Hunt Emerson: Mistakes to Avoid + Tips for Success

I have made a lot of mistakes, missed a lot of opportunities, and made a fool of myself in public on many occasions. It is the fruit of this experience that I’m called on now to offer you.

Birmingham based cartoonist Hunt Emerson shares his advice for creatives starting out, with his 5 mistakes to avoid and tips for success. Check out some of the links we’ve added to this article of good online resources that could help you on your way to creative success!

I am a dinosaur. I come from a different time, when we were offered a free university education, when casual work was easily available and jobs meant a solid financial start in life.

Much of my experience has been with low-budget work, independent publications and community projects. It keeps me alive, but it is not equivalent to work in Advertising, PR, or Journalism. I am not qualified to comment on that sphere.

I think I have a socialistic conscience, and I have always looked for fairness in what I do. But at the same time, I have made a lot of mistakes, missed a lot of opportunities, and made a fool of myself in public on many occasions. It is the fruit of this experience that I’m called on now to offer you..

5 Things I didn’t do

Get an education

I was a foolish, immature youth, and, for reasons that I can no longer remember, I left my art college course in Birmingham after one year. I have regretted this waste of my education ever since, as it means I have no formal qualifications, and I don’t have the network of peers that seems to go with a degree. My advice is to get whatever education you can!

Learn about business , accounting and tax

This is boring but of great value. You will need to learn to control your own finances, you will quite possibly want to set up a company, and you must be on top of tax affairs. I never had any of this type of education in money matters, and still have only the barest understanding of how it works. My advice is to sign on to a basic accounting course of some sort at an early stage.

For help with this try:

Barclays Money Skills


Learn to Network

Most people these days do “networking” with a lot more fluidity than my generation did, and do not need me to advise them on this. Your network will include creative contemporaries, but you should also make an effort to get to know lawyers, teachers, accountants and other “establishment professionals”. They provide a depth to your network that will be of benefit to you in the future. My field – cartooning – is rather solitary, requiring long periods of working alone, and I have never been naturally very gregarious. This, although it resulted in a large body of work, has proved to be a disadvantage to my career development.

Places for creative connections:

Silicon Milkroundabout


Keep up to date with new technology

Again, young people today don’t need to be told this. I am not an “early adopter” of new technologies, and am always trying to avoid too much involvement as I just don’t understand what’s going on in the internet and social media. Not a good thing!

Good for Social Media and new technology:

Creative Bloq


Learn to Teach

Teaching is something that you may have avoided, and may not be drawn to, but it is a valuable extra accomplishment, and can be very stimulating. Children are fun to work with, and workshops and class sessions in schools can be a useful source of income.

Final thoughts..

To make your career in the creative arts you must be obsessed by what you’re doing. You must love it more than money, more than television, more than Twitter and Facebook.

This post is taken from Hunt Emerson’s speech at THIS IS IT BIRMINGHAM. More on this event HERE

View more of Hunt’s work HERE



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