Please read Noah Bradley's article, Don't go to Art School if you are giving any thought to higher education as an artist. I was left with 90k of debt after attending C.C.A.D, and that was with a very large scholarship. Don't get me wrong, I don't have a problem with C.C.A.D, I have a problem with the price of art education as a whole.
I was once told, "You don't go to school to learn software. You go to school to learn how to talk about your art." From my experience (4 colleges) this statement has proven true more often than not. If you want to learn how to talk about art go to art school. If you want to learn a program, buy it and use it everyday. Create a kick ass portfolio and you'll get a job. Some of the most talented people I've ever worked with DID NOT GO TO SCHOOL.
Experience is key. Get the most experience you can when you're starting down your path as an artist. Work for free if it will guarantee you a unique experience to work with someone you admire, but only if you benefit from it. Don't work for free on your neighbors website or your mom's boss' logo. No! They have to pay for that.
Be humble. The most important thing about starting your career as an artist is to be humble. You will have many people telling you how to do your job that are, and are not educated to do so. Treat them the same. You will learn something from everyone.
Patience. This will be the hardest task you'll be asked to perform, but if you master it you'll have a long, lasting career.
Educate. Try to educate your clients in the process of working with them. They'll respect you for it. Don't blindly follow their every instruction just cause they are paying the bills. Having said that, don't be pushy about it. If they are not seeing things your way, compromise or do as your instructed. Sometimes making the logo bigger is the only way to make them happy, LOL.
Last but not least, be happy. If you do not enjoy being an artist don't get into the field. It can be soul crushing at times, and other times it can be the highest rush you'll ever experience. There's nothing like the first time seeing your work printed in a national magazine or the first time your commercial hits the airwaves. It's exhilarating!
More on the subject in future posts.