65 (diseases and life experiences aside of course).

First study yeah, depending on how hard you work you'll most likely do nothing but study for at least a year. If your style comes naturally while you study then great, but don't obsess over it, at least until you feel like you really need one to stand out. First thing I'd recommend is, listen to every stream with talks that Dave, Dan, Anthony Jones (mainly the ones in his livestream account) and old bobby chiu(they are in his youtube account), that should give you a basic idea of how to study, what the industry is like etc, as well as guides on how and when to make a portfolio, how to show it and how to start getting work and your other questions; listen to them while you are drawing, Scott Robertson and Sycra have good videos too.

I don't want to get too deep into this because you'd rather listen to the pros that I've mentioned; and pretty much all the information you need is there, of course you can ask other professionals if you catch them treaming and here in daggers and other forums.
Also check out the old sketchbooks that show the full development of great artists such as, dave rapoza, sam carr, algenpfleger, mindcandyman, miles johnston etc, seriously, do it ;).

This that I'd say you need to remember during your journey.
-Stay motivated, discipline is 100% necessary but try to stay motivated as much as possible, write down the games or artists that inspired to you start drawing right now, write them down so you don't forget.
-Nobody can tell you how to study best, they can make suggestions that might be right and might help you a lot, but don't 100% follow what others tell you without thinking about it.
-Don't study for studying sake, study specific things because you are trying to understand them, and make sure you are actively absorbing information while you study.

And lastly

-Hard work, that's pretty much the biggest one, this is hard, I'm not saying you'll be depressed or you'll feel like you'll never make it (I've heard it happens to some people), but the skill gap will sometimes feel too large, don't worry about it, persevere, just keep working constantly, you'll get there. Keep the things that motivate you close and find new ones too.

And about style, it basically comes from implementing things that you like into your art that you may have found in other artists' work, shows, movies, real life etc. Just stay inspired, try new things all the time in your sketches and it should come naturally

Just wanna add 1 more thing, it's true that if your goal is clear you'll get there faster, for example, if you want to do humanoid medieval fantasy characters for console jrpgs, that's pretty specific, and easier to get to, BUT, don't close doors, the thing that you thought you wanted to do might not be what you realy enjoy the most, try everything that seems fun, storyboards, animation, creatures, characters, environments...
I really apreciate that you took the time to write all this down for me. It means much! Thanks, I will certainly have in mind all what you wrote!
Gliger mostly nailed it really. I would add a couple of things.

You are still an artist whether you do it as a professional or just do it "as a hobby". There is no distinction, even though a billion people out there will tell you there is. In fact I would even go as far as to say the hobbyist is probably more in touch with doing things for their own enjoyment and the core reason for doing art than a professional who has to think about markets and audience and revenue and other ultimately unfulfilling and distracting things.

This brings us to the other point. Whatever and however you pursue your creative urge you should be doing it for yourself first, foremost and forever. The external recognition and marketing and all that other bullshit will need to happen at some point in order to go pro, but always keep your enjoyment of the process sacred and foremost in your aim. Also cultivate and learn to listen to yourself...really listen to yourself, not what others say you should do, be it with art or life in general. The more you are aware of your own motivations, the more you will be able to act in a manner that is ultimately fulfilling to you. Just because everyone says you need to have a pro job as a concept artist for movies before you have made it, doesn't mean it is true. Trust your own instinct.

And to make you feel better, I started the journey seriously when I was about 34, and was fucking around aimlessly for about 3 years before that, all the while I was working full time in a non art related job. I am now 38. I haven't "made it" yet, not that I think that's a good measure of success at all, but I can see light at the end of that particular tunnel. If I can do it, you can do it. Just follow your own gut and don't listen or get swayed by what all the community of (let's be honest) copycats is currently doing. Find your own vision and trust it. Welcome to the journey, settle in, and enjoy the ride.
That last part really hit me Amit, thank you very much for sharing this! I will look back at what you guys wrote here every once in a while, especially if I stray too far and I will feel lost.
No worries Ben! It is a hard thing to get over your own fears and the ticking of the clock. Incidentally if you haven't seen it already, you will probably get a lot out of this thread:

Ticking Clock

There are a lot of stories of a bunch of people including myself, on our own journey and struggle. It is a brilliant thing to read through to know you are not alone. And on a personal note, I am always up for a chat if you need someone to talk to about the whole thing, I love helping others who are going through what I and many other self learners go through.