I remember and understand what it was like. I was living in my little apartment in Berkeley, trying to get freelance jobs, trying to work on samples for my portfolio so I can show clients what I can do, and wondering if I will ever be successful. When you’re not there yet, it’s hard to believe in yourself and not give up. The only thing I can say is that I hung in there, figured out ways to get through the slow times, and kept trying to improve my work.
You really have to believe in yourself. I listened to motivational tapes, which recommended making a goal list. You write down separate lists of short term goals and long term goals, list them in order of priority, and try to do something every day on each list to move toward your goal, even if it’s a very small step. It actually helps when you write your goals down, it somehow makes it more tangible.
For a long time I wanted to do movie posters, I admired the work of Drew Struzan, who did Indiana Jones posters and a lot more movie posters in the 80s and 90s. He had a distinct style that a lot of artists tried to copy, but couldn’t, including me. I finally decided I should try to get work from Disney. Even though I always loved Disney, they weren’t making very good movies at the time and doing the movie posters seemed glamorous. But when I decided on what I always loved – Disney – that’s when it started to click. (See my other article about how I got my first job with Disney.)