The world of arts and craft is competitive, and it takes a great deal of time and effort to make your work stand out. That progression can be long and difficult, sometimes fraught with criticism and even rejection. But for the people willing to stick it out, the end is rewarding. We've brought you an interview with Cory Godbey, a Greenville artist who's spent a number of years making a name for himself in the illustration community. Having experienced both the ups and downs of perfecting his art, Cory understands the dedication and perseverance required of a professional artist. Still on the journey (but having come a long way) he has shared some advice and encouragement for artists who are continually striving to improve their work.
Indie Craft Parade: As a professional artist, you've worked for a number of years on perfecting your techniques and personal style. What do you think was the most important thing to focus on during those growing years?
Cory: For me it's always been a matter of working hard. Working hard and wanting it. It's also competing with yourself, I believe. Of course you can get discouraged looking at all the awesome things everyone else on the internet is doing. But remember to keep your head down, be professional, and work at it like nothing else matters. I'm still growing, I'm able to do things now that I know I couldn't a year ago. Same for last year and the year before. I don't think any true professional "arrives." They're constantly pushing themselves; they don't sit back and coast.
Indie Craft Parade: Your work seems very popular and well-received. Have you always enjoyed that success? Can you describe some of your experiences before your work was accepted at the level you wanted?
Cory: Well I don't know about that! That's very kind of you to say. With my personal work I can never gauge what will be popular. For example with my prints or with a show, I can never tell which will be the best received or most popular. I just do the work I like. I'm my only guideline, if that makes sense.
One of my biggest hurdles was being declined to a certain annual of illustration. I had already made it into more "prestigious" books, but that didn't matter to me as much as being accepted into this particular book. I applied for the last 4 or 5 years, rejected each time until this past year. You know what? Each time the rejection only made me better. I did my best to keep myself professional, focused, and I just worked even harder for next year. I give this example because I want people to know if they're rejected from something, they should use that frustration to improve. Just take it and work harder. Let it motivate, not frustrate.
Indie Craft Parade: What advice would you give to artists and crafters who are struggling with moving their work to the next level?
Cory: The advice I give to anyone who asks me that is basically the same advice I've been given by friends and mentors; just keep doing it. It takes time, effort, and heart to be a professional--to work at a level that you're proud of. I'm still working towards that level. Just decide what it is you want and fire towards that with abandon.