Not finding work is a great start !
#1
Hey ! I just wanted to share an observation i had between my friends who started working as freelancers and my buddies who are still preparing for freelance, here on daggers. I write this because I hope that you would actually find encouraging and would help you not to be too hard on yourself.

For the past few years of being here, I've seen many people who I thought were  not ready at all to freelance, but actually started doing it  and after few years of freelancing they become pretty good at what they do and their portfolio turned out great.

In comparison I've seen many people here, who I thought were ready or already freelancing, however they weren't freelancing and spend the following months/ years studying and posting in their sketchbooks  , while preparing to launch their career.

Since I've stayed in touch with both sides and I followed their work for the upcoming years. What surprised me was that  my freelancing friends who i felt weren't ready to work (but did) were improving at a faster rate, than my buddies who  had waay more free time and studied, preparing for the job. Why is that tho?

What I realized was that in the beginning my freelance friends couldn't find any jobs and that really, really sucks. Like I'm gonna be honest , everybody takes it really personally, get really insecure , after several let downs wants to quit art etc.   But that's actually a good thing - Not finding work is a great start ! - In the beginning everybody starts like this, actually getting rejected is the most vital part of finding work afterwards.


This year I was like this as well, from a environment/hard surface concept artist who worked on movies and used mainly 3D, Photobashing and painting I switched to 2D Character design  and drawing, after I spend 1 year off to study anatomy.

What kept me going though rejections was this quote(im butchering a bit) by Stanley Kubrich " You cant allow yourself to be feel frustrated/ overwhelmed , because this just adds another distraction on your path."

So here is my personal example  :

I applied to few places and did art test's for exactly that- 2D character art and I got rejected.

 At some places my portfolio got rejected because I showed my finished work, but not my design process which got me that final stage of my finished work - I stopped what I was doing and worked on that until I fixed it.

At some places I got rejected, because they liked my art test - design wise and also when it comes to technical abilities like - drawing, rendering etc. but I haven't shown enough variation. I felt bumbed but -  I stopped what I was doing and worked on that until I fixed it.

At the moment I'm happy to say I got my first job as a character artist, however failing didn't stop there hah. Oh boy, was the first month hard.... on my first design I made some mistakes (design wise) which i had to fix fast because I had a bunch of other designs for that month and an unmovable deadline, next week  the same - I didnt made the last mistake from before , but had a problem with not following the brief as close as I cloud - that took some extra time, same with next design making a new mistake (but being sure I haven't made the ones from before) . After all the work was done for that month I felt like altho failing and making mistakes sucks its like enlarging your visual library , but not with reference and design, but with designer mistakes/problems. To be honest this stage really sucks , but you cant dodge it or skip it. The point is to go though it as fast as possible. This cost me a lot , I worked on weekends, almost burned out, had no time for anything etc. but the job was done and the client was happy.

Ok, so far my argument had to do with being ok with rejection and its better than studying on your own, because with being rejected from jobs, the client's points at what you need to focus on, , while if you study on your own - you study what you feel like studying - imagining that's what clients want.

I also mentioned that failing never stops even when you already got the job and you just need to be patient and to know that you cant skip that part, the point is to go though it as fast as you can - because that phase really sucks.


My third and new argument why you improve faster on the job is that  - You literary have no choice. When a task is given, no matter how uncomfortable or hard it is you have to do it, because a lot of things are at stake - your job, your income etc. So what you do is really push yourself, you work extra hours ( i did on weekends as well) you try out solutions you never would otherwise , you are just desperate to nail the design, because if you don't everything else goes to shit as well. It is a really crappy situation to be in, but I feel like this is where I improved the most - technically and design wise . Why this cant be simulated when you do stuff for yourself is that sometimes it get's soo hard, you just want to quit  and almost always - you will. When you are on a job, you have no choice but to solve the problem and the client wouldn't let you to turn a shitty design, so its a constant battle and in order to win it you have to be really innovative with the skills you have and search for new solutions on the spot.   - When you do this enough, things start to get easier, but also you feel more comfortable as a designer. To be honest I did this twice - once with photobashing and 3d concept art and once with 2D character designs. I learned and improved while solving the designs in the job for 1 to 3 months than I did while studying on my won for months/years.


So that's what I encourage you guys and girls who don't feel you are ready,  try it out, because you really cant skip the failing part, failing to find a job, then failing an art test, then failing on a design in the job, then destroying yourself to fix it. My advice is to get though that as  fast as possible , because it really sucks haha



So my point is that I suck, you suck,my art heroes suck! Everybody sucks!  But people don't talk about it because it embarrassing, nobody wants to be seen as a failure or less in the eyes of others.

 You have to realize this and go forward, because otherwise you end up in a limbo/hell where you failed and you are afraid to do anything, which makes you live in constant regret, the only way getting out of it is keep trying and improving until it works- because if you do it enough it will. So basically you only failed if you gave up.

My advice is instead of constantly studying on your own, apply for random jobs on deviant art, discord servers or something bigger, if you don't get accepted - ask the client why , talk to friends who do similar jobs and ask them for feedback, then work on your stuff and repeat until it works. I think this takes way shorter time , than preparing on your own for work, because regardless how many years you spend preparing  , you are gonna face in the begining what i wrote above.

I hope this helps some of you , it helped me, thats why I'm sharing it. Good luck !

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#2
Awesome article Mariyan! You're becoming hell of a good writer :P
As a freelancer who started out learning art on Daggers, I agree on everything

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#3
Thank you for writing. It's always best to hear from someone with practical experience.
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