Learning from film industry (I)
If there is one creative industry, probably it is film industry (though, in recent years, videogames industry has grown enormously…) Cinema has been moving around millions of dollars for decades — particularly, investing millions of dollars in the production of stories. Therefore, I think it is a good mirror to look for clues on the industrial side of creating narrative art (I expect to publish more posts exploring this topic)
Inside film industry, there is a saying that goes something like “if you are 40 and you still do not have a career, maybe you should rethink what you are doing”. I believe the point is more in how long have you been trying to become a professional actor, than a specific age.
This made me wonder. Does it happen the same in illustration business? I thought there was some examples of “late bloomers” — Kirby, I would say initially, but then after fact-checking, I see he began his career in 1936 (19 years old)… (by the way, if you know of some good example of a successful artist who started her career late in her life, let me know in the comments)
There is also this saying “never too late”, but I am not sure if such saying is not just another example of “individualist wishful thinking” (going along “your whole life is at your hands and your hands only; work hard and you will achieve anything”). I agree on the benefits of work / training, but… success (specially, commercial success) usually comes from more than pure work (being in the right place at the right moment, contacts, resources…).
RuPaul summarises all these ideas very well in her famous Drag Race speech:
Charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent
Specially charisma: when you have to sell your script to the producers with a 2 minute pitch, sadly it will have more impact how you connect tho them & how do you sell the script than the actual quality of the script. Or, if you want to enter the “writer’s room”, it will be equally important how well you get on with the persons inside as how good a writer you are. Or, getting closer to printed visual storytelling, if you are trying to publish a comic, first you well need to catch the attention of an editor and then she will need to see something in you as a person: charisma, authenticity…
Years ago I read somewhere that an artist who is willing to work needs at least 2 of these qualities (I am writing this list from memory)
an interesting body of work (whether because it is beautiful, well told, popular in networks…)
efficiency (delivering on time)
being a nice person
That is, if you created some masterful pages, but you are slow or you don’t get on well with other human beings, you will be very lucky if your work ends in libraries.
Now that the “entry barriers” to producing art are getting lower and lower, and more and more people is creating (and sharing) art, I believe that you need all 3 qualities to have a successful career. I have been thinking of some professional artists that I know, and all of them are not only “professional” (good quality art, which in a way is “taken for granted”), they also keep the editorial schedules AND are nice, generous people.