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19 August, 2005

Illustration Friday: Reflection

Illustration Friday's topic may have expected more of the thoughtful kind, but at least you have to think twice.

08 August, 2005

Get a Mentor

In high school I was privileged to have had a few teachers believe in me enough to offer themselves up as mentors in their respective fields. I was a shoo-in for track, because the coach himself asked me to join the team. The drama teacher stopped me in the hall and told me if I signed up for drama the next year, he would allow me to jump right into his advanced class. My yearbook instructor gave his time up many times to talk to me personally about special projects that he would like me to take on, and he personally tutored me on how to accomplish such tasks. I had a gold mine of resources and years of valuable resources at my disposal to accomplish anything I wanted in high school.

Youth is wasted on the wrong people, at least it was in my case. I rejected every single one of those offers on the idea that they would interrupt my valuable play time after school to be with my friends.

The memory of lost opportunities is painful, but the pain has been very useful to my career and family life. Through the many years since school, I have grasped at every opportunity to learn from more experienced and talented people. Currently, I have been presented with such an opportunity. With my employment at Insect Lore, I am in daily contact with a man that has decades of experience in toy design and marketing. Marc has spent hours pruning and weeding my talents, and I feel like I'm regaining the many years of lost opportunity. It has humbled me, exasperated me, and revitalized me, and I'm immensely grateful for the energy and time he has spent on my account.

"Marcs" don't come along every day, unfortunately. So I've listed a few ways to find mentors to help advance your career as an artist.

Art Biz Coach
Alyson Stanfield is an artist's coach with 14 years of art business experience under her belt. She knows the ins and outs of promoting yourself as an artist, and she generously shares her knowledge. You can hire her as a personal consultant, or sign up for her free weekly newsletter (you'll love it!) She mainly works with fine artists who want to exhibit their work in galleries, but her insight is valuable for illustrators as well.

Picture Book Junkies
Artist critique groups are wonderful as well. This group of talented ladies put their pride on the line for the other ladies in the group to critique their work, and they are better for their efforts. They each have personal business experiences to share, and they realize that a comfortable "Well done" isn't always the best critique to give. Not only have they improved their craft, they've become good friends.

Maybe other artists are looking for a critique group as well. Because of the web, your location doesn't really matter anymore. Find someone who is working in the same genre as yourself, who's work you respect, and ask! Couldn't hurt! I'm not a part of any group, but would love to hear anyone else's insight on how to form one.

Happy illustrating!