When I’m at an event or a guest speaker somewhere, there’s one question I get asked the most which is, “how do you break in the business”? I wish I could tell you there was an answer for this one, but really, there isn’t. I’ve mentioned this before, but what I always tell people who are eager to do what they love as a career, is just keep on doing it. Keep on doing it until you get sick of it and you want to quit, then keep on pushing after that. Whatever you do, don’t give up.
It’s difficult to take a hobby that you enjoy doing and make it into a career, because now, you have to WORK at it. That may not be true for everyone, but usually because you want to make it into how you put food on the table, you really do have to work at it now. It’s not something you can just push aside and come back too later. I’ve been there. Taking something that I loved to do and making it into a career.
When I first started out in the comic industry coloring comic books, I had two full time jobs (one of which was more time consuming than the other). But I worked retail management at Crate and Barrel in Chicago (busy store). You’re constantly doing something, running around, stocking and all the fun stuff that comes with retail…lol. But I also was collecting comics years before I started working there and wanted to make “comic books” or art my career. I enjoyed it and wanted to work for myself. I think it was about 8 years earlier I started teaching myself to color digitally. They didn’t have the schools they have now or the YouTube presence they have today. Now you can look up how to do anything basically on YouTube. So I purchased a few CD-Roms (for those of us who remember those…lol) and books (those too) and taught myself. That by itself was a full time job. But I was determined to do it and MAKE it.
In 2009, I got “let go” of the retail job and I was already working fulltime in comics with a company and on my first major professional comic. Years to follow after that I thankfully worked on hundreds of comics (coloring them) from Marvel to indy companies. But now I’ve stared a whole new adventure and the whole process all over again. I was working in comics for years, but it really slowed down, and realized that my passion and heart was in something else…animation. I “let go” of working fulltime in comics and started my new career in animation. It’s been a rocky start, but that’s just all part of it.
You just never know where things are going to lead you. The way I “broke in” may not be the same way someone else you ask broke in. But the biggest take out of this is, never lose sight of your passion. Follow your heart. That is how you will break in. It won’t be overnight, it will take time, maybe even years. But you can’t give up. You may have to work a fulltime job and your career. It may seem difficult and impossible, but believe me, it’s not.
I’m really excited about what my studio has coming out soon. Something different, something unique. This is something I never felt in the comic industry (NOT in a bad way). But I kept reaching for more and wanted the characters to come to life on screen. And now, I’m on my way to making that happen.
Again, DON’T GIVE UP! It’s all just the Job of the Job.