As I was reading the reactions to the post "The First 24" on my Deviant Art page, I got to thinking how I left out an essential bit of the story...or at very least the deeper moral of the story. Which is that the gentleman who told me this was a seasoned pro. He had the ability to summon his creative powers on a moments notice. As in the night before a project is due. He also ran an entire cattle ranch that as he told me just about broke even. The Disney work was how he really made his money. The cattle ranch was his passion.
I didn't realize it than but what he was talking about was being a professional and having balance in your life. Having the confidence in your work and ability to know that when the time comes you can turn your creativity on and off. That's no easy ability to master.
Every artists struggles with generating the energy for commercial work but knowing you have the ability to perform on demand in the clutch is what separates the pros from the unemployed.
I've been in the art game for more than 20 years now. I often get asked questions by younger artists about where they should go with their career or art in general. The only advice I can give is to work really hard. It's like anything else. Becoming a doctor or being a pro athlete. You have to want it really bad and be willing to suffer through the process. If you don't love the process of art...I feel for you because everyone loves a finished piece. Not everyone loves the work it takes to make one.