The Myth of Failure and being an illustrator

The reality of being an illustrator is that sometimes, even after a ton of work, a project can go nowhere.

4 years ago I started writing a book. It was about, wait for it…ONLINE DATING! I took my true life experiences and illustrated them. My idea was for a coffee table or novelty book. I started shopping it around to agents and got one on my first day trying! It felt amazing. We started the proposal writing process and she started in turn, started shopping it around to publishers. It was getting good feedback. And then…brain tumor. And everything had to stop. For a full year. By the time I was able to come back to it, my agent and I both agreed the concept was no longer relevant as a book. And just like that, countless hours of work were gone.

But I regrouped! How about adapting these this book as Valentine, or rather GALENTINE, greeting cards! So I did that and again shopped it around. Aaaaaaand no one wanted them. I received great feedback from creative directors though. They loved them. They thought they were hilarious. But they were to edgy for them. I’m edgy. Who knew. Someone sign me up for a full back tattoo and multiple piercings.

And so I regrouped again! I’m now making my Galentine cards available for direct digital download on my Etsy shop. I promoted them on social media, instagram and facebook. Annnnnnnddd nothing again.  Not one sale.

One of the harder parts of being an artist is putting something out there in the world and people not loving your art as much as you hoped they would. But the difference between having a hobby and having a career in the arts is that you realize that one project does not define your success. Success is taking what you learned from a “failed” piece and use that knowledge to make your next one more successful.

What do I know now that I didn't before? I turned the cards into gifs and posted them to giphy as well as making a bored panda post. Bored panda seems like a pretty great tool to promote going forward and I think I'm going to use it more! I also learned that you CANNOT self-promote on Buzzfeed. As demonstrated by them deleting my account. Oops. 

Clients can't find you if you're not only producing work but also putting it out there. And who knows? Maybe this "failed" project will be one that gets me, my next big client.

Enjoy the gifs below and Happy Galentines!