Tips from Artist Deanna First on Making it in a Creative Field
A few weeks ago, we had the pleasure of attending an eye-opening event on Women in Cannabis. Among the incredibly inspiring and talented women featured at the event was Deanna First, a fashion illustrator who has worked with brands from Saks Fifth Avenue and Diane von Furstenberg, to Swarovski and Estee Lauder.
At the event, she was making these beautiful quick sketches of guests and their looks and I knew I had to get my portrait done. She’s incredibly talented and I wondered what sparked her passion for fashion illustration and how she got her footing in the industry. She was kind enough to sit down and share her knowledge with us, so read on for some tidbits on how to make it in a creative field!
When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
Deanna: I’ve wanted to be an artist since pre-school actually!
How did you find fashion illustration and what inspired you to pursue that?
Deanna: I didn’t know my passion would turn into fashion and beauty illustration until after I graduated from Kent State University where I studied Fashion Design. Professors didn’t really push being a full-time illustrator as an option. I went on to work in corporate for a few years before I decided to go for it. I got a part-time job for a few more years while I built up consistent clients until I quit that. I lost track of how long I’ve been doing it full-time! 3 or 4 years maybe.
How did you land your first paying job as an illustrator?
Deanna: I was taking smaller paying commissions here and there for a while. I really don’t remember my very first paying job since I’ve been doing it for a while but my first huge client was Saks Fifth Avenue. They reached out to me about a live sketch event and I have continued to work for them at special events throughout the years. They always have a special place in my heart.
What's the hardest hurdle you've had to overcome?
Probably mastering my mind. Working for myself (especially in the beginning) required spending a lot of alone time. Always being your own support system and believing in myself when things weren’t going as I envisioned was the biggest hurdle. Daily mediation has helped tremendously.
What advice would you give to someone trying to become an artist?
Have patience and practice gratitude. Don’t be too stuck to a set plan. Be ok with unexpected twists and turns along the way. I’ve learned so many lessons in business and about myself since following my passion.