I knew this conversation was bound to happen sooner or later. A full time government job just opened up where my friend works, and Matt is urging me to apply. He says its just ”temporary”, but…. I dunno, its never really temporary. If I take a year off on my dreams of finding work on my field to…
Yeah no don’t worry there’s no shame in getting a day job till the art job works out. At least I sure hope there isn’t. I’ve been at the same non-art job for 3 years now following my graduation from art school, soul-sucking full-time office job at a state university. But all it really means is you just have to figure out how to use the free time you have better. (Which I have still not figured out in three years, mind you)
Taking a day job only means failure if you completely stop doing art in the meantime~ * -* Not everyone is lucky / networked enough to get art work immediately out the gate. I’m finding more and more that that is an unusual thing. Some of the people I look up to the most had to do something else in the meantime while working up to the art job. You have to do what you have to do to survive, there’s no getting around that, but if you keep at it, you’ll be able to do the full-time art thing in time, I’m sure of it!
I’ve gotten a lot of private notes about graduates and the struggle to find work. And I’ve told them all essentially what garagoose is saying. Never feel bad about getting a day job. You need to survive. You need some sense of stability. And sometimes, the market just isn’t ready for you, or you don’t quite know a skill you need to get out there.
I graduated in 2009, when the recession hit. Only one of my seven friends had a stable, full-time art job out of college. I didn’t find an art job for another two years, working at Gamestop, Toys R Us, and Radioshack, while filling it with spotty art contract work in the meantime. I got my first full-time job (with no benefits) in 2011, got my first salaried job in 2012, got my first job with actual benefits in 2012 (like health insurance). Now, 5 years after graduation, I am starting a job at EA as an environment artist.
This is not intended as braggy (;_; sry), but rather that… while it is significantly harder to find work post-college (especially in art), you still have a chance even 3 years out, and you are in no way alone. It’s a really scary almost self-fulfilling prophecy—you need to improve your artwork and make new projects, but since you can’t find work, you feel like a bum and get depressed, which makes it harder to improve your artwork and make new projects.
And the worst is when nobody responds back to you. It’s one thing to be told ‘no’—it’s another to send out hundreds of applications and hear nothing but silence, because you don’t know what you’re doing wrong.
Sorry I’m getting rambly. Either way, please hang in there. Yes, you might need to get a ‘day job,’ you may even need to lie and leave off your qualifications when you apply (I had to). ;_; But like Garagoose said — you’ve only failed if you’ve given up drawing completely. And that’d be tragic. D:
ANYWAY UH HERE ARE SOME RESOURCES so this can almost be like a tutorial maybe I guess?????
While working a dayjob and still struggling to find a ‘real’ job in the field of art (and sorry if you’ve tried any of these already, I don’t mean to sound condescending. D: It might be resources that help any of my other followers as well):
- Take on paid contract work. Since self-publishing has gotten easier, there are a lot more singular individuals seeking artists to make cool stuff. I used Craigslist a lot to pick up spotty random contracts. Most of them did not pay well, but it was experience I could use to pad my resume.
- If you’re up to it, you COULD take unpaid work, but I would not recommend it. While it’s stuff you can use on your resume (I actually did several unpaid gigs starting out), at the same time you’re better off starting your own projects.
- Speaking of that — we as artists are TERRIBLE at considering anything we do for personal projects as “real work.” Stoppit! If you, say, work on a webcomic… Put that shit on your resume, ESPECIALLY if you handle it all by yourself. Not only are you doing all the drawing grunt work, you’re also writing and managing websites. Even if you work on a team—you’re collaborating in a group environment to produce a product. That is A+ what people are looking for. My own webcomic is on my resume, and on my linkedin.
- There are a lot of ‘art’ jobs that artists turn their nose at. Don’t. Stuff like artwork for slot machines, greeting cards, or even UI work is stuff I’ve actually heard people not consider ‘real’ art. Who gives a shit—you’re drawing, and it gets you paid, AND it’s experience. WMS is hiring artists (Chicago location), as is Multimedia games (with relocation to Austin!). My old company is also hiring to fill my position of 2D artist/UI artist (note — the job is unlisted currently. Apply anyway). There’s always a bunch of listing for UI artist as well.
- If you see a lot of jobs that have a requirement that you don’t have, try to gain it on your own time. I didn’t start getting hired until I learned Illustrator, for example.
- And finally — there is ABSOLUTELY no weakness in ‘settling’ into a career, even if it isn’t directly related to what you want. One of my friends — one of the seven, even, that graduated with me — found out he was better suited to programming than art. He started at an inbetween (UX work) and is now a full-fledged programmer. He has the exact same degree I do, and he’s happy with what he does. And he STILL uses his art skills! Another one of my art friends did the same—he now works as an engineer at Amazon, despite his art degree.
I’m sorry this is so long, but I’ve gotten more watchers who might not know this. Please, if you need help on where to go, don’t hesitate to contact me. I can’t get you all jobs — and I’m very sorry for that, I wish I could — but I CAN provide you advice.
Stay strong, but remember — you need to live. That comes first.
p.s. — sorry uh as an addition: if you’re too shy to contact me (I understand!), but still want some reference as to how the fuck to set up a portfolio website or resume, this is my professional portfolio website. It’s what I used to get my current job.