I’ll never be a well-known illustrator. Nor do I care. I hope that doesn’t come across as me being grumpy, but it is intended to be blunt and honest. The longer someone is around, the more aware they become and I’m completely aware of where I stand in the illustration industry and I’m more than happy with it.
If comparing my position with that of a few people in the music industry, I’d say my path runs similar to a Steve Earle or to a Kathleen Edwards. Both come across as genuine, and both seem to try to do their best at their craft. In the music industry, they’re “a musician’s musician”, and that’s earned them respect among their peers. I feel like that’s a pretty good spot to be in when someone stands back and looks at their career, no? I don’t know if they’ve designed their careers to be that way, but it’s a good model to follow, in my opinion. For the most part, it’s how I’ve come to design my own career path.
To a degree, the industry will mold you to where you fit in. It’s up to you to decide if you’re happy with what shape you’ve become, or if you need to make a few adjustments. Illustrators often complain about not getting the work they think they deserve. Yet, most of them don’t make the necessary adjustments to obtain it. There’s probably a hundred legitimate reasons why this happens, but, if you had to distill it down to a tidbit of advice, it would be to take a shot of honesty and chase it with some common business sense. It took a few years for me to realize where the industry was trying to put me and I wasn't happy, and that's when I designed a plan to position myself where I wanted to be...which apparently is right here, in front of a computer, pouring my poor heart out.