Internship works

Our internship is a good fit… for some. The goal is to bring in twenty interns that would like to take their art career to the next level. You have the goal to make a living working as a full time artist, and up to this point, you have not been able to do that and you would like to learn how. The internship is a five hour a week commitment, you give five hours to the internship in exchange to participate in the mentorship. We’ve received many applications though out May and June and so far we have accepted 12 interns into the program. Of the 12 interns accepted, 7 interns are really understanding the program and communicating well and are doing the work. Five interns have not fully stepped up to the responsibility. And that’s ok, the five that are not in the groove may catch on or they may choose to move on. No worries. The internship is not for everyone. No harm, no foul. It’s simply about season, is this the right season for you to participate? Will you do the work? If not, simply bow out gracefully and let me know that this is not a good fit for you at this time.

Illustration: Travis Foster

Why does this internship work for some? Communication is the key. Do you respond to emails? Do you follow up and do the tasks that have been given for the week? Do you read the email carefully and respond to each point or do you ignore certain sections of the email. Do you leave an email unanswered?

I’m going to provide you a specific task or a list of specific tasks each week. If you follow through and do each thing on the list, this would be acceptable. It’s no different than when you work for a professional paying client when creating illustration work. 98% of all communication that takes place between an artist and a client is through email. Each inquiry, each assignment, each assignment brief, sketch submission, final art delivered, invoice sent, project closure. All of it, happens through email. Hardly ever do I need to reach for the phone. If I do, it is to iron out a hiccup or address a pressing problem that can not be dealt with through email. My point being, become an expert at communicating and getting things done through email. This will make your business as an artist stronger. Questions? Ask me, I’ll address your questions.

If you choose not to do the entire list during the week and this happens week upon week, I’ll send you a gentle email asking if you would like to continue with the program? It may be that I ask you to step down and ask you to reconsider joining us at a later date when it better fits your life and schedule.

I’m fully committed to this program, both the internship and the mentorship program. It’s currently 4:31 a.m. on a Saturday morning and I’m working on this first draft you are reading currently.

Keep in mind that we have 15 illustrators represented in the agency. Professional illustrators that make their livelihood by illustrating and creating artwork for clients. We also have 12 interns currently with the agency. I am responsible for 15 illustrators and 12 interns, which means on any given day I’m communicating with 27 people. My time is at a premium. When I send you an email, it’s deliberate and purposeful. I manage my time carefully. If you habitually ignore emails, and the specifics of the email, you will be cut from the program.

It would be no different than you ignoring a client’s specifics in an email. A client is paying you and you ignore the directions or specifics of an email. The client would not hire you a second time. That’s a fact.

Why the internship? What is the return on the five hours you give each week to the agency? My goal is to mentor 20 aspiring artists. Whatever stage you are in your career or journey, I would like to help you take it to the next level. Consider me a coach and we are bartering time. You work, I work. We both give. If you want to make money as an artist, this is something I know well. I’ve averaged over $100k a year for 27 years, drawing and creating illustrations. It’s been a wonderful career choice. I will be illustrating for clients later today and each day next week, I’m usually booked up two to three weeks in advance. I enjoy the process of creating art immensely. It’s what I’m wired to do.

When I was young, playing little league baseball, at the end of the season we would have a team party, I would get recognized as the kid with the most team spirit. They actually handed out a trophy to one kid for the best team spirit, that was me. Even when I was on the bench and the other kids were playing, I would cheer the loudest and try to encourage others. Nothing has changed, I’m built that way. I want you to excel. I want you to live and achieve your dream as a full time artist. I would not have accepted you into the program unless I thought you had a chance at building an art career. Today, you may hit a single, a double, a home run, you may strike out. I’m going to be cheering for you and there is always your next time at the plate for you to swing for the fence. Each day is a new beginning. Each day you have a shot at creating some cool art for potential or paying clients.

If you want to succeed as an artist and you had one attribute that you could lean on, I would choose for you grit. Grit is the ability to persevere, fight and never give up, do the hard work even when you do not feel like it. If you have grit, you have a fighting chance at a career in art.

Illustration: Travis Foster

Travis Foster is a freelance illustrator, illustration agent, cartoonist, husband and dad to four kids, Travis Foster Reps is based in Nashville.