I’m asked this at least once a day, and I always respond with a variation on the same answer, so here it is for the record: My advice.
Draw every day. Not once a week, not when you feel like it. Every single day. Draw when you’re happy. Draw when you’re sad, or angry, or excited. Draw on every surface you can find with every available tool. Study comics. Read as much as you can, find artists you love and then figure out why you love them. Apply those concepts to your work. Push yourself. If you aren’t satisfied, don’t get frustrated; try something new. Take classes, draw with your friends, show your work and accept constructive criticism. Carry a sketchbook with you at all times. Buy art, make friends with comic artists, show them what you do.
Promote yourself. Put your art online and tag it. Link to it. Send it to artists you respect. If you’re using tumblr, submit your art to every possible relevant blog and get it seen. Make fan art. Try new platforms and social media. Start with single-panel gags, work your way into sequential art. Always want more from yourself. Never get too comfortable.
Above all else, don’t get discouraged. It’s impossible to rid yourself entirely of moments of doubt, but know when to shake them off. Remind yourself how much you want to improve, how much you love to create. Think about the first time that something you drew made someone smile. That’s all it takes. I can’t paint like Alex Ross, I haven’t got the technical skill of Jill Thompson, I can’t colour like Dave Stewart, but I can draw on a post-it note and make my coworkers laugh. And that’s all you need. Webcomics and indie publications are proof that you don’t need a wealth of artistic ability to reach an audience; you just have to connect. Who knows – in ten years, maybe you will be just as good as your favourite artist. They all had to start somewhere, too.
Draw from experience. Draw from your heart. Redraw the same subject a dozen times. Treat yourself to some decent supplies. Never stop looking for inspiration. Never, ever talk down your work in front of anyone, especially yourself. Keep perspective. You will improve, you will develop, so don’t get impatient with yourself. In five years, your art will be better, so get excited for the change instead of being angry with where you are now.
I’ve only been putting my art online for seven months, but I work very hard and I’m proud of myself. It’s taking me to some incredible places. You can do it, too.
Very true, all good advice.
Reblogging for my own safe keeping, I need to remind myself of this all the time.