Good question! I actually just did a talk on this last week at RISD, which has allowed for a good amount of reflection. For me, these worked:
1. Put your art everywhere. On every portfolio site, art community….anywhere that offers a free home for your work. I have, easily, 10 portfolio sites right now all on different corners of the internet, and they’ve all brought people to my art. Better yet, most of the websites have twitters, facebook pages, or tumblrs where they feature different artists from their sites every day. I received my first gallery gig from an art community (society6), and was invited to do some character design for another website I had my artwork on (Carbonmade).
2. Enter into contests, competitions, and whatever else you can find. Before and since graduating I’ve been putting my work into art competitions, and entering contests and weekly assignments (illustration Friday). I suggest Quarterly publications like Creative Quarterly. The fee is only $10, so its not a huge sacrifice if you don’t get in. c:
3. DON’T wait for work! Aside from putting your stuff on the internet, make promotional material and send that out. Every little bit helps, and you’ll be surprised how powerful word of mouth is.
4. Like you said….draw EVERY day. It is so insanely easy to not pick up a pencil after college. Other things get in the way: work, home life, entertaining distractions. But before you know it, four months have rolled by and you haven’t completed a single piece.
- Adding onto that, draw seriously. Scribbles are good, but you want to work your creative side. Complete concepts and try to generate at least one idea a day. its tough work, but like everything it gets easier the more you do it!
5. Understand your work. You may graduate with the idea that your work looks one way, so you need to do this one thing (“my work is cartoon-y, I need to do comics.” or “I paint more than I draw, I’m only suited for gallery work.”) If you treat your art this way, you wont succeed. The world of art is fluid and VERY accepting, don’t feel you need to blind yourself to other areas because you feel you aren’t suited for them. Do what feels natural to you, don’t try to fit in anywhere, or reference your style from someone because (either consciously or subconsciously) you think it will make you successful.
I could go on forever with this…but every career, every life is different. What works for me may not work for everybody. Fortunately, I’ve been exceedingly lucky in my career thus far. People have been so wonderful, sharing my work and supporting me, that a lot of my jobs have come to me.