Have fun, and don't be afraid to try things you're uncertain about. It's like puzzles, sometimes. Always try and exhaust all of your possible solutions-- if you have an idea for something that you think might work, do it, because oftentimes it'll turn out awesome. ;3
My tip would be this: Take no shortcuts. The reason good art takes a lot of time is because people put a lot of effort into what they do. Whenever you do something, ask yourself, "what would a good artist do?" And after you answer, ask yourself, "okay, now what would a great artist do?"
Taking shortcuts is just one way of shooting yourself in the foot. I've seen so many people end up totally screwed at critical points in a project because they took the easy way out at an important stage in the work.
1. Challenge yourself. Make yourself draw things outside of your comfort zone on a regular basis. Draw fun easy stuff too - a steady diet of painful art is just as bad for you as nothing but easy stuff.
2. Never start with hyper-saturated colors unless you have a damn good reason to do so for this piece.
It's easy to end up making the whole drawing hyper-saturated if you start like that. Better to start somewhere in the middle, so that if something needs to pop you can bump the saturation up.
If everything is highly saturated then you end up with jangling, eye-wrenching pieces. If that's what you want (and sometimes it is!) then that's a good reason to do it.
It might also be a good idea to start with high-saturation colors if you have a process that involves putting a LOT of translucent stuff over them to shade, desaturate, and otherwise manipulate the colors. But again, then you have a specific reason to be doing it, and know quite well that you don't want to leave those super-saturated colors on display everywhere in the final piece.
I think super saturated colors just need to be used in moderation, like anything else in visual art. I have to respectfully disagree and say that in my experience whether or not I start with muted or saturated colors does not necessarily dictate whether or not the piece succeeds. I think if you have a strong command of your colors and know where you want to go with them, it doesn't really matter what you start with.
*shrug* I see a LOT of beginners just grabbing the default palette colors in Photoshop or whatever and making unintentional neon-on-neon, so it's a tip I toss out a hell of a lot here on DA. "Avoid highly saturated colors" is a rule of thumb that has served me well, and helped a lot when I was developing my own color sense.
A saturated color is a color of high intensity, i.e. it is very bright and noticeable. Most colors are at their highest saturation when they're "out of the tube", once another color gets mixed in the intensity of the saturation immediately goes down.
I couldn't agree more; I once had a teacher who said that if you're not enjoying what you're doing that you're doing something wrong. When your artwork becomes a chore, that's when you know you need to make a change.
I have mixed feelings about #5: Don't Work in a Vacuum. True in some ways, but I think it's also very important to go through an extended "hermit" period at some point and see where you go in complete isolation. It's great to hunt deeply through the past once you've got your own style going, but before that it can be overwhelming.
My two pieces of advice are specific to photography/movies:
1. Shooting still photos is better training for shooting video than shooting video.
Meaning: there's so much going on when you're shooting video, that it's hard to focus on basic framing & composition. Improve those skills with a still camera, and everything you learn translates over to shooting movies.
2. Be able to psychologically turn off the "meaning" of what you're looking at, and just see lines and shapes. (I'm mostly thinking in terms of looking through a camera's viewfinder, but I suppose this applies to other situations as well.) Switch back and forth and make sure the piece is good in both ways.
(When were you at RISD? I ran Fort Thunder's web site, back when they were active.)
Good point on #5; I think if I were to amend that one, I would say to consider other artists' work in moderation. You can certainly quickly overwhelm yourself with looking at other images and letting that get in the way of your own unique process. (especially now with the internet, there is a ridiculous amount of images available at our fingertips)