Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Goals for 2012 and a short personal history

This is my personal vow for 2012 and I hope that any and all who read it will hold me accountable.

I'm very guilty of putting myself in certain mindsets that have been completely unproductive and limiting to my personal growth and future. I've started to realize this and now I'm going to take action.

I graduated about 8 months ago from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth with a BFA in Illustration. What does that mean? Jack shit. It took some time to realize (and to terms with) the fact that the college I went to did not help me get a job in the field I desire to work in. In fact it didn't help me get a job at all. At the age of 14, I got "The Art of Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring" as a present from my aunt. I had thoroughly enjoyed the movies, but it was when I got this first art book (plus the second two to follow in subsequent years) and saw the special features in the extended edition DVDs that I knew I wanted to be doing exactly what I saw those artists doing. I wanted to draw and paint my heart out on different concepts used for movies and games. I wanted to become a concept artist. What better job to have than to get paid for what you love doing?

Unfortunately due to financial and other constraints, I had to pick my last choice school. However I was at least happy that they were known for having a strong art department. The major problems with the school (though there are many other ones), is that it doesn't do enough to promote its students to help them excel after college, and its curriculum doesn't cater to the modern art world. The school didn't even have pen tablets for the digital media lab. To top it all off, many of my teachers including the head of the Illustration department had no concept of the modern scene in illustration - including concept art and digital art in general. Not just that, but he was 100% reluctant to learn about it - in fact he never once asked me what I wanted to go into or how he could help. He always approached things from the standpoint of an editorial illustrator who was big in the 70's and 80's. As such he and some other teachers geared me in directions that were counter productive to my ultimate goal, and also steered me in directions that rode against my personal hand/artistic style. College should be there not only for education, but to help students get the job that they want.

I can't fully blame the school for the position that I am in though. To some extent I let fear rule me. I didn't use my college in order to attain my personal artistic goals. In fact, many of my friends didn't either; in many respects, we were in the same boat together, physically and mentally. I was incredibly naive. I wanted to become a concept artist but I didn't really understand the amount of work, discipline, and knowledge of the industry that one needs to break in. For my senior thesis, I did illustrations about Nantucket - mostly about its history and things that stood out to me personally. You can see some of them in my gallery in fact. My professors liked the idea because it meant that I was less likely to change it, since Nantucket is close to me and I wouldn't be too easily disinterested. They had a lot of trouble with people changing their thesis in the past because the professors did little to help or accept the students' goals. If I had been brave, I would have used Nantucket as the backdrop for an incredibly unique concept art portfolio. But I chose not to because I didn't think my professors would let me. How dumb is that?

So that's my past. I don't regret having gone to UMD. I met some of the most amazing people I know. There were a few exceptional teachers who I really learned from and grew under, and are now on my resume. And through all the trials we faced, I developed an incredibly strong camaraderie with my whole Illustration class. I'm very lucky to have them and I probably grew more as an artist by their help and critique than my teachers.

After graduating, I worked through the summer at my usual seasonal job and doing very little artwork. Through Fall, as the light waned, I started to become less productive. Not only had my seasonal hours run out, but now that I was starting to produce art more heavily, I ran into a major problem - light. I was living at my mom's house on Nantucket, which wasn't built with natural light flow in mind. To top it off the nearby trees and elevation block a lot of light in the morning and evening. Not only was I having trouble working, but due to the dim lighting, I was having trouble even wanting to work. Plus, Nantucket is a big tourist economy, but only during the summer. In the off season, there's almost nothing to do and it's pretty depressing for an artist who wants to make a name for himself.

I made a big decision in November to move in with my dad off island. His place is a lot brighter and my productivity improved 10 fold. After a few weeks on Nantucket again from the holidays through half of January, I am now trying to make up for lost time at college and the time in between. I've been without a job for months, have run out of summer earnings, and have only earned $175 off two commissions I was able to get in December. Worst of all, my art is not improving fast enough. I don't want to end up having to get a part time job in something I hate just to get some money in my pocket. I don't want to have to rely on my parents for everything. I don't wanna be a loser anymore. I need to work.

So this journal entry is my new beginning. I've made an effort to publicly admit my faults and my new goals to commit to in the hopes that anyone who reads this will hold me responsible for my commitment, but hopefully it will inspire others to do the same and discipline themselves to achieve their dreams. For anyone who wants to join me in my pursuit of happiness, dreams, and being somebody, I recommend you join the Crimson Daggers http://crimsondaggerblood.blogspot.com/ . It was created by my close college buddy Dan Warren and his friend Dave Rapoza.

Major Goals for 2012:
1. Develop a concept art portfolio
2. Become sufficient enough on freelance work to justify not working at my season job this summer.
3. Improve my self promotion and exposure

Minor Goals for 2012:
1. Become better at splitting up my time between client work, personal work, studies, networking, research, and self promotion
2. Become more active on all the major sites I use - DeviantArt, ConceptArt, Freelanced, Crimson Daggers, and my blog (I want to triple my current dA page views (8,900) by the end of the year)
3. Completely pay off my college loan by the end of August.

These goals may be slightly modified over time but I'm not gonna be removing or making any of them simpler. If anything I may make them more descriptive or clear, or add to them. I will also be organizing monthly and weekly goals to help organize my life and keep me on track for my big goals.