Hi moo, I think taking a break is never a bad idea. Actually I was in your shoes a few years ago, I was at a turning point in my life after finishing school..I couldn't afford uni and I didn't see myself doing anything else for a living (other than art), even though I was sceptical about doing art related jobs at that point in my life. But I desperately wanted to make a difference in my life at that time...so I jumped right into a part time job at a local studio, just to test the waters, and yeah that was my start working as an artist. So I've been working in the art world (mainly as an animator, illustrator and concept artist) for about 6 years now...and I figured I could help give you some insight into what it's like. This is going to be a little long so bear with me So there's three main routes: Studio job, Freelance or Fine Art.
will always give a steady pay, but there's going to be things like office politics, long working hours and perhaps not much in the name of actual credit. Some top companies will promote artists or such, but most companies won't go out of their way to promote an artist...so a lot of the work one will do, will remain under wraps...for many years sometimes. Another thing is that, often you might have to do art that you might not enjoy or completely out of your comfort zone. Smaller companies for example will not always have dedicated artists for any one task, so often one has to quickly learn new skills and adapt. On the other hand, you'll get to interact with other like minded people, and artists, and even be able to have fun gaming after work or participate in office trips together, etc. If you're a very social person irl, you'll probably enjoy it. A big con will be that after a while payment will not be increasing by much, and sometimes it feels like the amount of work you're putting in is not being compensated for enough. And then there's the risk of losing the job at any given moment (although most places will usually give some kind of advance notice if that is the case).Freelance
is amazing because it has freedom. You can look for gigs that are to your taste and preference. And you can also decide how much time you to dedicate to work everyday. You can take days off when needed without having to explain to a whole team, etc. On the other hand, it is a little unstable INITIALLY. Yes, the key point is initially. Over time it can actually end up paying way better an any studio job out there, so it has that going for it. Well I think you have a great online presence and following already, so an artist like you who has a large audience can perhaps leverage their reach in order to find work more regularly (sorry if it sounds a little weird?). With freelance there's a few different routes. There's commissions, and there's also websites like UpWork and Freelancer, etc where you can look for work. I think with freelance a combination of both isn't a bad idea. That way even when you're not getting commissions, you can keep the cash flow coming through finding regular work on online job platforms. Sometimes you can also find recurring clients, which is always a bonus.Fine Art
route can perhaps be the most challenging initially but once established it will be pretty solid. As expected, one has to really target the fine art crowd..Exhibitions, artbooks, prints, etc. Payment mainly comes from painting commissioned art and original art via exhibitions, online stores, etc. Making merchandise is also a good idea.
Judging from your art so far, I really think you'd do great in illustration (storybook illustration especially), concept art (you have really good ideas and lots of interesting variants based on them as well) and also animation. I can imagine if you took some time to learn 2D animation, you could totally build up a great portfolio of a very unique animation style...I can totally imagine music videos in your style, or even a visual novel for example. If you want to go for clean up, you probably could, but bear in mind people who do professional clean up have an extensive portfolio of doing just that and usually the chances of someone new getting hired for that is low. But again, you never know until you try really.
My basic advice would be this:Are you extremely strapped for cash?
Do you HAVE to have a job right now? Or is it for the sake of appearances or keeping up with everyone else? If it's the first one, then it's not a bad idea to get a job right now (even if it is non art related, if the cash is flowing you can focus on your art in your freetime and keep building up your audience, etc.
BUT, If it's the latter, as in you don't have an IMMEDIATE need for a job...then I highly recommend you take some time, maybe a year or two and devise a good plan for doing freelance full time and get started. This will require doing a lot of research into how other freelance artist are making a living, how they manage to get regular clients, social networking, attending events, etc. You can start looking for jobs in online platforms, and also keep those commissions going. Formulate a good solid routine. Just because it's freelance doesn't mean it shouldn't have routine. I think to really make freelance work, one has to treat it like a proper job. That means working 5 days a week, taking two days off, making sure to reply to clients regularly, giving yourself a salary (helps to even out those months when work is in surplus vs months when work is scarce). All of these things will help a long way in making your freelancing experience smooth and efficient. Also perhaps consider patreon, (it can be a very viable platform to earn a steady amount regularly). You have a youtube channel, so continuing with that is also a great idea.
I'm not sure if you've seen this video, but maybe you might find this insightful: www.youtube.com/watch?v=JsmrlB…
I feel like with the internet there are a lot of doors open for an artist who intends to make a living doing what they love most.. I highly recommend you take some time to think of the options available to you. If there's something that really keeps coming back to you time and time again, then I think you should listen to your heart (and provided your circumstances aren't dire) go for it.
I hope this helps, even if a little bit. If you have any specific questions, feel free to let me know man. I wish you all the best, and FIGHTO!!!!!