It's been a crazy six months. Seriously, I think I blinked and it was February, and I blinked again and it was May. I've been doing lots of art, I've gone to two conferences, and I've written a book and I'm on the process of writing my second. So I guess that's where some of the time went. In addition to all that, I quit my part time job at a local yarn store and went full time with my artistic pursuits. I even signed up for art classes at my local art league!
Because I quit my day job, I've talked with several people in the last few months about how I make my life work and what I do to get by. While I'm still worried about money I think some of this is my general personality, not just the inherent uncertainty of freelancing.
Yesterday another aspiring (and inspiring) science illustrator asked me about what I do and how I do it. While I gave her my general outline and rambled on for a bit, I did eventually write this list:
- Figure out what you need a month to be comfortable. What are your monthly necessary expenses and what are your discretionary expenses?
- What work do you need to make that amount happen?
- What makes you happy and what doesn't make you happy? Not just work wise, but in your home, in your life, and in your future. Factor these things in to your work plan.
- Keep people you know updated on what you're doing using social media. Post photos of works in progress, things you've just finished, your workspace. This gets other artists following you and also lets scientists know what you're still up to. I really like Instagram because I find it an inspiring community, but I also share my images to Facebook where most of my science-field friends are.
- Say yes to projects that excite you (even if they're scary) and no to projects that sound like they will suck your soul/people you won't mesh with well. To be honest, one of the number one reasons I might turn down a gig is because I think the client and I will be a bad fit.
- Value your time and your skills. Remember that if you say no to the job that pays poorly or has a bad boss, you could be working on something for yourself (even if it's only sketching your cat or painting your toenails).
In the end, the scariest part about being a freelancer is if I don't succeed, that's all on me. For better or worse, I end up holding the ball. Right now, at least, that's okay with me.