My personal experience as a comic book illustrator isn't a success story unfortunately. Not even by a long shot. I wouldn't even call it a career attempting to take off but rather a perpetual train-wreck. I have been lied to, hoaxed, conned, robbed, swindled, flimflammed, bamboozled, ripped-off, tricked, sold-short, stolen from and exploited. Did I mention taken advantage of? And not in the fun way.
We don't have the same opportunities that they have in the west and worse still, young people are not respected in the Kenyan corporate world. Everyone is out to short-change you because you are young and don't have obligations. By obligations I mean a family to feed, rent to pay or a car to fuel. They assume a little pocket change is reward enough for your young talent.
Becoming a professional artist almost feels like a calling sometimes. You have to be ready for a lot of downs before you experience any ups. Freelancers here, like in any other profession, have to work very hard and experience tonnes of disappointment before they can be recognised. Sometimes the recognition never even comes.
My advice is to get into art for the love of the work and not for the money. Animated films in Hollywood wake up to amazing pay-days when Shrek, Toy Story and the other big films hit screens but when do they get to spend their money? When you pick new work before the last project premiers, you are sending a different message. The form is its own reward and the size of your wallet becomes a secondary perk. Art is a reward on its own and not principally a money making scheme. Some of the most famous renaissance artists in history died penniless but their work lives on. Pursuit of money always diminishes the quality of the work because it clouds your focus.
Someone, I forget who, said something interesting on twitter. You cannot compare James Cameron or Chris Nolan to Michael Bay. Chris and Jim make movies; Michael Bay makes money. When you analyse the work of both, there is an interesting contrast. Michael Bay receives massive pre-premier hype and excitement and post-premier butchering. Jim and Chris have it the other way; they are butchered until the movies premier then its all admiration. You also have to pick a side with art when success comes but in the beginning, you cannot be Michael Bay because nobody knows you yet. Pursuit of perfection is the only option.
Before you throw everything away for art, be prepared for what's to come.
Personally I'm enjoying my journey and can't wait to see what the future holds.