The Association of Illustrators (www.theaoi.com) has another very useful publication, The Illustrators Guide to Law and Business Practice. They also have advertising, editorial and publishing address lists to buy. In the US, the Graphic Artists Guild’s Handbook gives you all the information you need on pricing and ethical guidelines. It’s a wonderful book and you can order it online via www.graphicartistsguild.com or +1 212 791 3400.
It’s important not only to keep believing in yourself, but to also be realistic and keep striving to be the very best you can be. Keep drawing, push your boundaries creatively and build the best portfolio of work you possibly can. Make work you can be proud of and that reflects YOUR own and not someone else’s style and develop your own unique creative approach. I guess there’s room for copycats but to me that’s only stealing another’s hard work and originality. Others disagree.
It’s definitely hard to start with but some get lucky breaks quite quickly. I think it goes without saying that you may need to get a different job to pay the bills until you build up a good working reputation and client base. Remember, a lot is riding on you and your expertise so reliability is key, keeping to your deadlines and working as a team with your creative director. It’s they who have to report back to their client and their reputation is riding on your skill – their client will be spending a fortune of sorts on advertising etc. Having said all that it’s such a good feeling knowing you’ve done the best job you can for your client. Seeing your work in print after a happy collaboration is wonderful – this is a fine career!