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Here's some of the most amazing and invaluable advice you'll most-likely ever get from one of my good colleagues and legends in comics/gaming, creator JOE MADUREIRA. It's what i've been preaching to you aspiring artists since i arrived on DA, but i think his POV says it perfectly:





Believe it or not there is a difference. I'm not usually a soapbox type guy, I don't like instructing people, and I think I'm a terrible teacher. But hey, it's Friday and I'm in a strange mood. So here goes:

I've noticed that a good number of my fans happen to be aspiring artists themselves. This is for all you guys. I get asked constantly: "Where should I go to school?" "What classes should I take?" "What should I study for anatomy?" "What pencils and paper do you use?" "Should I be working digitally now instead of traditionally?" "How do I fix my poses? Learn composition? Perspective?" "When am I going to develop my own style?" "Who were your influences?" "Teach me how to draw hands!" The list goes on…


Here's the deal. All of that stuff *is* important, and it may nudge you in the right direction. A lot of it you will discover for yourself. What works best for one person doesn't work for another. That's the beauty of art. It's personal. It's discovery. DON'T WORRY ABOUT ALL THAT CRAP!

Instead I'm going to answer the questions that you *SHOULD* be asking, but aren't. These are things that have only recently occurred to me, after doing this for 20+ years. These things seem so obvious, but apparently they elude a lot of people, because I am surprised at how many ridiculously talented artists are 'failing' professionally. Or just unhappy. The beauty of what I'm about to tell you is that it doesn't matter what field you're in or what your art style is.


In no particular order:
1) DO WHAT YOU LOVE. If you are passionate about what you're doing, it shows. If you're having fun, it shows. If you're bored, IT SHOWS. Some guys are able to work on stuff they have zero interest in, and still pull off great work, but I find that when I do this my motivation takes a huge hit. And Motivation is key. Money is not a great motivator. It's temporary like everything else. And honestly, I've gotten paid the most money for some of the shittiest work I have ever done. That may sound awesome, but it's not. And here's why…

2) You MUST stay Excited and Motivated. Have you noticed that there are days you can't draw a god damned thing? And some days you feel like you can draw anything? It's 4am but you don't notice because you are in the ZONE. Your hand is racing ahead of your mind and you can do no wrong?! Maybe it's some new paper you got. Or a new program you've been wanting to try out. Or you just found some amazing shit on DeviantArt, or watched some movie that just makes you want to run straight to your board. This relates to the above because while it is possible to involve yourself in projects you aren't excited about—maybe you need the cash, or think it will look good on your resume, whatever it is—it's not going to last. You need to stay fresh. Expose yourself to new things. New techniques. You should be getting tired of your own shit on a fairly regular basis. Otherwise other people will.

3) Check your Ego. If you think you're the shit, you're already doomed. You may be really, really good at what you do, but there's someone better. Sorry. There's always plenty to learn, even for us old dogs. So when I meet young upstarts who have this sense of entitlement, or a know-it-all attitude, I just have to laugh. Some of the biggest egos I've ever witnessed were from people who have accomplished the least. Meanwhile, most guys who are supremely talented AND successful, and have EARNED the RIGHT to have an ego and throw their weight around, don't. Why is that? It's because…


4) RELATIONSHIPS ARE IMPORTANT. This may be one of the biggest lessons I've had to learn. Early on, I didn't value my relationships with people. Creatively or otherwise. I felt like I didn't need anyone's help and I could figure everything out on my own. Let's face it, many of us become artists because we are reclusive, social misfits. We'd rather stay inside and draw shit than go outside and play. We like to live inside our own minds. Why not?! It's awesome in there! And sometimes we don't want to let other people in. But like I said—you can't do it alone. I can honestly say that as much as I try to stay current, as much as I try to push my work and draw kick ass shit that will excite people, I would not be where I am today if it weren't for all the other people I've met and learned from along the way. Guys who pulled strings for me. Took risks on me. Believed I was the right guy for the job. You need to manage your relationships. You need to network, and meet people. Drawing comics is still a pretty good place for reclusive types—but if you want to work in big studios—Making games, Films, animation, basically any other type of job on the planet, you'd better start making some connections. Be likeable. Be professional. That doesn't mean be an opportunistic ladder climber. Fake people lose in the end. Be yourself, but be professional. It's no secret that when people are hiring, our first instinct is to bring in people we know. It's human nature. I don't like unknowns, even if their portfolio is awesome. If we have a mutual connection, if they have great things to say about you, you're in. If you have AMAZING artwork to show, and I call your last employer and they tell me what a pain in the ass you are to work with, you're done. Talent and skill only get you so far. I am literally amazed at how often I meet guys that are total assholes and think they are going to get anywhere.

