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November 25, 2012


Replies: 42

Bright beautiful career turns into dead end job, now what?

Elixia-Dragmire Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Ok a little background info, I was hired 5 years and 1 month ago as an childrens illustrator for a company who makes childrens playareas. I was straight out of uni and very fortunate to get a job not only in my field but as full time employee! a regular salary and one that was more than my job at the pub, a graduates salary.

roll on the recession, company struggles, redundancies are made early 2008, we solider on. later mergers happen, promises of a bright company future, nothing changes. except the attitude changes. expectations to do more for longer hours and on shorter deadlines with the threat of 'we'll just fire you if you dont' lumming over head. so moral as you can expect is exceedingly low.

In the five years I've been there, I've moved out of my mothers house, eventually bought my own, struggled with increasing utility and car bills and now planned to actually get married after being engaged for 5 years. I've had 2 performance reviews both times been told theres no money for a pay raises.

i love my job, i love creating the things i do at work and i love my co-workers but its starting to feel like a dead end job. no rewards, feeling down trodden, replaceable and undervalued its demoralizing. I know for a fact everyone in my office feels the same, were all in the same boat but everytime someone mentions it the 'well you could get a job at tesco's!' statement is uttered.

some of my watchers will know that i do commissions from time to time to make end's meet and love the work i get from them. they're very imaginative and very enjoyable. in fact most of my gallery here on da (and commission work) is NOTHING LIKE what i do at work! work is all simple characterized and vectored, where as i enjoy doing my more digital paintings and concept designs. I've been thinking for a very long time about going freelance and would i be happier or would i make enough money to cover my expenses? personally i would love to do illustrations for the likes of wizards of the coast or paizo, sort of a pie in the sky dream since i'm not sure i'm actually good enough, but is a hope and goal i suppose.

I sort of need some careers advise on this one ...

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Devious Comments

Adonael Featured By Owner Dec 5, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I'm essentially a freelance teacher and my work has varied from the bare minimum to full working week. Though it's an amazing lifestyle, it can be very stressing when you don't know where you'll be from place to place. I never did my homework, but I was lucky so network as much as you can. Find somewhere like a publishing house, or an illustration company and volunteer there an hour a week or something. You might get your big break through meeting someone there that can point you in the right direction.

Whatever you choose to do though, I wish you luck :)
QueenGwenevere Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2012
That sounds a lot like the company I used to work for in the year before they went out of business. The place started out as a fun and promising company, but towards the end it was a depressing downward spiral as things fell apart... I remember wondering if I should go freelance and trying to amp up my portfolio at the time. Then the whole question was resolved by the company going out of business and laying everyone off anyway, ha.

Then of course I spent a couple of years struggling to get a freelance career off the ground. It probably would have taken longer than that if I didn't have connections through ex-employees of my old workplace, that helped a lot. I'd also managed to save up a decent chunk of money from my old full-time job, and that helped me pay rent and expenses for the first few years.

If you can, it's probably better to try ramping up a freelance career while you still have a job. Work on your portfolio, start networking, see if you can pick up any freelance work on the side, etc. Especially if you have a lot of expenses. Either that or spend a couple of years saving up as much as possible so you'll have a cushion.
Robot--Panda Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2012
My last job was similar - a comicbook publishing house that was struggling. I was a fulltime colorist. At first I could color 2 pages a day, and do the job quite well, but they wanted 3 pages. I didn't want to sacrifice quality, so I struggled a bit, found technique shortcuts and got to doing 3 pages a day on average, although sometimes I had to stay overtime. They asked for 4 pages if possible. This is when I realized, as long as I keep covering their requests, I will never be happy, because they will always raise the bar above me. So fuck that, I started just doing whatever amount of pages I felt like. Often it was like 16-17 pages a week (5 days work week). Soon after the company downsized and they offed me, along with all other full time illustrators. I have no idea what's happening now there.

Some people have given you good advice - look for a new job, while you still have this one. Usually you can find your new place before you even notify your current boss that you quit, then just notify him, wait out the time and start your new job.

About the drawing and painting. I looked through your gallery. It looks like your technique could use improving to make you more efficient at your work. Out of curiosity - how long did this take you to make [link] ? If you want a skill ceiling that you can aim for for now, you can take mine - . This guy has the most efficient technique I've ever seen any digital painter use. You can probably pick some interesting stuff up from him. I'm not talking about style, or even technique, but more about the way he treats PS. He's spend years optimizing his technique for this software... Check him out. ^^ And look for a job. No point in staying at a work that makes you unhappy.
Elixia-Dragmire Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
I watch the same guy! And his maybe his or maybe not other account (wink wink nudge nudge, say no more)

he has actual inspired me to improve in recent months. I made a thank you you to Jim about it.

That piece there took between 3 to 4 hours on and off. It was a warm up piece for concept reasons. Most pieces take 8 to 12 hours depending on background.

Honestly thou my work here on da is better than my works work. I hit their ceilings years ago, which can be bad and good. Their tried to get me to take on more work too but I openly told them that was a complete new job role and I would want more money, so they hired someone instead.
M-J-Gagne Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I will just echo what others have already said. It's easier emotionally and mentally to look for another job when you currently have one. I have been unemployed since April and have had no luck since then. It gets increasingly discouraging the more time that goes by. At least I have had my new son to focus on and to keep me busy.

In terms of the dead end job feeling, that can be rather depressing. When I do get work the only jobs I get are short term contracts, so no room for advancement. Just going from contract to contract. The older I get the more I feel like any prospect for an actual "career" has reached a dead end. :(
Elixia-Dragmire Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
i have a friend who's been unemployed for over a 1 year (nearly 2) and its soul destroying. i can see. I cant up and quit this job at the mo, i have a house to pay for and wedding to fund, its just not feebly but of course i am looking. i have been looking for 6 months already :S
M-J-Gagne Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Good luck with finding the new job and with the wedding :)
RandomRobskii Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2012  Student Filmographer
Whatever you do, don't leave your job before you find a new one. My ma always says it's easier to find a job when you're already in one. That is, if you want a new job, of course.
Elixia-Dragmire Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
yeah, i wouldn't do that anyway. i have too many expenses.
Frogessa Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2012
I'm in a similar position like you. You can't do much: work for the paycheck, draw in your free time for your enjoyment and try to look for other jobs in your field, but stick with this job for now for we are all in recession and things are still not looking good :( (especially for artist)
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