I don’t have much formal art training, so perhaps the most valuable advice I can give is that you don't need to go to art school or have a degree to become a professional artist and make a decent living. That doesn't mean you can't pick up some useful info at a school--an introductory drawing class I took years ago taught me fundamentals that I still apply to this day. (Thank you, Prof. Vincent Castagnacci, University of Michigan!)

Later when I was in the role of an art director, I found that some of the best and most qualified graphic design and illustration applicants I had were the products of vocational schools, where real-life skills were being taught and the expectations for salary and entry-level work were far more realistic than those applicants coming from high priced schools.

And there's nothing like some instruction from someone whose work you admire, or who possesses skills and technique that you want to acquire. Many incredible professional artists also teach classes and workshops, perfect if you don't have the time, funds or desire to pursue a degree.

I started out as an entry-level junior illustrator for a screenprint business, and built on that experience with other illustration and design-related jobs until I had enough skills to break out on my own as a freelancer. After building a very successful solo business I decided to transition to fine art.

Rather than rely on trial and error to learn the fundamentals of the craft and the business, I sought out Daniel Greene and Burton Silverman, two artists I hold in very high esteem and took workshops with them. In my opinion, this sort of targeted learning is of more value than a bunch of required and expensive classes in which you may have little interest.