50% Business 50% Art

Hey guys.

So I was talking with a new illustrator friend yesterday, she's only a few years out of college.  I started getting overly excited (as I always do) when we started talking about whether illustration is a viable career.

I basically went into a rant with my views on the subject, then realized I was being really negative, which is not only the opposite way I choose to see the world, it's not how I really feel about commercial art.

After the dust settled, I realized what I was actually trying to say, and it sort of uncovered a core value of mine: if you want to be a commercial artist of any kind, and you want to thrive financially (commercial) through making creative work that's fulfilling (artist) you have to be both a business person and an artist.

Not only that, but my observation is this: the really successful ones are just as passionate about business as they are art.

I have this weird mashup of desires and interests. Makes sense, my dad (like Drake) started from the bottom and now is one of the top executives at a Fortune 500 company, and my mom is a very talented artist (although sadly like many ultra creative people, that don't figure things out, has lead a tragic life).

So I'm a really weird mix breed. And I love it. I didn't always know it either.

I used to think business was equivalent to math or accounting. It's not. It's strategy, vision, planning, marketing and so much more.

What am I saying? I'm saying that if you want to be a commercial artist of any kind (especially a freelance one) and your only concern is "fulfilling creative work", maybe you should do something else for a living and do the creative work on the side OR at least be part of a team where you're not responsible for as much of the "business side". For me, half of the joy of art is from getting people to pay for it!

In fact! I've seen many successful commercial artists tht don't care so much about the art, but love the business. On the other side I know many many very passionate and extremely talented artists, that don't like the business side, who ultimately fail!

If you're not sure if you like business, before you give up, go explore the creative side of business and see if you start to enjoy it.

If you would have told me 10 years ago that I mostly read business books and articles over art related reading I'd never believed you! 

One last disclaimer: if you don't mind being broke, you can pursue your art above business and if you're amazingly talented and you fight for long enough (sometimes 10-20 years) you may eventually have a big break. BUT I think it's the exception to the rule, and it's really really risky to plan on being the exception.

So I've said my side, what do you think? Is this true?