I don't really know who else to ask this, as not many people listen or respond or don't really know. I'm 16 year old furry from the Czech republic, striving towards being artist.
I'm looking forward to moving to the US when I'm older and I was thinking.. how possible is it to work full-time as an artist/fursuit maker? I don't know how my degree is going to help me because degrees here in Europe work differently. I will leave with woodcarving degree.
I'm more than willing to get a job outside the furry fandom, but being a furry is big part of me and art is one of the only things I genuinely enjoy and value in life. I really want to like my job.
I worry there's already too many artists/fursuit makers, so there's no need for me to do the same thing and provide the same services. And also I'm worried if the fact that I wouldn't have art degree would make a difference. A lot of people say that I'm talented and could already make living off of what I do, but I'm honestly very unsure. I'm afraid there's no possible way to fulfill my dreams. Then, also, I have friends who would gladly help me out.
I'm feeling a little lost about this issue; it keeps me very unmotivated. So, thank you for advance!
Mika Kay (age 16; Czech Republic)
P.S ; I love what you do, its very wholesome to help people like this.
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Dobrý Den, Mika Kay!
In the fandom, you will find that pretty much all fursuit makers and artists are freelancers and do not work for a corporation of any kind. Even the larger, more successful fursuit makers are small operations that aren't, generally, seeking new employees. This is because, unlike many other products, fursuits are pretty much all custom-made to match people's fursonas. Therefore, fursuits are not made on an assembly line, which would make such a business more conducive to becoming larger and hiring more people. Now, there are costume companies (many in Asia) that make standardized costumes, but these are all quite inferior in quality. Yeah, they are cheaper, but they are terrible. Odin Wolf has posted a couple of hilarious videos about counterfeit and fake fursuits from companies like Alibaba (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yP_u3HaFYyM) and even Walmart (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDPX4t-8zdQ). You are not going to get quality from such places, and you do not want to work for them if you have any self-respect.
No, fursuit makers are typically individuals or, sometimes, small family operations, and it is very difficult to make a living at it. Even my maker, Beastcub, who is extremely talented and sells quality (and not inexpensive) fursuits, has trouble getting by (I highly recommend her, by the way, to any of my readers). Similarly, there are not companies that put out tons of furry art like some kind of firm that hires starving artists to paint oils for hotel lobbies. No, artists are freelance individuals, too.
Your concern should not, however, be a fear that there are too many fursuit makers. One can never have too many quality makers in a fandom in which waiting queues for fursuits are typically 6 months to a year or longer. If you're really excellent at making fursuits, then you will find customers. You will, of course, need to advertise your services, which is a whole other subject.
With your background in woodworking, you're going to need to be a freelancer for that, too, unless you want to do something such as architectural carving. This is a really cool field to get into, in my humble opinion, and there are companies you can work for who do it. What this entails is making carvings for things such as corbels, columns, mullions, staircases, brackets, and so on that are used in high-end construction. If I were you, I would look into it. See if companies such as Art for Everyday, Inc. (artforeveryday.com) are hiring (note: most such companies that I've seen are in Canada, not the United States). Another option is making wooden furniture. Again, there are many good Canadian companies (are you dead-set on moving to the United States or might Canada be an option for you?)
Anyway, when it comes to the arts such as painting, fursuit making, and wood carving, most people go freelance and/or open their own small companies rather than work for a large corporation. My recommendation for you would be to research how to start your own small business. If you are asking about U.S. employment because you want to obtain a work visa with employer sponsorship, then, again, I would recommend Canada over the United States, especially in your field of work. If you can find a Canadian firm to sponsor you, this will help you a lot in getting a Canadian visa, and, as I said, there are more opportunities in woodworking in Canada than in the United States. Another way to get a visa, of course, would be to become a student here. That would have more possibilities for you, if you were interested in attending university in the States.
In the meantime, I would recommend that you work on your carvings or fursuit design in the Czech Republic and build your portfolio. You can also start building your reputation in the furry fandom by accepting commissions from Americans. Because of our internet culture, you don't have to live in the United States to sell products here.
I hope this was helpful. Good luck!
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