ABOUT THIS EPISODE:
Today I bring you illustrator and picture book maker Marc Martin all the way from Melbourne Australia. I talked to Marc about starting out as a designer and all the different things he tried in his quest to find work he loved. He shares how he transitioned into illustration, how he got into making picture books, how he got his first publisher, and how he challenges himself to keep improving. I’m so stoked I got to talk to Marc Martin because I just love his illustrations. If you don’t follow him on Instagram already do yourself a favour and check him out. But without further ado, here’s the interview:
FIND MORE FROM MARC MARTIN:
On his website: www.marcmartin.com
On Instagram: @marcmartinillo
MY TOP TAKEAWAYS FROM THIS EPISODE:
-When you study design in school you get interesting briefs and you get rewarded for having a creative and unique vision. But then theres the ‘real world’. A lot of good design ideas get changed by clients and a lot of design jobs are not really about creative or even artistic work.
-When you get a new job take the opportunity to learn anything new you can learn. However, once you realize it’s not what you want to be doing, theres no sense in sticking it out any longer than you have to. Of course its always good to have a next job lined up before you quit. And its pretty much never good to burn your bridges when you’re leaving.
-Don’t be afraid to jump from one thing to the next to find better and better opportunities and figure out what you do and don’t want in the world of work.
-If its not a ‘hell yes!’ it’s a ‘no!’ – Derek Sivers
-Even if you switch from one thing to another you generally still transfer some of your skills over to the new thing. You become more and more broadly skilled. You never really start over completely from scratch.
-Even if you can’t do exactly the work you want to be doing at your day job, consider how you might do the work you’d prefer on the side as a freelancer. You may be able to make it your full time gig eventually. Or at least get some interesting jobs and make some good contacts.
-Do personal projects on the side. Do the work you wish someone would pay you to do for yourself. Show what you’re capable of, share your ideas.
-Putting your work out in the world doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get noticed but you are way less likely to get noticed if you don’t just start making the work and getting it out there.
-It may be impossible to objectively say what work is and isn’t good. For a lot of reasons your own opinion about your work is the most important. Assuming you’re not to ridiculously hard on yourself. If you kind of hate your work and are ever embarrassed to show it to people, it might not be there just yet. If like your work and you’re proud to show it to people, you should! get out there!
-Even once you get to the point of loving your own work, you just keep growing and evolving. Never stop learning, evolving and improving.
-If theres something you want to stand for, embody it in your work.
-Perfection and good work are not always the same thing. Perfection is not always as interesting.
-Let agents come to you. sometimes if you’re in a rush to get an agent your work may not be up to par yet. You may only get one shot. So if you start pitching yourself to agents make sure you are really ready to stand behind the work you have to show.
-If an agent comes to you with a lot of work, negotiates good prices for you, and protects your interests, then that’s a valuable service.
-Be yourself! express your unique ideas and interests with personal projects on the side. Show people the work you are capable of and interested in doing so they know they could hire you to do more.
-In the days before social media marketing and before he had an agent, Marc found clients through personal connections. His advice is to be nice to everyone you meet and let people know what you do,. You never know when they might need something and you could be the first to come to mind. Don’t forget that real people still exist. Your contacts could still be a great source of future opportunities.
-Be yourself and be nice to everyone you meet.
-As you go on in your career and you have more opportunities you can get more and more selective about who you want to work for and what kinds of work you want to do. Over time, as you have more options, aim to do more of what you want and less of what you don’t.
-You don’t have to be just one thing. If you’re a commercial artist it doesn’t mean you can’t make ‘fine’ art too or vice versa. People will want to pigeon hole you, so you’ll have to get creative about getting around that, but you don’t have to be just one thing, just because it’s easier for others to follow.
-Traditional publishing vs. self publishing: With traditional publishing you benefit from their distribution networks and more people get to see your work. With self publishing you have more control over the finished product and you keep a larger portion of each sale. However the total number of sales will probably be more with traditional publishing.
-If you’re in Australia theres a program you may be eligible for to help you start your own business. You take a short business course and get help to write a business plan. Then you get the equivalent of welfare to help support you for one year while you get your business up and running. Marc Martin used this to help him get started in his first freelance graphic design business. In most countries you can probably find some kind of helpful resources. Especially if you are young, a woman, a minority, or just a general first time business starter.
-In the arts it’s super common to sometimes have too much work and sometimes too little. Maintaining a buffer of savings means the difference between having to go out and get a day job.
-Don’t do your work for free! it only undermines your value and the value of your entire industry. It can be pretty hard to decide what jobs to take and which to turn down. Give yourself some slack but it’s good to establish some minimum standards.
-You might well take on some work you don’t love to pay the bills. Still try to keep your portfolio focused on the kind of work you want more people to hire you for.
-Sometimes good things take time. If you can’t post on social media every day and week, thats just reality. That being said, post whatever you do have that you like, even if it’s just in progress.
-Use social media to actually interact with people instead of just putting things out there. You might find it makes you enjoy the whole activity more.
-Instagram shouldn’t be dictating the kind of work you do. People can smell desperation.