Wednesday, May 03, 2017

My Life As An Illustrator

Let me start with saying there really isn't any sort of standard career path to becoming an illustrator. I've read articles about a number of artists across the board and each one has a different story as to how they got started. With that said, let me share with you my story and what I've learned since diving into the world of illustrating a few years back.

Unlike others, I didn't grow up wanting to be an artist. Funnily enough, music was my first love. All I ever wanted to be was a professional singer! Hard to believe, huh? For several years, I traveled around multiple states, singing at different women's events, children's homes and churches. In time, life changed and so did my career path. This is where I began to dip my toes into art.

It wasn't until my father passed away of stage 4 cancer in 2011 where I began considering creating art for income. My heart wasn't really settled on any specific thing. I moved forward just doing a bit of everything and tossing it up in my Etsy shop to (hopefully) sell. I say hopefully, as I still didn't "own" my confidence in what I was doing at that time. There was a lot of uncertainty but I was taking my time and enjoying the process.

Move time forward a few years. It's 2012 and I made the decision to quit my good paying job of 13 years with State Farm to return to school full-time. I married in 2013...and then it happened...in Spring of 2014, I was in a horrible car accident that changed my life forever. I was just a few weeks away from college graduation when my world came crashing down. Recovery was long and extremely painful at times. I thank God every day for my wonderful husband and step-children who took time out to help their father care for me.

After 9 months into my recovery and still being fairly confined to the sofa, I was beginning to get bored! Who wouldn't? Right? Although only being able to sit halfway up on the sofa, I began to create little doodles and post them on Facebook. Let me tell you, the feedback I received was incredible! - and THIS is where my illustration career began. My inbox started filling up with not just requests for custom illustrations but inquiries to illustrate children's books as well.

Because of this, I began to thoroughly emerge myself in the Facebook world. Within a few months my page grew from about 2,800 followers to over 8,000. Today, my wonderful followers sit at around 15,600...and still continue to grow! I'm also very active on Instagram. In fact, I look forward to sharing something every day, whether it's a project I'm working on or a peek into my cozy, Colorado life.

With that said, here are some important things I've learned over the past few years that will help one grow and gain exposure as an artist:
  • Have a good, solid online presence. (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, etc)
  • Post daily! Your followers LOVE to know what's going on in your world.
  • Learn to accept rejection. Some things just aren't mean to be and it's OK!
  • VALUE yourself as an illustrator.
  • Work hard.
  • LOVE what you do!!! 

I'm incredibly grateful to wake up and have a job where get to draw and paint every single day. I personally find great joy in knowing whatever create in my studio, it touches the hearts of individuals across the world.

Do you have more questions? Is there anything else you'd like to know about my life as an illustrator? Simply leave a comment below and I'll be sure to answer your questions.
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9 comments

  1. I love your story and your history, Alexandra. I've been concerned since I heard Michael's mom passed. Will you and Michael be traveling back to England? My heat felt prayers for all of you. You and Michael are such special people in my life. Hugs.

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  2. Gosh thanks for sharing your journey Alexandra, I think a lot of your success lies in your openness, courage and willingness to share, all the best as you go forward!

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  3. Thank you so much for sharing this here ...
    Sending my good wishes

    All the best Jan

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  4. jeeze I had never actually seen a photo of the wrecked car, pretty bad smash

    its interesting how everyone's artistic paths can be so different, thanks for sharing yours :)

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  5. I remember when you had that horrible car accident and how much pain you were in...a long recovery, for sure. What a harrowing journey into the world of illustration but I'm so glad you found your way there...your beautiful illustrations certainly brighten this world. Thanks for sharing your story. xx

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  6. I love that you shared your story here and that you have found your path through it all to creative living. Every story told is another lifeline for aspiring artists to reach for, to investigate and to model apiece of themselves after or discover a piece of themselves within.
    It was a few willing and open hearts like yours that kept me centered and on the road when I doubted myself way back in my 20's etc. It s so vital to the soul to have those lifelines that are a mix of solid advice and magic.

    Thank you for being here!

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  7. Thank you for sharing everything my friend! It's so interesting how life changes and points you where you are suppose to be!! Big Hugs!

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  8. I love your illustrations and I am very happy that you recovered from your accident and found a new career through the experience! Thank you for sharing! :)

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  9. Alexandra,
    Thank you for the informative look at how an illustrator starts - at least in your case. I love this.
    Many blessings on your love and desire for your work.
    Janis

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