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Jump out of your comfort zone
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Portfolio Builder: Jump out of your comfort zone

“In truth, fear is an element of every picture I have ever painted. Being fearful of failure or having little confidence just becomes something to climb over.”
—John C. Berkey

Jump out of your comfort zoneI’m making 2014 an uncomfortable year for myself. I’ve decided that hiding out here in my comfort zone isn’t moving my career forward as quickly as I like. I’ve spent the better part of the last decade honing in on a personal style that I feel good about, that can be reproduced with consistency and that is (hopefully) commercially viable. Now it’s time to leap.

But that leap, moving out of my hermitage and my comfort zone is terrifying. I literally freeze before taking the steps I know are necessary to move up off my present plateau.

But I’m being a mean boss. A task master extraordinaire. I’m making myself follow the plan. I mean, I’ve always had a plan, but the execution has been a bit haphazard. No more excuses. No more convincing myself I’m not ready yet. I’ve had friends (you know who you are – be quiet already) tell me to just get my work out there. So, I did.

It’s only the middle of January, but I’ve already finished up some pieces and sent them out on submission. As of this writing, I have 6 separate works out for review awaiting word of acceptance. I try to think positive. It helps with the long silences.

In a little over week, I will be giving my first ever on-line, live lecture and demonstration on how I use Adobe Illustrator to illustrate narrative illustrations. I’ve been an instructor at the local community college teaching watercolor techniques for 3 years now. Moving into the interwebs is a bit intimidating for me.

I also worked up enough courage to submit an application to vend in Artist’s Alley at Spectrum Live, which happens in May in KC. That gives me 4 months to make sure I’m ready. I can do that.

After this post is finished, I am going to submit images created last year into the Spectrum Annual call for entries. I honestly don’t think my work is at the level of the very high-caliber of competition, many of them top names in the fantastic art field, but I have to start somewhere. I have to start now.

Has fear kept you from leaving your comfort zone?

Five ideas to jump out of your comfort zone:

1. Send out quarterly mailings to a targeted mailing list. For those of us who specialize in kidlit art, this is a must. Get your art in front of the Art Directors and Editors at book publishers and magazines.

2. Enter competitions. SCBWI has many throughout the year. Many other places also have calls for entry. Just make sure you check each contest out thoroughly first. Make sure you retain all rights to your work and that if there are entry fees they are minimal and reasonable. Entry fees should be free or less than $50. There are a lot of scams and exploitative contests out there. Be careful.

3. Contact other bloggers about making a guest blog appearance on their blogs. People who have a blog with active content are often looking for people who appeal to their readership. Make sure you are familiar with the blog before you approach the owner, that you have something relative and new to say to their followers. And if they do accept your offer, for Pete’s sake follow through and do what you’ve promised.

4. Research and prepare a portfolio for alternate markets outside of the kidlit-o-sphere. Contact the movers and shakers in the appropriate industries. For me this is the Fantastic Art community. They are a great bunch of people and surprisingly, there seems to be a bit of overlap with folks I know in the children’s book community. Look at the art you enjoy creating the most. Where else would it be a good fit?

5. Share your expertise with students. There must be something you are accomplished and passionate about. There’s a good chance there are others who would like to learn what you can share with them about your passion.

Here’s to making yourself uncomfortable in 2014!

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2 thoughts on “Portfolio Builder: Jump out of your comfort zone

  1. I am glad to have found your blog. As an illustrator and artist myself, it is always interesting to get tips and advice from others in the same field. I also look forward to your online workshop on Tuesday night.

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