Featured Pro Portfolio: Surendra Rajawat

Surendra Rajawat didn’t always have an interest in drawing or painting. His connection to art was mostly limited to small creative assignments for grade school while growing up, and his occasional tinkering with computer drawing programs while learning to code in preparation for engineering school.

When his anticipated engineering career didn’t work out, Surendra went back to the drawing board – literally. We spoke with Surendra to learn how he’s worked hard to develop a thriving freelance career for himself as a concept artist. Surendra also shared what he sees as potential challenges for artists entering the field today, and why he’s assembled his portfolio with the ArtStation website builder.

How did you start your career as a concept artist?

When the result of my engineering entrance exam came, my rank wasn’t so good. So, either I had to take a gap year to prepare for the exam, or join the army. Taking a gap year just for studying was not okay with me, so I started looking for other career options: tourism, photography, film, gaming (which most Indian youths don’t like to go for).

Since I was leaning towards the gaming industry, I decided to join a private institute to become an artist. Unfortunately, the institute wasn’t good enough; there was no campus selection or help to get a job after completing the course. Luck hit me after my first few months of joining the institute when I came across web tutorials. The internet was the prime place to learn and share my artwork and to make my portfolio strong enough to land me my first job.

On ArtStation you’ve been sharing your daily sketches for quite some time; how did that habit start, and what has it been like doing this activity?

The whole thing started with all the depressive news of the pandemic and lockdown. I was getting so into the news that in March last year I realized I need to put my time towards drawing. After a few days of this, Procreate promoted my work on its profile page. I was flooded with a few thousand followers, and this cultivated a kind of responsibility in me and motivation to be consistent with my habit of daily sketching.

Initially, it was hard to draw every day but after it crossed 100, it became a habit. Whenever I am lacking in willpower to draw or have an art block, I just remind myself of when I had a full-time job and I had to work nine to six every day. So, I manage to take out one to two hours daily for this. I think the whole thing is like pushing yourself to go to the gym daily 😃

What are some of the unique rewards and challenges of being a freelance artist?

As a freelance artist, you get a chance to work on a variety of projects from both the gaming and film industries. That helps us to gain more knowledge and enhance our other skills as well. I can earn a better income than a full-time job. It also saves your commute time and you can work from anywhere anytime.

The main challenge I first faced was a lack of proper time management. Now that mess doesn’t happen. Also, I really miss the office environment and my colleagues. Making new connections (not online connections) or friends is also hard as a freelancer.

Overall, I see more pros than cons to being a freelance artist.

What’s your favorite ArtStation Pro feature, and how does it connect to your portfolio development?

I know there are a lot of Pro features, but my main ones are the Pro badge on my profile and the website builder. I also really like the website templates. They are built for portfolio purposes and it is easy to navigate them in few clicks.

It is not only best for the artists but accessible for clients to check out the portfolio. That’s why I opt for ArtStation for my website.

Surendra uses the Lava theme to help organize his professional projects. See what that looks like on his website >

What do you think is one of the largest obstacles for artists today?

Hmm! This is very hard for me to answer because now all the learning materials are available for very cheap or free which wasn’t the case 10 to 15 years ago. So, there is no lack of resources.

In my opinion, social media madness. Many artists (especially beginner artists) are putting in a good amount of energy to increase their fanbase. Having a huge fanbase doesn’t mean you are going to have a stable income or projects. I think many beginner artists shouldn’t focus on likes or getting followers. Instead, keep working and improving your skills and the rest will follow.

Now, that doesn’t mean don’t have an account on social media because it is now very important to be present on multiple platforms, especially ArtStation and LinkedIn. Just don’t get mad for not having followers or likes.

Can you share a sentence or two of advice to others looking to enter your field?

Whatever you want to do, do it with all your efforts.

Please don’t rush, just take your time and sleep well 😊

See more of Surendra’s work on his portfolio website.

Find out more about ArtStation premium websites here.

Read more ArtStation Pro Portfolio interviews here.

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