Why you're not getting anywhere with your art

5 min read

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engelszorn's avatar
I believe a lot of you are asking them selves that: Why am I not getting the results, I want to achieve? Why are my portfolios ignored? There are many answers to that obviously. Luck and timing is also a factor, but you are not at the mercy of random events. You do have two things going for you no matter what you are trying to achieve and I'd like to write about those. This should be of interest to anyone who is currently trying to "make it into the industry" or who is struggling with their art - but why should you listen to me? Well, first: I've been thinking about the same problems you have and second: I've made every possible error along the way, so, if you don't trust my professional merits, trust me in having fucked up. I have also seen enough portfolios, read blogs and listened to fellow artist struggling with the same problem that I believe my personal view is worth sharing. So, what are those two factors I want to talk about?

Expertise and Exposure

Get those two right, you're set. That's it.

Let's talk about Expertise. Expertise means: you know what you're doing and if you don't know enough about a topic, you still have a good enough foundation so you don't have to learn starting from the very basics. A good example is a traditional painter making the switch to digital. You still need to learn the program and everything that goes with it, but you don't need to learn painting as that is your foundation. Expertise is what you need to finish a project within a given timeframe. Expertise in this context means a bit more than just plain: I know how to draw. It is also a mindset that you have aquired after spending years at training to learn a craft. Are you focused enough? Do you finish within a deadline? Are you flexible enough to make corrections? Nobody likes to work with someone who is not reliable and able to manage their time and ressources.

In short: Expertise is what YOU OFFER. (claim)

Most common mistake I've seen is: a very small portfolio, just including a few sketches and mostly copied from photos often just done in pencil. Nothing wrong with just pencil-drawings, but if you're only showing random copies of celebs or 80s poster, you have a lof of catching up to do until you get an internship - much less a full-time job. A personal petpeeve of mine: some websites like artstation or drawcrowd may convince you that random porn poses are all you need to draw, but trust me, it's not.


Here it does get a bit murky, but let's look at a very common example: You've finished a painting and upload it to your website of choice. That in itself is exposure, but you are probably looking at a popular artist's newest submission thinking that you'd like to get so lucky one day. Why wasn't your last submission that lucky? This is the wrong way to think. Very few people have the tools to create trends and we don't have influence over what may be hot one day and what not. I don't know how many submissions are published on DA alone on any given day, but it's massive. As someone put it very eloquently: Ain't nobody got time for that! so why would someone spend their time on DA to view them all - or until they've found your submssion?

You do, however, have time to work on your own projects. Convince people that you aren't just another pretty submission amongst thousands. Create a webcomic. Re-create a folk-tale as a mock-up concept for a sci-fi shooter MMORPG. Attend conventions, send in applications, upload videos of your drawing process. Create something that will make people want to come back to your page!

So, what if your webcomic is getting ignored? Are you sure, you've done everything right? Did you put a link to Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter or whatever? Do you engage with people who show interest to keep them as fans? Yes? Alright, check back: is your expertise at the level it should be? If not, invest more time and effort to improve. Especially if you're trying to get a job as a comic artist or concept artist. You do not need to be perfect, but you need to prove that you are committed to what you are doing.

In short: Exposure is not what happens to you - it's WHAT YOU CREATE. (proof)

Is this the magic button that will make your problems go away? Probably not, but it is a clear direction nonetheless and people who one day are looking to hire you will (subconcsiously) look for those qualities.

And yes, I wrote that also for myself as a reminder to keep on working!
© 2016 - 2021 engelszorn
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ChubbyCake725's avatar
Thanks for the advice.
Neshi-Farfarer's avatar
Well-put, chief. Quite worthy. Social media, indeed, erm, thanks for the reminder.

Keep up the good work chief.
ROJUGraphics's avatar
Thank you so much for your advice. You've answered my questions that's been floating around in my mind. I do have a lot more to learn and this has opened my mind on what I want and what I'm looking for. I've been drawing all my life. Just recently started drawing again and honestly getting better at it. It's my hobby I love Art in any shape or form. No matter how good or bad you think it looks it's still expressed from yourself. I may not be good myself but I'm where and how I want my art to be. My goal is to just be known for the art and drawings I do. Im basically doing underground art haha. I'm not a professional but I can surprise you and make you satisfied on what you want me to draw. I never been to conventions either so, I believe it's time to step over that line and go further with what I have to offer. Passion. Thank You #ArtisME
Teepy-teep's avatar
For years I had been avoiding utilzing social media. It wasn't until last year I created a tumblr, facebook, youtube and instagram for my work. Man, oh man! I regret taking so long. Now I am defiantly getting more exposure to my work and different audiences to show it to.

Anyway, thanks for the opening this discussion and giving these great tips.
surika's avatar
... läuft übrigens ganz genauso, wenn man in der Wissenschaft arbeiten will. :)
engelszorn's avatar
Yay, ich erzähl nicht kompletten Blödsinn, haha :D
SaphireDragon16's avatar
Thanks for the advice, and for sharing your opinion. I believe knowledge of a subject is a vital skill for any career, including art so it makes sense to see it in youe journal. I think time and commitment plays a large factor too, like how much time you put into each piece, or how committed you are into 'joining the community' =) Although it's always nice when you realise that you have made progress. =D
S1n7h's avatar
Thanks for the advice. I have, however, a question regarding the trends that you briefly talked about.
I feel like realistic/hyperrealistic drawings and paintings are currently the most popular style on dA. Does that mean that you have to follow the trend and be good in that niche because there is obviously a demand or does it mean that you should try to swin against the current and try to set your own trend?
engelszorn's avatar
I don't think so, no. You need to find your own strengths and if you happen to have what it takes to follow a current trend, then go for it. It might be easier to get clients if you are able to deliver what the market is searching for. However, it is by no means a must, especially if you invest in your own projects. You'll have total artistic freedom with the added bonus of maybe standing out from a crowd.
S1n7h's avatar
Thank you for the answer!
I made this account mostly to receive critique on my literature so it is not bothering me all to much, I am still rather new so that might be a problem as well, but the lack of feedback/interest is be a bit annoying.
Jam2370's avatar
I always find myself looking for a definitive awnser to all these points, even though I know there isn't one xD I struggled for a long time with exposure but I think I am getting better at it by doing some of the things that you mentioned ^--^
KovoWolf's avatar
nice write up! :)
akbaragill's avatar
You cheered up my life a lil bit ^^
Spharrix's avatar
Thanks for the advice
Tap-Photo-and-Co's avatar
Thank you, it's very usefull and makes things clear(er).
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