I grew up in Glasgow and spent a lot of my early life drawing. I hadn't yet realised I am introverted, but I was shy and the solitude suited me. My cousin was also into drawing and we both obsessed about movies and comics.
Gary is very talented and he was always my benchmark. His work pushed me to improve as the bar kept getting higher. By the late 90's my drawing had shifted more towards digital work. In 1988 Gary got his big break from Marvel UK and went onto work in comics full time.
What I worked on
Every now and then I had commissions, but I drew a lot for myself. I had evolved a labourious pointillist style and my early pieces often took months to finish. That changed in later years when I found a simpler and quicker comic style.
I provided a lot of art to various RPG Fanzines in the 80's and 90's. Including the final issues of classic RuneQuest magazine, Tales of the Reaching Moon.
What I learned
The world needs its dreamers. School and I didn't get along. Nothing serious. I was a bit of a space cadet. I struggled to focus on anything I wasn't interested in. My exasperated parents spoke to my teacher about it. His response was "The world needs it's dreamers". It sounds like he may have understood me, even if I didn't.
Do things that scare you. I've had the honour of being Best Man on three separate occasions. That's three wedding speeches (one of which was in French).
Introverts find public speaking traumatic. So I resolved to do more of it. Do it so often that it becomes normal. That has helped. I now give conference talks a few times a year and I help run our local tech meetup. I'm still introverted and often awkward but the shyness has gone.
Don't give up. I was a big tabletop gamer in my teens and tried to get my artwork into White Dwarf magazine and Imagine magazine. I still have their rejection letters. I also spent a month working on a painting for an art competiton in Computer and Video Games magazine. They never announced the results and it more than likely ended up in a skip.
That sucks. But you have to pick yourself up and keep trying. Every try is another chance at the goal. You can only get there if you're still playing the game.