Dear conceptart.org community.
I feel that I am in need of some professional advice.
I'm currently in the process of finishing up my BFA in fine arts at a State University. I had my BFA show this past spring and now it's becoming all too apparent that the cocoon of academia is quickly dissolving. Anyway, I've only had a couple freelance gigs, illustrating book covers for some small-time publishers. These jobs pretty much fell into my lap and aside from them I don't really have any professional experience as an illustrator or concept artist.
My employment as of late has consisted of fairly cushy jobs such as digital image restoration, assistant curator to my university's image library as well as the assistant to the Arts Promotions Director here. However, as these jobs have only been open to students, I have no illusions that I'll probably end up in some retail position on the outside to hold me over. Local gallery jobs, graphic arts jobs, and photo finishing jobs are few and far between and very competitive amongst an already experienced base. With this in mind, I plan on pursuing my MFA after taking a year off from school so in the future I'll at least be able to supplement my income in some academic setting. And really most of my plans will only end up holding me over till something else comes along. On my own, I've been working on my portfolio, trying to get whatever exposure I can locally and online, but without any significant monetary results thus far it's hard to keep myself going.
I guess what I'm finally getting at is the question, where do I begin? I've just started applying and sending samples of my portfolio to a few freelance job postings found on these forums but with little luck. I'm afraid that I'm simply a terrible entrepanuer and know of know where else I could be looking. I'm a little unsure of what I should be searching for as well and what I can expect to find. As far as what I want or think I can manage best at this point, I'm still more of a creature/character designer. Though I'm trying to expand into a broader range of subject matter with the intentions of becoming more versatile. My clients thus far have been small publishers seeking cover illustrations and bands independently producing self-released albums. The pay has been nothing substantial but it's all served to produce portfolio fodder. I'm really keeping my options open to any possibilities in order to expand my artistic horizons and I have no intentions to specialize in any one thing this early in the game. However, I find the notion of diversifying my portfolio for the sake of diversifying it a little tough to grasp as I’ve always been the type to handle assignments as they come. The question is, how do I find them?
Any advice would be much appreciated.