Across the world, art students are graduating from their respective programs and entering the professional world. Congrats to you all! This post is for you.
Some of you have jobs lined up. Awesome. Some of you are pursuing freelance or waiting to hear back from your job applications and all of a sudden have all this time on your hands. What to do? Well, 12 years ago I was a young artist freshly graduated looking to pursue freelance work. I had a lot of growing to do over the following years and made a ton of mistakes. But amidst all of this I did what I always do when I needed to advance my career: DRAW.
The following images are a sample of the sketch pages I created the months following my graduation. These are from 2009. But before we get to far, I do want to emphasize that this time post graduation, especially for those pursuing freelance work, should be split 50% art and 50% career/industry/business. Be careful to not hide behind your art and delay the business side of your career. With that said these sketches can be done first thing in the morning while listening to your favorite music to set the tone for the day. Then after 1-2 hours of drawing, you tackle the career tasks for the rest of the day (promotion, emailing, spread-sheeting, etc).
I would draw all sorts of things. I never pre-sketched, I just went right into the final lines. Developing confidence was my goal and repetition seemed to be the solution. Many times I would pick a subject and crank out a whole page of them like the hand drawings above.
Hands, anatomy, skulls (of course), and shoes!
And of course, a ton of figure drawing. There is an abundance of high-quality online figure drawing photo reference databases these days making regular figure drawing a piece of cake.
Master copies are always a good idea. Here are pages copying the work of Mike Mignola and Alex Toth.
Finally, sometimes I would want to focus more on inking with a brush or rendering. These pages resulted.
This was simply me doing my push up. Training. I was trying to sharpen my blade and improve my craft. Many graduates, myself included leave art school with their craft almooooooost there. Spend these next months developing disciplined everyday sketching and your work will take that step up into that next level that attracts the eye of your desired clients!
Again, congratulations to all of the recent grads. This was a tricky year to graduate into, but then again, there never is a perfect time. I graduated into the 2009 Recession! If you stay diligent and proactive in your career, and develop a regular practice of art-making, you will reach your goals.
This reminds me very much of the practice of the late comic book artist Gil Kane, who would do “warm up” drawings, usually figure drawings, before diving in to the day’s work.