Corel Painter 8, Oil brush. Cintiq. Cookies, coffee, good anxiety
Time and Certainty. Advice is a tricky thing to dispense. I'm hesitant to give it and feel a craven regret if I don't. I can tell that the gentleman who posted his request for advice (Shane's message board) was in a quandry. I recognize the swinging pendulum of mixed priorities and can hear the precarious caution of someone who has come to the crossroads of a career choice. Plunge headlong into chasing after a passion or a dream without a net? Have a fall back? Split the difference? He goes on to say that he will not be happy with any other path. I have no qualifications for career design but I have faced many forks in the road of following a dream of drawing as a profession and have been lucky enough to have chosen (mostly) agreeable paths (none of them easy). As a fellow traveller down this road I offer my two cents. So, the question, and I paraphrase: Is it advisable for someone in their early twenties to still go for a career in Illustration?
There is only one setting for your choice of a life's work: Forward. There's also no off button--as you've already mentioned. It's either this path or oblivion.
Having that out of the way we can clear a lot off the table. First, risk management. It's a fool's game to control variables. By nature, variables/risks, are inevitable--thus you arrive at one certainty already.
The other certainty is that the rewards of going towards your goals are immediate--if not in the amounts you want or from where you expected them to come (the realm of assurances and promises are the provence of infomercials anyway. Whatever is being hawked will always cure what ails you, speed up what takes time, or create need where there was none. And we all know how those stories end).
Then you mention time. To be doing what you dedicate yourself to means that time becomes immaterial. You'll want more time, you'll lose time, you'll make time--but the doing...ahh, there's the bliss. Why think about the time it will take when you can just go? It may be later than you think or sooner than others but think about it: All you have is now anyway.
There are no judgements of how far you should be by now or how much you should do before you get there, but your gains are yours to observe and yours to celebrate.
Then it's time to do more work. How grand that is.
He responds soon after to say how much he appreciated my response. So, I allow myself to feel better about making the choice to post the advice. I know that he will come to this conclusion on his own sooner or later or another will find the opportunity to say the same. Glad to part of it in a small way now. I wish the young man luck. I already know he'll have a blast.