Illustration is one of the most expressive and experimental modes of design and/or art. As an illustrator myself I find it a medium to not just communicate a story of my own life but of others as well. There are times though that I am not able to do so or worry about how I will stretch my career as an illustrator over the next 30-40 years. If you have symptoms of sweaty palms, procrastination, clients who want you to work for exposure syndrome, competition and a shelf full of empty sketchbooks.
First, let me share a few things I did to motivate myself and hope these simple steps hopefully can help.
The most important thing, take it slow. There tends to be a point due to the influence of social media where most artists want to get famous too quickly. And also want to mint money within a month of making the decision to become an illustrator. Well it definitely doesn’t work that way. Mostly reduce their shelf life and the will to learn or experiment with techniques to execute work.
So take sometime, every artist makes their mark if the process consists of patience and positivity. If you feel you can’t find your own way, join a studio, learn the tricks from a professional and discover yourself. You can also collaborate with fellow freelance illustrators.
Next, get inspired but don’t copy. I have observed that people tend to feel the need to follow market trends. Never churn your creative juices on something you don’t sympathise or empathise with.
For client work, stand your ground always on providing only original work. If it’s inspired from somebody’s work credit them if you post it on social media. Don’t obtain professional or personal gains through another person’s idea. The art world is chaotic already and you don’t need to throw in a copied work into the mix. The joy of creating something of your own makes your heart swell with joy and helps you move forward always.
This is one of my favorite points also something I am trying myself to achieve is to be versatile. I feel in the market today the biggest element that creates chaos or confusion is an artist wanting to find his/her own style. Finding your own style has its one pro that is you can turn your work into a unique language and you get recognised for it.
The con is it restricts you. One may become too comfortable with it. So indulge yourself in art books, movies etc to inspire yourself and constantly experiment with mediums to create an inventory of content and styles.
Know your worth. This is a climb of time and patience. Being offered too less for a project or nothing at all brings an artist down the most. As a freelancer, this is the most challenging and stressful part to figure out. Don’t shy away from getting help. Ask fellow artists on how to go about charging a client.
The guidance is a great push towards you ultimately landing a project of your choice and exclusive of bargains. Just keep this in mind, materials to execute your work digitally or traditionally have to be bought or maintained. Let’s keep general bills mind as well. Though it is a push towards making money but it’s a basic mode of motivation for any human.
Also, don’t forget to follow artists. I use to be slightly demotivated or envious of successful illustrators. I found a healthy way around this on how to get motivated by their art. My explanation here is purely based on the brilliance of their work and not on how many followers they garner in a month.
First, I look out for their process. How many hours they spend on their work. The materials they use and most importantly how they use it. Always watch videos of artists who inspire you. You tend to get a glimpse of their workspace. They create an environment that complements their nature of work. That is something even I have put to use and developed a small safe haven of my own to work within.
Finally, I would like to say, just be passionate and bold of what you do for yourself or for others to see. The field of illustration can get intimidating but its not impossible to make a mark. Hopefully these words were encouraging to help someone take a step closer to being original, experiment and practice in those empty dusty sketchbooks stacked away for months 🙂
Published in Issue 48
A Freelancer’s Life in India! Every day, with a dream of ‘Being Your Boss,’ many creative professionals jump into the pool of freelancing. But many are not well prepared for the life of the freelancer, which brings many challenges along with benefits. So to explore further, we interviewed many freelance illustrators and designers to get answers to the question you should ask before taking the final call of becoming your boss!
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