The Right Way into a Career is Often Backwards

Updated: Apr 20


Today I stumbled upon a studio visit interview with illustrator Richard Haines. It is a video published by Criterion Collection. I'll link it below it is definitely worth a watch and allowed me to discovery a body of work that I enjoy a lot.


Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2OoUy_SwLk

Haines gives a very insightful recounting of his journey to the top tier of the fashion illustration game. There is a quick detail that really jumped out at me as a young artist not sure how to establish myself in an industry not concerned with finding me. That detail comes early in the interview when the artist is thinking back to his early days in New York. He talks about how he moved there to become an illustrator. Not seeing much opportunity, Haines began drawing fellow patrons in a coffee shop that he frequented during the day. This lead to a blog titled, "What I Saw Today". It is from this production of illustration that he caught the eyes of multiple large publication. Upon discovering his talents the work started coming in and all of the sudden Haines was on his way to becoming a renowned name in illustration.

Often times we hear about people after they have been discovered and validated by a reputable source. Most artists have this idea that one day they will make something great, get discovered and skyrocket toward success. We take for granted the work that goes on prior to discovery. I think that is what I found most inspiring with Richard Haines. When he didn't immediately find work in New York. He didn't stop making. It is easy to stop making when opportunity doesn't fall into your lap. It is hard to work enough that you create your own opportunities. The people who tend to "make it" are those who rather than stop make more. Instead of the demand imploring the work, the supply creates interest leading to demand.

Making for the sake of making regardless of the meaning is the most important part of a studio practice. Hence the title of this article. We should not be set on the idea that people will be so beholden by one piece that they immediately hire us and allow for a career. Focusing on the outcome or what we get out of making will always hinder the making. Instead we should make because we cannot not make. Do it for the sake of doing it. If you are persistent and put in the work the career and accolades will follow.


Here are few examples of Richard Haines' work as well as a link to his blog: