“Every artist was first an amateur”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
I would first recommend honing your traditional art skills before making the transition to digital. Like a paintbrush or pencil, Photoshop is just a tool and not a miracle worker. The knowledge you gain from traditional rules (like composition) will pay off when it comes time to go digital.
Practice, practice, practice! After almost two decades in this field, I am still developing as an artist and learning new skills thanks to practice. Like any profession, if you love what you do, you won't work a day in your life. All the practice you do should be fun!
I do recommend tutorials for learning Photoshop. However, the teaching method I used was trial and error. Learning the tools on your own will help you develop your own unique process and style.
Gain exposure by getting your work into as many community based websites as possible. You never know who might see your work there. That is actually where most of my clients first saw my work.
The meaning of life is to find your gift.
The purpose of life is to give it away.
Have an understanding of modern business practices and communication. Skill in art is only half the battle.
Oh, and never miss a deadline!
A strong portfolio is more import than a diploma or where it came from.
A fast desktop computer is essential. Don't rely on laptops unless it's connected to a large monitor. An investment into a tablet can be beneficial also.
Lastly, find your own style that suits your artistic desires. There are so many talented artists out there today - some with mind blowing skills. The best way to stand out is to create something unique.
I do not believe I would have any satisfaction with my own art if I felt that it looked just like someone else’s.