I remember one of the illustration teachers in Porto giving us advice along these lines. It was referring to how most professional illustrators also have side jobs to keep the lights on. I’ve heard other illustration professionals like SVSLearn’s Will Terry and Jake Parker saying this as well. Do what you need to do, so that you can continue to do art.
I have to admit, when I quit my job last year and decided to switch to a career in art, I was naive to think that I could jump straight into making a full-time living with my art. There were various reasons that I can see now like how I haven’t got the art school education or the connections that an art student would have, and I don’t have a client base. So it’s really no surprise that almost 10 months later, I’m still unable to make a living from illustration. And yeah, my savings are dwindling.
But it’s time to get real. You know, even if I did have the Uni degree and the client base, I probably still wouldn’t be able to live off illustration and art anyway. I mean, if all those professionals are saying the same thing…
So it’s becoming clear what it means when they say: you don’t have to do only one thing.
You want to be an illustrator, an artist, an animator, a designer, a developer, or whatever. That’s great. But you don’t have to do only that one thing. If you learned a marketable skill along the way and need the cash, then use that. There’s no shame. Doing something else alongside your dream job is not failure. And it’s certainly not a sign that you’ve given up on your dream. It’s just the reality of having to pay your bills to get there.
It’s okay to work for profit and not for passion. It’s okay to take up another job in a completely non-creative field. It’s okay to dabble in other projects. It’s even okay to return to your day job.
But you’re doing it with a goal in mind – to keep your creative career going. As long as you don’t make any mistakes that wipe or burn you out of your dream, go for it.
You don’t have to do only one thing.