Dan Santat on Breaking Into The Business

Dan Santat is a cool guy. Besides creating the Disney show The Replacements, he’s also a full-time illustrator with many books (both personal and c-created) to his credit. He recently talked with Rob Sander’s over at the Picture This! blog about his creative process and how he got his start in the business. Here’s the really important part:

Rob: What three things have you learned that illustrators breaking into the picture book biz need to know?

Dan: First of all, I have to start off by saying is that I hate networking and meeting art directors and trying to solicit my work. Personally, that experience for me feels like it’s less about wanting to get to know someone and more about trying to get something from someone for work and the whole experience feels insincere. I took the route of trying to expose myself as much as possible on the internet. Share your work with every site you can, and be consistent. So, my first piece of advice would be that if you’re not working on a paying job then just keep working to grow your presence on the internet. Just keep making art and be consistent about it. It’s that simple.
Second, you should share that work. Post it on your blog or Tumblr account be consistent about posting something every week. It’s the consistency as much as the quality of the work that keeps people coming back to see what you’re doing.
Third, I would advise a person to really focus on their art not for the sake of making a buck, but instead to fine tune your style until it really speaks about how you think and do things. If every illustration you do is money driven and you constantly find that you’re asking yourself, “Can I sell this?” then you’re not being true to yourself and your work is suffering because of it. When you constantly worry about being able to make a decent career in the arts many folks tend to rely on imitating the big names out there who are making a big splash with their work. More often than not, their own work suffers because it is derivative.

While Dan is primarily an illustrator, the quote I’ve plucked could be equally relevant to animators, especially those just starting out or are still in school. It’s funny how a lot of what Dan says is common sense, but is still overlooked by a lot of people.

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