What I am saying is that if you want to achieve something, then you follow the path towards that goal. Along the way you will meet people. Some of them will see what you are doing, like it, like you - and choose to assist you in getting to where you want.
After leaving art school I learnt this lesson a few times. Once in Australia and once in Japan. In Australia it lead to having my animation being broadcast daily as the new opening credits for a very popular TV show. In Tokyo it meant that I was able to return to my high school and get paid to shoot and direct a music video of my devising that included a scene of a beautiful girl in a mini skirt dancing on the desk of the high school principal in an act of defiance and celebration.
First: Sydney. I had recently graduated from art school and decided to try and make some money as a freelance illustrator. I put together a portfolio with some of my work and started doing the rounds; visiting art directors of magazines, ad agencies and publishers. Generally, it was usually one job for every six or seven meetings. I got a few breaks - did a few illustrations for Playboy magazine, some comics for a new fashion magazine and one or two other small jobs.
I had always liked the aesthetics of a free magazine called Billy Blue. The content was light but they had great covers. Very arty. Many of them were done by a then relatively unknown artist called Ken Done. His work was awesome even back then - loose and fresh. I did a few mock up cover ideas of my own and went in to see the art director, Ross Renwick. He was a great guy and positive. He didn't run any of my covers but hooked me up with his second in charge - a guy about my age, mid twenties - Jamie Barnes.
Jamie really took his time looking through my work and I could tell that he really loved it. He had great taste and could pick the strongest and most interesting works with ease. He particularly likes experimental work I was doing with Polaroid SX-70s. We clicked. He never ended up getting me any work at Billy Blue, despite the fact that every month I would submit a new cover idea proposal. He did, however, welcome me into his circle of creative friends which included two amazingly talented, visionary, free spirited art directors, Graeme Davey and Mike Heffernan.
Through Graeme I ended up getting a regular gig for Waves surf magazine doing a monthly full page, full colour comic as well as some fun work for General Pants that we collaborated on. Mike got me my dream assigment of the time - an album cover (Life's a Gamble by the Oz rock legends The Radiators), front and back, plus lyrics insert - without any restrictions. The brief: "Go for it!" I did wild and crazy collage, front and back, sourcing cut-outs in the hundreds and compiling them, old-school cut and past style with scissors and glue (Photoshop had not been invented). I also got paid a super premium amount for the work. Mike loved it the record execs loved it and the band - who were each incorporated in the back cover art - loved it, too.
On the strength of that work and Jamie's backing and initiative I was invited to animate a promo for Channel Ten in a collaboration with an animator, whiz kid, Ray Van Stenwyk. We went to town. That led to being commissioned to do a new opening credit animation (shot on super 16mm film, one frame a time, using a custom frame designed and built by Ray). It was for the very popular afternoon kid's show Simon Townsend's Wonder World. It ran for many years.
Tokyo: I'd been working as a freelance illustrator in Tokyo for a year of so. This involved riding my Kawasaki 650zx all over Tokyo with my portfolio on my back, cold-calling art directors from magazines, design houses and ad agencies. I met so many different people. Only maybe one in ten ADs actually got my style, but they really got it and used me straight away.
One of these was a great man called Ken Arai. He was the AD of a Magazine House popular culture mag called Popeye. The biggest selling mag of the day. He gave me a regular gig that lasted years. Four illustrations in every issue. It was a huge break and I had a lot of fun playing with it - and in expensive Tokyo; loved the regular paycheck, too. Money for game centres, yakitori and sake!
On the strength of that work and my Oz animation reel, I was suddenly, and surprisingly offered to direct a music video for a Japanese pop star, Taro Shinohara. Again I was given full creative control. The song was called 'Crying Youth'. My concept was we'd go back to my old high school to shoot a fantasy sequence with a rebellious Taro and a sexy girl (I cast my wife, Bianca) dancing wildly on the principal's desk. It was a very satisfying and vindicating experience. I threw in some animation and inventive titles and it was a big hit. It all came from someone saying, 'Well, you are not for us... but why don't you go and see this guy." Funny thing is I almost didn't go to the meeting because I was sick of rejection - but something nudged me along.
So, just like it says in the Rad's title track - you play the game, roll the dice and hope to get lucky. Sometimes you do.