One thing I've noticed about successful artists is that they all have their own story of how they got their success. While every story is unique, they all share one common aspect. They never gave up. After graduating I remember how excited and determined I was, ready to take the world by storm and prove my worth. There are many rewards to be had in your first year out, but there are also just as many pitfalls as well. I've experienced a good deal of both. As I'm writing this post now I am very proud of how far I've gotten in my career so far. I'm still very far off from where I want to get to, but I feel like I'm getting closer and closer. But tomorrow I may face a problem that leads me to question my worth, and if I really have anything to be proud about at all. It can get really hard sometimes, and it can be very painful dealing with the pressures of family and finances. Sometimes you may even think of how much easier it would be to just give up and get a regular old "job"-job and let your art fall to the wayside.
More than anything else, I advise anyone who seriously wants to make it in art to do whatever they can to keep up the excitement and eagerness to succeed in any way they can. Whether it's by looking at art you love, contacting other professionals for advice, keeping in touch with old classmates, forming your own art group at home, visiting galleries, participating in online challenges, experimenting with your art, whatever. If you can keep yourself motivated (especially through the hard times) then eventually everything will fall into place. If you really want to make it you'll figure it out and do what you have to do to stay productive and working towards your goals. Speaking of goals, make some short term and long term ones and figure out how to best achieve them.
Even if you have to take up a regular job on the side to help support yourself (as I am doing myself) don't let it lead to you forgetting about your work. Make the time to fit in whatever you can however often you can and know that it will all add up in the end.
This may sound like a bit of a cheesy post, but it's really how I feel about my own situation. The most productive times for me is when I rebuild my excitement and motivate myself to keep going strong. It's so easy to want to kick back and not do anything, I have periods where I fall into that a lot. While it's important to take a break and recharge for a while, don't let it go on for too long. Know when it's time to get back to work, and look forward to doing so.
I hope these past three posts have been beneficial to some degree to anyone reading them. I know they don't cover everything, but I tried to cover problems that were specific to graduating, and some of the prevalent things that came up in my own experiences. Either way, I appreciate anyone taking the time to hear what I have to say.
Speaking of advice. This past Monday, illustrator Steven Belledin made a post on his own blog about advice itself. Some of it sounded similar to some of the points I brought up this week so I wanted to link to his post. You can check out his post on his blog 'Push and Pull' HERE.