Short and sweet: To all you young and/or upcoming artist selling your wares and skills, GET A DEPOSIT! I just spent 30 plus hours on a piece for someone for a way too low quote and one hour from being finished with it, I am notified by the client that they no longer needed it. My policy up until this was to not take money until the customer was satisfied and would use the art, but my heady idealism just crashed and burned. The silver lining in this story is I can probably use some of the images from this art for other things, and may, overtime get what I was expecting in pay. The other lesson is pay attention to your reservations about jobs you don't feel good or excited about to begin with and learn to say no in favor of something better!
I am not sure if genetics plays a significant role in passing talent from one generation to the next, but I am persuaded that environment totally influenced my abilities in art. My father never did art professionally, but he demonstrated skills that could have been developed to that level. My brother also inspired me with his artistic endeavors, but I don't believe he ever reached his potential either. And then there is me. Bitten by the art bug early and years later, it has grown into my life's passion. With my father's praise and instruction, I gained popularity in school, that most kids as shy as I was, only dreamed of. In Jr. High, I sold quick sketches requested by friends for $1.00. During high school, I sent out cartoons to numerous magazines with nothing but rejection letters to show for it. Later my parents left a copy of a magazine open on the coffee table with a check next to my first published cartoon on a visit home from college. Now my dream and retirement plan is to do art for a living until I drop. This drive and passion were sparked and stoked by those early days with dad showing me that when you draw a house at an angle, the back of the house is not a straight line, but rather it should follow the angles of the slanted roof and walls at the front of the house. Thanks for that lesson dad, and so many others!
Persistence is a critical ingredient in "dream building"! The world out there is full of talented and accomplished "reject-ers" "negative thinkers" "tried that once-ers" and "afraid of failing-ers". The rare "encourager" is often very hard to come by, and the ones you do find are probably friends who say nice things because they don't want to hurt your feelings! The point here is, you have got to keep trying, no matter what anyone else's says, thinks, or how they react to what you are trying to accomplish. Is your dream worth the effort? Only you can answer that. I can tell you this, my dream is. My dream is worth more than life itself and therefore I will never stop pursuing it until my last breath! Who knows, maybe even a couple days after that!