Since a few people have asked for my advice recently on ‘how to succeed’, / what I did to get to ‘where I am’. I figured that perhaps I was in some position to try and put some advice into words in the form of this blog post. I am by no means saying that I am an expert on the subject of success, or that I have ‘made it’. But what I do know, is that if I could go back and speak to my younger, just-graduated self, I would definitely have a few words of wisdom. At the same time, I also don’t want to belittle how far I have come. I barely know anyone else that has continued to draw/design as much as I have since graduating, never mind make it their full time job, which was my main aim that I have now succeeded in accomplishing.
So, if that intrigues you enough to think that this could be useful/ of interest to you, please do keep reading and hopefully some of my words will resonate with you and your goals.
A couple of things to note to begin with are:
1. This is only my advice, so please take it with a pinch of salt. I think it is a good idea to take advice from a range of people/ sources and from there make your own decisions. These may be things that have worked for me, but everyone, and every career is so different so my advice should be tailored as necessary.
2.Whilst most of what I am going to say I have thought about a lot and truly believe is important right now, it is possible I may look back and feel quite differently in months/ years to come. Overall, I think the story of success is a forever-changing one, and it is for certain not something you can read in a book, or a blog for that matter, but please keep reading nonetheless! Think of this as a starting point/ words of encouragement in the right direction, or a nudge to help you figure out what the right direction might be for you.
Ok, in no specific order, set out below are a few key points that I think are key to your success:
I’m pretty sure I have said this before, and I will say it again, but if you don’t truly believe in yourself, then it is unlikely that anyone else will. Perhaps a little harsh, but you need to exude the confidence that you know you are capable and therefore others are a whole lot more likely to buy into it / support you and what you are trying to do.
Try and figure out exactly what it is that you want to do. I know this sounds basic, but in the world we live in today there are SO many distractions and social medias bla bla bla trying to pull you in different directions, get you to buy this, do that, go here! It is crazy and can often leave you feeling confused about what you actually want. I would recommend making TIME to be alone, go for a walk or just sit somewhere quiet and really think about what it is you want / what you want to do / be. From here, it is a whole lot easier to then create steps towards your end goal. On a side note from that however – it is quite likely that what you want to do may naturally change/ progress, so be open to adapt to this and continue to go back and re-assess it to be super clear that you are still heading in the direction that you want to be. I always wanted to be a painter and then I went to Art College and ended up studying textiles. Then, after working as a textile designer for a while, despite it being an invaluable experience, it made me realise that it wasn’t actually what I wanted to do. Looking back, I think I always wanted to be a fashion illustrator, but perhaps I didn’t really know how to get there, and in some ways doing textiles was another, perhaps longer route, to get there.
– Create and provide quality –
Whether you are providing a service or a product, this should always be the main starting point. Create something that you are truly proud of and can happily ‘sell’ and promote to potential clients/ employers etc. If you don’t feel your work is yet up to a high standard that you are 100% happy with, hold back until it is. Most things that are worthwhile take time. Once you get to this point, then you can start putting it online/ sending it to people/ applying for jobs. Of course your work should progress and continue to get better over time, but as long as the essence of what you are doing demonstrates that you have the potential and have put your all into it, this is a good place to start.
– Don’t give up –
Day to day, week to week, this is so hard. And yes, you will have set backs, knock backs and disappointments, but all you can do is try to pick yourself up and put all of that behind you. Just remember that anyone you look up to or aspire to be like will have gone through times like this, I guarantee it. I personally think I have become extremely good at blacking out all the hard times, it is only when I take a minute to really look back that I remember them. And even when I do, it’s like it happened to someone else, it is now in the past, and if anything I’m sure I have learned something each and every time something has not quite gone the way I hoped it would.
My practical tip to keep you going is – have a little notebook (or app, whatever) where you write down all the positive things to look back on and focus on. Whether that be a positive email from a client, a nice comment on your work/ video/ project online, a sale of your work or a project/ commission that you are really happy with…anything which you feel will remind you of your progress so far and help you focus on the positives. Sometimes it is nice to look back on where you have come from too, just to give yourself some props for getting to where are. You have already made the decision to try, and that alone is something to be proud of, so many people give up before they have even started. So remember that too.
I know that is all easier said than done, but the people that don’t give up, are the people that go on to succeed, eventually, some will get there quicker than others but it is inevitable that they will get there, because they never stopped trying until they did. This really dawned on me a year or so ago when I was going round the Lucian Freud (one of my all time favourite artists) exhibition in London: he had so much work, so many paintings, his style changed over time and he continued to grow, to paint. Even when he died at 88, a half-finished canvas was found in his studio. And to me, the reason he excelled past his peers was his persistence and dedication. He never stopped painting. Talent is of course a huge factor, but as is often the case you cannot get by on talent alone.
Ok I’ve decided this is already long enough, so will post ‘part 2’ soon, stay tuned 😉
Thanks so much for reading,
feel free to get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org