I’m self-taught so I wish I had known where to find quality educational content from the get go. It would have saved me so much time! Over my time studying and focusing on improving my skills, I managed to find a lot of amazing resources including free Youtube tutorials, online classes, and podcasts, but in the very beginning, it was super overwhelming to structure my learning. I also wish I’d trusted more in the viability of a career in illustration when I started. Initially I thought I had to be a designer to make enough money to live but that just isn’t true. The lesson is to trust your gut when it comes to what you want to do and not to be too strategic with your direction. I try to share some of these insights with others with my podcast, Illustration Hour. It’s the podcast I wish I had when I first started thinking about illustration.
I stumbled into design after quitting a Ph.D. program in history. When I left my doctorate program, I knew two things: 1. I wanted to do something creative and 2. I wanted to leave academia behind. Retrospectively, I now realize I was interested in art and design from a young age but I didn’t see the possibility of a career in that realm. I build a lot of my self-worth around academic and scholarly achievements even though I suspected it wouldn’t satisfy me in the long run.
Take time to discover what you like. When I started to study design and illustration, I was so concerned with strategy, finding clients, and sharing work that it really kept me from exploring different directions with my work. Don’t close things off in the beginning. Don’t over-strategize. Focus on your creative output and finding what makes you happy. And surround yourself with inspiring people and things. Keep lots of books around that stimulate you. Go to museums. Look closely at things. Just keep your creative mind active.
Chicago is a really great city when it comes to the creative community and the number of places dedicated to art. I love that there are lots of artists doing independent projects and getting back to printing at places like Spudnik Press. I also love events like the Chicago Art Book Fair. I would love to work with one of the awesome breweries based in Chicago. Some of my favorites are Marz, Pipeworks, Half-Acre and Metropolitan. I would also love to work with some music venues to design gig posters. My favorite place to catch a concert is the newly redesigned Thalia Hall in Pilsen.
Hopefully, fully booked with editorial and commercial clients — doing work for people who enjoy my approach and feeling fulfilled. I hope to have also moved somewhere more secluded, where I can be surrounded by nature. I’d like to continue giving back to the design and illustration community by growing the podcast into an even more helpful resource.
Full steam ahead!