The Lucky Ones - Thriving as a Digital Artist in 2020
Lately it seems like we get empathy-sprinkled communications from corporations every day - In these strange and uncertain times, now more than ever... BUY OUR PRODUCT. This is not one of those!
Today, let's talk about how to turn current circumstances into an opportunity. Two main points:
• As surreal and unsettling as 2020 has been, digital artists have emerged among the best positioned professionals in the current climate.
• With so much change in the job market and so many of us stuck at home, there has never been such a great opportunity to pursue art as a profession.
2020 threw a wrench into the gears of vast sections of the worldwide economy. Virtually any business that relies on the physical presence of customers and employees has suffered and, while I am by no means an expert on economics, I know enough to feel extremely lucky to be a digital artist in 2020. Here is why:
• Already working from home - a majority of creative professionals have at least some experience working from a home studio. We've been telecommuting, having Zoom calls and interacting with distant clients and coworkers for years. The giant earthquake rocking most of the world's professionals felt like little more than a tremor to the digital artist. In fact, many have found themselves suddenly thrust into the role of "telecommuting consultant" to get other professionals up to speed.
• Lower overhead - digital artists traditionally have extremely low total expenses when measured against other industries. Especially if you work from home. Think about it - other than some initial startup costs (like having a computer, a desk and a tablet) there is no material cost to produce digital art. There is no inventory, no payroll, no shipping and no brick and mortar retail costs. When you sit down at your desk and pick up your stylus, the product you are about to create out of thin air costs you $0 to manufacture - the fees your clients are paying you for your skills are 100% profit!
• No reliance on in-person contact with customers - In my entire 13 year career, out of hundreds of assignments, I have only had one face-to-face meeting with a single client. The other 99% of my business has been conducted via email or with video calls. Some of my best, long-term client relationships are with people whom I have never met in person. Some are even on other continents! Digital artists have practically no reliance on in-person meetings. Digital artists and their clients can interact anywhere in the world and never have to be in the same room - it's been this way for years! COVID-19 0, Digital Artists 3
This is difficult to write because it's hard to shout opportunity! with the dark cloud hanging over the world right now, but it's true. This is a once in a lifetime chance for anyone who wants to make a change in the trajectory of their life to take that leap. If you have ever dreamed of turning your passion for art into a career, here are some undeniable reasons why 2020 is the year to put that dream into motion.
• Stuck at home - Although the most intense days of shelter in place seem to be tapering off for many communities (let's hope!), it's plausible or even likely that some kind of mandated self quarantining at home will become a regular part of life for the foreseeable future. That means you and your art now have all of those magic hours together that you have always dreamed of. I'm betting that at least once, you have privately thought - If only I had more hours in the day, if my job would just go away for a while, I could really get serious about my art - for better or for worse, that wish has come true. Make the most of these hours and days stuck at home by tackling that project that you didn't quite finish or trying out that new brush or technique that you saw in a tutorial. Quarantine doesn't have to be boring or spirit-numbing, it's an opportunity for some real YOU time. Invest that time in your future.
• Career change - With such uncertainty in so many businesses, many professionals may be experiencing career change, both voluntary and otherwise. The clients and infrastructure that so many jobs depended on just may not be there in the new version of the economy that arises from the events 2020. While this is always painful and scary, it can also be a golden ticket. It's a reset button. It's one more obstacle removed from your path towards the career you have always dreamed of.
• BRIGHT future for pro artists - With home life likely to occupy a larger portion of the human experience in the coming years, entertainment industries of all kinds are making HUGE investments. All of the spaces that concept artists and illustrators work within - video games, film and television and tabletop games (to name a few) - are entering a gold rush era. That means more demand for digital artists of all kinds. The jobs and freelance assignments are out there and artists at every level of their career are in a stronger position than ever.
While I doubt many of us will look back at 2020 with a great deal of fondness, there are undeniable and powerful advantages for the business of digital art. Through all of the sadness, anxiety and loss blazing the headlines, somehow things have lined up to give artists the chance to thrive. Take advantage.
OK, here we go. In these strange and uncertain times, now more than ever... launch your career!