Advice on how to be an illustrator

I got an email from a student asking for some advice on how to be an illustrator.I reckon this should help –

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My advice would be to practice, practice, practice.  Take a sketchbook around with you from time to time and draw and document the world around you.  The better you become at drawing life, the more convincing any stylistic or illustrative interpretations of a subject or brief will be.  I draw cartoons but never stop noting down the every day things that pass you by.  None of these drawings ever get published, but they enhance everything I do that does get published; I almost create a library or repository in my mind that I can pull out or dig into for future reference.

Look at the people who are successful and ask yourself “is my stuff as good as theirs?”  If it’s not, then it’s up to you to find out what makes their work so special.  If it is, then ask yourself how, what is it that’s as good – then distill those elements down and down and down until you’ve nailed your specific style.  Show it to everyone, get some feedback, keep on drawing, find other people to compare your work to, draw some more, learn how to paint, learn how to sculpt, read a book, learn a musical instrument, bake a cake, big yourself up, and then – the most important thing of all – when you get a job, get it in on time.
Hope that helps!

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