I wonder how many will take that on board! I didn't do much at school, except in Art and English, and later, Technical Drawing, because a) I enjoyed them, and b) I found them relatively easy, despite not being able to spell very well. However, I put a lot of effort into model making, and slept amidst various projects, working on them late into the night and starting again early before school. Apparently I sleep-walked noisily past my mother's bedroom one night, and she confronted me on the landing, asking me where I was going. "I'm going to get some sandpaper!" "Don't be silly, you can't get sandpaper in the middle of the night!" "Oh. Well I'll go for a piss then."
The awakening for me was meeting James Allington, and seeing his illustrations - realising that here was something I really wanted to do, and felt that I might be able to do. At that moment I started to really work, and a year after I left school with four 'O' level GCEs I realised that with the same effort that I was now constantly employing I could have cleaned up in 'O's and got some 'A's. Never mind...
As for panic, I think that was mostly caused by lack of work, but I do like a challenge, so tight deadlines were not so much panic-inducing as a spur, with periods of panic when things went wrong. Even when I discovered that agencies were shortening deadlines to cover their backs, and in fact there was often another week to spare, I always met those 'false' deadlines as a matter of professional and personal pride, and if that meant working ludicrous hours, so be it. The satisfaction of delivering artwork that the client was delighted with, on time, was often greater than being paid. Not always though...
Your comments on work and school struck a chord. I hated school and left without any O levels back in 1963. At 15 went into the Army as a Junior Tradesman and found I had to do my O levels then. When I left the Army after 5 yrs, I went to work for the Navy as a civilian and it was during that period that I found out about Technical Illustration. My Sister had a place on the Interior Design course at Portsmouth College of Art and pointed me in the direction of the course. I went to see the course on an open day and that was it. I had no art qualifications but I could draw, and got in on my drawing ability. I went on to take O levels in Art and Engineering drawing, but that was it. Found it difficult for the first term, then went from strength to strength. Portsmouth had a good Technical Illustration course run by Don Spetch. Left the course with the old City and Guilds Finals qualifications. I am sure there are a few people out there who remember them!
There were other good courses in the Country too, at that time. Sadly it has all gone. Tech pubs these days use solids to produce the illustrations - not much fun there. However I have seen solids starting to be used for IPC and maintenance manuals where they are used for animations. They work well and I think that in the near future all manuals will be on a DVD and be animated.
After working for an agency and then Flight for 30+ years, I found myself having to work as a self employed person.
Lack of work and being ill are the only two down sides of being self employed. You are constantly looking for work, you do get used to it, but it took some years. However working for yourself beats having people above you, who in a some cases have'nt got a clue.
The main qualifications needed to produce cutaways are: - 1. Being able to draw from life, 2. Having an intense interest in technical subjects and wanting to find out what goes on under the casing. (Technical knowledge can be acquired if you are really interested) 3. and lastly where most people fall down having the stickablility to work for long hours day after day, with a deadline approaching. The last one is where I have seen most people fail.
The interesting thing is that all the blokes who get there share a common sense of humour. You have to have a laugh or you would go mad!!