We are a secret consortium of industry Art Directors.
We remain anonymous so we can be totally honest with you and not get fired for giving away secrets and getting real. Please check the #tags to see if your Q has already been A.
I follow the advice, 'do what you love' but I keep finding that the work I liked doing the least is precisely what other people love the most, and often gets really popular, while the work I loved doing gets a lukewarm reaction at best. What am I doing wrong?
“Do what you love” is only HALF the equation; the other part is “find where it fits”. Sometimes that second part comes first, sometimes that second part comes after, but to put what you love to work, you need to be able to find its audience.
“Find where it fits” is not a question so much as a QUEST. Explore. Talk to people. Talk to artists you admire. Talk to friends you trust. If you have a portfolio review with an AD, ask directly: “This is what I love, but I don’t know what it fits. Can you think of where something like this might be needed?”
A few years ago I had an artist approach me with a portfolio and a “I know there really isn’t work for this kind of thing, but I love doing it so much…” And it turns out that no, no there’s actually a LOT of work for that out there but it’s not necessarily the big marketing pieces that everyone sees on the surface. I wish I could CLONE her, I can give her so much work.
Last year I had a portfolio review that had some nice art in it, and then tucked in the back was this BREATHTAKINGLY awesome thing that was so cool I pulled in another AD who was waiting for his next reviewee. As it turned out, it was the kind of art this artist really wanted to do, but she’d been told that it would never sell by someone who didn’t know anything outside of their own art needs. The other AD present and I just about fell over ourselves telling her that no, this was awesome, and here was how she could apply it.
Every convention I go to, I talk to artist after artist who thinks that they have to do what they perceive as being wanted, and they end up drowning their own voice and repressing their actual strengths. I see it over and over and over again, this misinterpretation.
So. Go on the quest. A quest is not asking one person, or even two. It’s a lot of legwork. It’s seriously sitting down and focusing things and doing research, and talking to people.
Still, in all this, you need to keep skill building. There’s always a place for excellence somewhere. Do good work. Do good work. Do good work.
I’m going to link you to Agent Evil’s post on focusing your approach to your art again, because its super relevant here <3. http://dearartdirector.tumblr.com/post/129215901434/dear-art-directors-i-am-really-having-a-hard-time