At Arcus, we get emails from hundreds of people asking for advice about how to ‘break into the biz’. In this new series of articles, we’ll be posting answers to some of the most commonly fielded questions we get from young people, students, recent graduates and people looking for a change in career. First up, our Illustrator and Graphic Designer Alex shares her story.
Did you start in education or transfer from another job area?
I actually ended up in animation from a very wiggly route! I had a job as a jeweller, it was a lovely job and I found myself very comfortable at work, but I realised I just didn’t care about jewellery and needed to go study what I’ve loved my entire life, which was animation. So, I went to do an FdA in Animation at Newcastle College.
How did you go about first finding work?
After my FdA in animation I still needed some real work skills, so I set about getting myself a paid internship. I would get up every morning whilst unemployed and call (not email) every creative company whose work I admired in my chosen area of Newcastle. I eventually got a paid internship with Studio Precept as a Junior Creative after sending them my Instagram! Whilst there, I supported myself with a second job as my internship paid an apprentice wage, I made some great connections with local businesses there too.
Have you done freelance/worked for other companies or is Arcus Animation your first creative job?
How would you suggest going about getting work seen/networking and making contacts?
Honestly, this varies an enormous amount from region and area of expertise. I knew I wanted to work in Newcastle – creative jobs here are rare, and Arcus, being a 2D animation studio was exceptionally rare, so I knew I had to have as many skills as possible to make me more diverse and desirable. If you can be trusted with multiple tasks rather than just one you are a better asset!
That said – my good friend Vic Bell is an illustrator who’s work is incredibly popular on dribbble. She focuses purely on one style of illustration and does that all day long. She is an absolute inspiration and one of the hardest working people I know. She went to the same college as me! So different approaches work very differently based on what exactly you want to do for your career path. Write down exactly what kind of creative you want to be, if you want to be freelance or employed, where you want to work, how much you want to earn, visualise as much as you possibly can and be very very precise in what you want, then the steps in that direction will be easier to figure out.
Do you know of any events that would be good to attend for making industry contacts?
If you’re on twitter, at least have your twitter handle as your name, or have your face or logo as your twitter icon. Quite a few people I’ve bumped into have recognised me because I have my face as my twitter icon! I think this can work well in small cities where there might not be that many networking events in the creative area, in bigger cities there tend to be more face-to-face events. Also, if a networking event you want to go to doesn’t exist – make it yourself! I did, and it’s a good lesson in planning and organisation and gets your name out there into the local community really quickly. Arcus started their own too with aNEmates.
Would you say it would be better to learn other skills as well as just illustration, or to keep improving that?
I think learning as many skills as you WANT, not as many as you CAN, is the key. Only ever learn something you really have an interest and want to do. I genuinely have a love of typography and it’s come in useful in animation! Graphic design, in my opinion, is always useful, at least for creating CV’s! Stick to the things that you find genuinely engaging, and with each new thing you learn you’ll want to learn ten times more!