Before I graduated in 2005, I wrote a short post on the www.theISpot.com forums, asking essentially "How can I be successful as a young illustrator?"
One of the first responses from another forum member read simply, "Be James Jean."
It wasn't a helpful response and it was mildly insulting. However, I looked up James Jean and immediately understood. I needed to improve if I was going to compete in the world of young illustrators. I interviewed him over the phone soon thereafter (I'm pretty sure I woke him up when I called) and he's actually a really nice guy, which makes it very hard to hate him for his talent.
He's the cover illustrator for the comic book, Fables, and his work can be seen in all the major magazines. His first solo art show, Kindling, opened recently at the Jonathan LeVine Gallery in NYC.