5) Here's the BIG ONE. The greatest obstacle you will ever have to overcome IS YOURSELF. And the Fear that you are creating in your own head. Stay positive. Stop defeating yourself. There are artists I know that are so damn good they make me pee my pants. I look up to these mofos. I study their shit and I want to draw like them. And they are almost NEVER working on their DREAM project. And—big surprise, they aren't happy in their job. "Why NOT?! WTF is WRONG WITH YOU?!" is usually my reaction. And the answer is almost always "The market isn't great right now" "Other stories/games/comics like mine don't do very well" "The shit that's hot right now is nothing like mine, It's just going to fail." "I'm not sure I'm good enough." "I need the money." "Too Risky." "I tried it before and failed. " It doesn't matter what words they use, they are afraid for one reason or another. I know. I've been there.

But here's the deal. YOU NEED TO TAKE RISKS. Guess what? YOU ARE MOST LIKELY GOING TO FAIL. If you want it—REALLY want it, that won't stop you. You will learn A LOT. My good friend Tim constantly jokes about how I jump out of planes without a parachute and worry about the landing on the way down. You may think that I'm lucky, that it's easy for me to say because I'm already successful, that I'm in a different situation than you all are. But it's not true. Risk is risk, no matter what level you're at. If you're already successful, you just take even bigger risks. But they never go away. Everything in life is Risk vs. Reward. Not just in your career. LIFE. You'd better get used to it.

I didn't know what the hell I was doing when I got into comics. I left the #1 selling book at the time ( Uncanny X-men ) to work on Battle Chasers during a time when 'Conan' was about the only fantasy comic people knew. And no one was buying it. I wanted to work in games, so I started a game company. I had NO IDEA WTF I was doing. I just wanted it, really bad. We tanked. It failed. No big surprise. But the people I worked with got hired elsewhere and rehired me. I started ANOTHER game Company. We had 4 people and a dream, and some publishers wouldn't even meet with us, because their 'next gen console' teams had 90+ people on them. I literally got hung up on. "Stick to handheld games, it's smaller, maybe you can handle that…" one MAJOR publisher told us. I don't blame them. But we didn't let it stop us. Thank god we didn't listen to them. Vigil was born. Darksiders happened, AND we got to make a sequel. It stands shoulder to shoulder with the best games in the industry, and the most elite and experienced game dev studios in the world. How is that possible?!!! Hardly any of us had even worked on a console game before. I'll be honest, I was thinking we would fail the whole time. I just didn't care. If I had to play the odds on this one, I'd bet against us.


Why am I telling you all this shit? This is not me patting myself on the back. It's just stuff that has somehow only dawned on me recently when it's been staring me in the face for so long. I feel like I need to wake you guys up!!! I've been limiting myself. I've gotten afraid. I've taken less risks. I saw my career going places I didn't want to go. I wasn't happy and I wasn't excited. And I've realized, that all that stuff I just talked about is the reason I am where I am today. Not because I have a manga style, or I draw cool hands, or there's energy in my drawings, or all the other things people rattle off to me. There are other guys that do all that same shit, and do it better. And amazingly, those same guys constantly tell me "Man, I wish I could do what you are doing." "SO DO IT!!!!!" PLEASE listen to me—because I want you guys to make it. I want to look to one of you people for inspiration some day when it's 2am and I need to keep drawing. Stop worrying about all the other stuff—the pencils, the paper, the anatomy, all that shit. It will only get you so far. You've already got most of what you need. I hope this helps some people. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for all the support over the years. You are all one of the greatest motivating forces in my life and my career. Sappy but true. Ok, let's go draw some shit!!!"

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LilTeaz Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
Jmnzcel Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2017
BATTLE CHASERS !!!!! \(^0^)/
TheHandStudy Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
My to improve my hand drawing skills so I can draw them more in my webcomic lol

this helps ^^ never give up!!
Psyknight72 Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2017
Thank you so much for these advices!!
AbyssWatchers Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2017   General Artist
Very good advices!
EqVleb Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2016  Student General Artist
*Mic drops* !!!!!!!! THANK YOU!!
Matadorstudio Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
soooo .... how do you draw hands? LOL 
LordDonovan Featured By Owner Oct 28, 2016  Professional Digital Artist
This is all good advice, but that part about networking and relationships is definitely the hardest part to follow in my experience. Regardless of any other personal specifics, even if you're entirely on your own, you can always find things that excite you and do what you love. (Maybe not get paid to do what you love, but at least draw what you love in your free time.) Likewise for staying humble and taking risks.

