If you’re an ambitious go-getter just joining the workforce, professional life can look like a Disney movie waiting to play out. But an inevitable, invaluable, and hard truth is that your job probably won’t be filled with wise-cracking genies and calypso crabs—at least not for the first ten years.

Working is usually more like a David Lynch film: awkward people talking at you in cryptic phrases, one day blurring into the next until you can’t separate dream from reality. (It should be noted that some people enjoy David Lynch’s work, both literally and in this metaphor.)

All of this is a long-winded way of saying: don’t expect your first job to be your dream job, or even a fun job. Take Mr. Kiji for example, a veteran illustrator. After thousands of hours of hard work, he now gets to cruise down Main Street, USA once in a while, though he still spends most of his time on Mulholland Drive.

For Chapter 51: Leaders, we spoke to Mr. Kiji about how he got his start, and what advice he has for young illustrators looking to get to where he is now.