Changing the way we think about the livelihood of working artists in our community.

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Ever since I was in grade school, peers would praise my drawing skills. But, they often followed up this praise with a comment like, “Eat lots of burgers now, so you won’t mind being a starving artist when you grow up! ”

Have you, Dear Reader, ever:
Made a similar comment?
Told a friend working in the arts that they’re lucky they don’t have a “real job”?
Told your child to pursue something more “practical”?
Assumed your creative friend would be happy to design a complimentary logo for your new business, because they
love making art?

If the answer to any of these is Yes, then you are part of a harmful societal attitude that could be making the Starving Artist myth a reality.

Now, more than ever, we need creative thinkers. We need designers to make our environments and products more accessible, more understandable, more beautiful, more sustainable. We need brilliant filmmakers who will shine a light on the under-served, the under-represented. We need recording artists and composers who can bring more of the world’s citizens together through the universal language of music. …

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We artists have noticed something: communication with some of our clients (new and old) has not been very good, of late. …

Why variety is the spice of my professional life.

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I have been fortunate enough to support my family as a freelance illustrator for the past decade and I have seen my business grow with each passing year. But when I stop to think about one of the biggest secrets for my staying power in a famously shaky business, I am frequently wary of sharing it with students or new artists in my profession. Why? Because it goes against what nearly every working artist or teacher advises young artists to do, if they want to be ‘successful.’ I’m talking about style consistency.

I strongly believe that my illustration business thrives on offering clients a range of visual styles in which I can work confidently. In school, through books, and at illustration conferences, I was instructed to create a portfolio in a singular style and with a consistent “voice” so that art directors could easily understand how I would approach an assignment. This makes perfect sense, and I see the logic in this instruction. However, I was never happy drawing only one way, and I suspect most artists feel the same. Sometimes you want to be quick and messy, and sometimes you want to be slow and steady. Sometimes it’s all about shapes, and other times, it’s about line, or perhaps texture or color. Or sometimes, and perhaps most importantly, you just get incredibly bored with the same old thing. …


Kyle T Webster

Adobe Design Team. Artist for The New Yorker, TIME, NY Times, etc. Creator of those Photoshop brushes you like.

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