Do you have a dream? And I don’t mean those crazy nightly visions of storming zombie infested castles in your best Sunday dress. I mean this: is there something out there that you want, but that seems so unattainable? Is there something far away that you might have to stretch for? I have one. I have a dream job, and a dream outfit to accompany it.
I want to be a full-time artist, to have my hands in so many projects that I am constantly creating and growing. I want to sell originals and prints (check!), to illustrate children’s books (middle grade and YA too!), to maybe even write my own books one day, and to hone my graphic design skills. I also want to wear short poofy skirts with layers and layers of lace and tulle and have tattoo sleeves of rampaging unicorns and pirate ships and dogs with jowls.
And while that dream may seem far away (and strangely specific), I believe that if you work hard and never give up that you will get there and beyond. But where do you start? How do you know what to do first or where to look for help? The first step is the most daunting one. It’s hard to get started but the good news is this:
1) The first step doesn’t have to be huge. There will be many, many small steps that will get you there.
2) There are resources and people out there who are in or have been in similar situations who would love to commiserate with you, share advice, hear your advice, and chase the same dream. It doesn’t have to be a lonely journey!
3) Success doesn’t come all at once, or even look like you imagined. It is a series of small triumphs. It is growing in your craft and always learning new exciting things. It is constantly chasing the dream, and realizing that joy is in the pursuit, not necessarily the destination.
So here are some of the small steps I’ve taken towards children’s book illustration. They’re not much, but they’re a start. And they are a visible manifestation of my work. (I’ve also joined the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and researched agents, portfolios, and illustrators.)