This is kind of me laying down stream of consciousness as far as what I've been thinking as far as the career lately. Figured writing it down might bring some clarity and make me more resolved to pursue the solutions.
So business has been bad lately. Potential reasons; pen and paper gaming industry is in decline, pool of artists has increased, other artists are lowering their rates, babysitting fees make small jobs unacceptable. I was absent for about 6 months working on the children's book,before that I wasn't soliciting for three months because business was good.

Every single one of those has probably helped make for a really bad phase at the moment. The other day I accepted some work at a page rate that I haven't taken in 3 years. Maybe I haven't been making a ton of money during my career but my page rates have always steadily been going up. It killed me a little bit that things are so dry that I had to accept that work. Then the next day I was going to work on an entry for a contest in the hopes that it would lead to work. Then I realized that it wouldn't add anything to my portfolio and the dimensions made it impossible to use as a potential print. I'm putting too many eggs in this basket. So I've kind of run into a career crisis. Things are not going up and I find myself wishing on stars that I somehow get work with the very biggest clients.

Weak Solutions
If I want to continue I have to (a)be willing to let my babysitters make more money than me, (b)increase ways I can make money off current work, (c)undercut others with ridiculously low cover rates, or (d)diversify the illustration work I offer. (D)I hated working on the children's book so I'm thinking pursuing art outside of the gaming and sci-fi/fantasy book industry probably isn't a good idea. (A)I hate the idea that what I earn is nullified by babysitters as it makes me feel like I'm paying someone so that I don't have to care for my son.I could choose to practically disappear from the industry by not hiring babysitters until my son starts preschool in a couple of years. I'm afraid I'd be eaten alive by depression if I take that route though. (C) I'm probably in this situation because of others undercutting rates so no need to further drive rates into the ground. (B)Making paintings rather than digital art could potentially help increase the amount of money I can make off each illustration. Companies have flirted with the idea of buying artwork from me that I already own the rights to but usually nothing ever comes of it so I think from now on, anything which I've created on my own will be made available as a limited edition print with the rights remaining with me. I need to also figure out how to have a shopping cart system on my website so that people can order prints. I tell people they can contact me about buying prints at X costs but nobody does and then they used to still buy the more expensive prints I had available through DA. That's a big sign that shopping cart systems make buyers more comfortable. Also they might just feel awkward writing an e-mail. The plan is to figure out Wordpress so that I can finally combine my website, blog and a print shop.Currently I don't understand a thing about Wordpress and the fact that I have redirecting to joeslucher.daportfolio makes it impossible to preview as far as I can tell.

Serious Solution
The big option that I'm more seriously considering is pursuing 3D wholeheartedly. I've been looking more at full-time art related jobs and many of the entry level 3D jobs offer pay that's quite impressive. In order for me to take a full-time job I would have to leap frog my wife's salary which is pretty significant and 3D appears to be the only way to do that. Unlike the children's book stuff, I really love working on Zbrush stuff.

So anyways, I plan on finishing up the stuff I got started for GenCon and then the plan is to start more serious training on Zbrush. Ofcourse if something great comes up from GenCon or Illuxcon I'll pursue that until things dry up again.

Anybody have recommended zbrush training? I'm planning to buy FormaCD which is 35hrs and is supposed to be more of a class format. Also planning to get the Eat3D DVDs.