On finding time to train
🎟 and a style map for a fantasy story for kids.
On making time to train
You wouldn’t ask a professional athlete; How do you find time to train when you’re competing all the time.
It is because they train that they can compete all the time.
Training is not something you carve out time for, it’s part of the job. The most important and difficult part of the job.
One of my training plans for the year was to take the Make Art That Sells, illustrating children’s book course. It’s written down with all my other plans and goals for the year, and stuck on the wall to my right with washi tape.
As I started to hit my professional goals. It became very tempting to cut back on my training goal. VERY TEMPTING! Here’s why I stuck to my plan to do the class amidst my busy work schedule:
1. A place to experiment
A paid gig is not the place to experiment, it’s where you’re commissioned to reproduce the SAME quality of work that you got hired to do based on your portfolio. It is not a place to grow. So the way to grow is by doing better portfolio work, and then get hired for that portfolio.
2. Portfolio building - working with an author and art director
The class provides 3 texts. Written by an author and Art Director Zoe Tucker, there were designed particularly to help illustrators show off their chops. And informed by not current but upcoming trends in the picture book market.
There’s enough real-world assignments in here to build 15 portfolio pieces that are on point.
3. Instant feedback - growth happens in feedback loops
Getting instant feedback from an awesome group of peers is the best way to develop rapidly. Especially when we are all trying to solve the same problem in our own way.
4. Style - maintaining a core
When working in publishing, you’re hired for your style, but each project will finely tune your style in one direction or another, for the project. Self-directed work is a great way to realign the core style.
5. Community - becoming an insider
There is something special about being in a community where beginners and seasoned pros and every step in-between congregate around the love for picturebooks and the goal of becoming better. It’s a reminder that we’re on a journey. This shared experience creates a lasting bond that makes us industry insiders, not outsiders.
Are you in class? I’d love to hear your reasons for being in class.
🎟 If you’re a paid subscriber, here’s a behind the scenes look at how I approach that training;