But networking and making connections? Like, connections more significant than just commenting on somebody's art online? Unlike the rest, that part doesn't happen just because you decide to do so, no matter how much you want to. You can decide to be brave, you can decide to follow your heart, you can singularly do all the parts that are a matter of changing yourself, but you can't just decide to have meaningful relationships with other artists with similar goals and interests. Time and again I see professionals like Joe Mad here tout the need for networking and friends in the business, and believe me, I do not doubt the gravity of such lessons in the least. But man, getting to know - or more directly, mattering in the least - to other artists is difficult when you're just another random internet nobody, or the thousandth forgettable face walking past their booth. Networking is absolutely important, I know I'm not better off in my craft in any way for being so isolated, but getting any sort of in with other artists is incredibly difficult from the outside. And until you can get that in, no amount of people skills even make a difference. I very much doubt being gregarious and likable is my issue, I don't lack for friends in general, but that stuff only seals the deal once you actually interact with someone. Most relevantly, interacting with them face-to-face, as I'm pretty sure I have better direct charisma than text charisma.

So the really, really useful advice in my opinion would be how to ACTUALLY MEET other artists in any meaningful way to do that networking and socializing. Ironically, while the internet has made talking to practically anybody just a click away, being yet another voice in the dull roar of collective online communication any remotely half-decent artist puts up with these days has basically no chance of starting a relationship. It's too much for any of us to deal with. But from the outside, what other options do you have? Just keep chugging along on your own? I've been doing that, and sure, I gradually improve my own skills that way, progress is happening in some regards. But I'm still getting next to nowhere in regards to establishing relationships with other creative people, that is the absolute hardest part when you're still pretty much on the outside. Doing random single commissions and working on really tiny projects where I'm the only artist or don't interact with any others isn't getting me anywhere, socially speaking. But without knowing people, getting better jobs where you do get to really make an impact on other artists is so much harder. It's one thing to know you need to network and make friends, but actually doing it is another story. Until you have some connections to build from, it feels like trying to draw without a pencil.

And on top of that, in regards to the importance of point 1: "DO WHAT YOU LOVE," you need to make those connections specifically with artists who share your passions, who like the same stuff you do. Otherwise, connections to people doing the stuff you couldn't care less about are likely to lead to stuff you couldn't care less about, and that's definitely no good. I agree that working on stuff I don't like kills all creative drive. But nonetheless, that additional requirement makes meaningful networking even more daunting, regardless.
Lilydarkangel Featured By Owner May 20, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you. You're so amazing and that' s really inspiring
FelinusRex Featured By Owner May 20, 2016
Thanks for keeping the flame burnin' with some solid stuff to keep the ol' noggin in check. ;)
torchickn Featured By Owner May 18, 2016  Student Digital Artist
omg, thank you! Very interesting and inspirational read 
customwaifus Featured By Owner May 17, 2016   Digital Artist
Brobossa Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
I need to reread this thing more often.
AmadisDeGaula Featured By Owner May 27, 2015  Student Traditional Artist
I really love you right now. Thank you!
Sinner2 Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
An excellent piece of advise, very motivational. Useful for all fields of study and interests as well.
maureenoconnell Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2015
If you are passionate about what you do, you are bound to succeed because then it no more is work. Its a way of life.
finalknight0x3 Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you Joe and Lesean for your sage words
Mesebak Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Man I grew up admiring his work....
Fisharto Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Great honest advice! 
Polarbill Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Sage advice spoken there, Thank You Sir!
jo-ink Featured By Owner May 29, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Great advice. And extremely inspiring. :D
derylbraun Featured By Owner Apr 15, 2014   Digital Artist
More then said once but i have to step in line and say: Thanks for that.
CrumpSmash Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
RafaelDantAnna Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2014
You're AWESOME, sir. Thank you from the bottom of my hearth.
oscarvld Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Thank you!
DamaiMikaz Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks a lot :)
Erknaten Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Jakemono Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2014   Digital Artist
So fkin inspirational :D
bunleungart Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
Blackwell-Art Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2014  Hobbyist
absolutely awesome and on point! thanks!
Parabolastar Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
perfect! thanks!!
PainlessJames Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2014
AttackPanda1280 Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks for the great advice Joe! I've admired your pencils ever since your uncanny x-men days! You're truly the best!
atomic-ikon Featured By Owner Feb 1, 2014  Professional General Artist
i like u more now :) that was a great little soupbox ... just what i expect from a rokstar :)
sequentialinzunza Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks joe!!!
Drask-ghellion Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
delilittle Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
This was amazing, man. Good job. :D
Defago Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you so much.
Best sh*t I've read for months!
EvilWeenie Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2013
Thank you.
Shadowgrail Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
AMEN man.. I keep trying to grow .. especially try not to get too complacent in wherever I am because i know i still need to grow more and find more things I love doing !
Karen-Augie Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2013
This is Awesome! 
tare-musume Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you for sharing this  :)
thwright Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2013
Thank You, Again!
YourEverydayArtist Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Nice, thank you!:D
mortokiss Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2013
the best vebal bitchslap ever..
mroberti Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2013
nighthawk327 Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2013
Thanks so much for the inspiring post. :)
L1701E Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2013
manimTHIRSTY Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2013
Thank you for the inspiration.  I feel lost sometimes in my career, but this really helps.  Thank you.
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