"My advice to starting in the business is to TRAIN! STUDY! APPRENTICE! There's this myth that "I have talent" so I'm going to show up to LA and be famous. It's a craft that takes years (if not decades) to hone. I went to a 3 year acting school and then did 3 years of theatre touring, regional theatre and off and on broadway before I did any film or TV. And I studied the whole time. Find the best teachers/programs and work your ass off LEARNING for 10 years. Don't worry about fame. Worry about your art, your craft, your soul. That will lead to a rich, full life."Obviously he was talking about acting, but I think this advice applies to any creative career. Any art is really a lifelong learning process. You're always improving. My all time favorite blog that I follow is Gurney Journey, the blog of James Gurney (the creator of Dinotopia). He's considered to be a modern master, but he is constantly posting about art history, color theory, the science behind how our brains interpret images... his learning hasn't stopped just because he's an established artist. He's forever expanding his knowledge to improve his craft.
I also keep running into a general notion that Rainn Wilson gets at - that 'talent' doesn't really exist. That being good at any creative craft takes a LOT of hard work. I do think there are people who are more naturally gifted than others. But I've also seen the results of years of hard work where originally there was no indication of talent. The most notable example of this that I've seen is Jonathan Hardesty's famous thread on ConceptArt.org... Here (note: this is not the link to the actual thread, which is hundreds of pages long... it's a summary post).
I like the end of Rainn Wilson's statement, too - "Don't worry about fame. Worry about your art, your craft, your soul. That will lead to a rich, full life." I think the study of any creative craft, and the honing of a skill in that craft, is an extremely rewarding process. Lately I'm trying to temper my expectations of how far I can go with concept art (Lead Character Designer at Dreamworks... yeah, probably not in the cards, actually not sure if that's even a real position or not), especially starting so late, and just trying to concentrate on the joy it brings to my own life. I've had two classes so far at the Concept Design Academy, and I love it... getting the chance to learn and grow and challenge myself is something I really enjoy. (Even if my own lack of skill drives me up a wall sometimes. My teacher, Peter Han, says mistakes are really important to make. I really... REALLY hope he's right. Because I fucking hate making mistakes.)