Some freelance artists have artist’s representatives, or reps, to sell their work to advertising agencies, etc. One time, I showed my work to a rep, I don’t remember his name, but he was in San Francisco. After he looked at my portfolio, he calmly told me that my work wasn’t good enough for him to represent.
Actually, he was the first person to bluntly tell me that. I don’t remember what other people told me, it was probably something like “We don’t have anything right now” or maybe “We’re looking for a different style”. But this rep came out and told me that my work wasn’t good enough.
I was actually shocked at his bluntness, as I said no one ever told me that before. I went home very depressed, but when I think about it now, that was probably the best thing to happen to me. It woke me up, and forced me to look critically at my work, and made me determined to try to improve it. It still took me a long time to improve my work, but that was the first step.
I didn’t really take my work seriously at first, and it took me a longer to succeed. So I believe that the earlier you ‘wake up’ and take your work seriously, whatever it is, the sooner you can get to your dream job.