To begin you should know that there is no right answer for this question. I can promise you that. But It is my hope that I can shed some light and help establish a good jumping off point for you. This is something I wish I had known when I began art school, and can only imagine how it may have affected me then. Hindsight is always 20/20 but fear not, I’m here to share. I believe If you stop and reflect upon these three points it can greatly increase your chances for the transition from student to pro happen sooner. Here they are.
Before anything, you need to ask yourself why are you making art. If you can’t openly share it with people and stand behind it, then you may want to find a new career path or change your reason. If the client can’t admire why you create, why would they pay you for it? Your purpose should go beyond just wanting to make cool characters for that one AAA game company you love so much. it puts you in a box. Boxes are bad. BAD.
This is so important. How do you sway your potential client that you are the artist for the job? How do you make them trust that you can accomplish their needs? The answer is portfolio continuity. Fifty paintings at various levels of finish is not going to make anyone believe you can create a professional level. Instead, try showing only your best ten paintings with the same level of finish. It rounds you out as artist and helps build that potential client’s perception of who you are and what you are capable of.
Cast aside your pride and learn how people view your work. Does it inspire? Does it bore? Are you missing some fundamental principles? It’s art, everyone is going to have an opinion. If it’s not enjoyable, then your intention or presentation need to evolve. This is usually every artist’s first chance to tread professional territory.
That wraps up the three points. I hope this was helpful. All in all you need to be your own curator. Create the space you want you and your art to be a part of. Good Luck!