October 2019 marked a new chapter in my career and in my life too. A year on this month I reach the mountain of year one and today I’m reflecting on the year gone by since I went part time at my design role and took the partial plunge into self employment and onwards into the unknown.
I say unknown, but I had a dream or feeling in my heart and an excitement about how things would go. That feeling drove me along with, perhaps, some delusional ideals too but I like to think I dream big and my passion for my craft and the excitement of success and what the potential could be really out weighed any negative vibes. So October 2019 I took the leap and onwards I went!
Setting Up and setting forth!
First up I set up a business account for cash flow and also set up Quickbooks so I could manage expenses, invoicing and run reports and all the blah-de-blah you have to keep on top of. I’m running a business after all so the admin side of things is important to have set up and ready to go!
With all that out of the way I produced a tonne of promotional zines and with some postcards I mailed out to every illustration agency, creative agency, publication, creative director and art director I could think of! Everyone and anyone who I wanted to work with! I raided Linkedin and contacted old colleagues and people I had freelanced with in the past and said “Hey, I’m available, let’s make something awesome together!”
Despite my best efforts with the zines and contacting people I didn’t get much in the way of feedback. Was I disheartened? Not really actually!
Despite my best efforts with the zines and contacting people I didn’t get much in the way of feedback. Was I disheartened? Not really actually! For me I was doing something, I was hustling and this is part of the game of self promotion… The excitement of the dream was still buzzing away… OK…. maybe that was all the coffee I like to consume too no doubt!
But still, I pressed on and I’m pleased to say I did have work pretty early on despite the zines not really working out.
Onwards with work!
I remembered I had actually been hustling and working my butt off for a few years so I was already kind of established and on the go before I went into all this.
From the get go I was a bit surprised that I actually had work come in. Maybe it was the universe answering my prayers and saying ‘here you go, son’… but then I remembered I had actually been hustling and working my butt off for a few years so I was already kind of established and on the go before I went into all this. I think that’s an important thing to note for any of you guys taking the plunge and that is to try and establish yourself a bit first!
Over this year I’ve had the pleasure of working on some illustrative branding pieces which were bleeding awesome! I did a couple of logo designs, social media campaigns and even did some mini murals with the Nudge Community through a competition presented to the members of the Plymouth Design Forum. I illustrated an adult reading book and even a children’s book of my own with my friend and uncle.
My biggest job was a 6 month long animation project where I animated the work of the fabulous Helen Lang. I can’t really say too much about that project at the moment but in time I’ll do a case study. This particular project marked a turning point for me as it was my biggest animation commission and I feel well seasoned in this now and can officially call myself an animator as well as an illustrator and graphic designer…. Whoop whoop!!
Onwards with a shop!
The shop side of things has been going well and from a creative point of view it has opened me up to new ways of thinking and working.
Whilst I had been blessed with an influx of regular work I wanted to explore other realms of income and creativity and give people out there an opportunity to own my work too. With that, I enlisted the help of a friend who helped me set up a Woocommerce shop on my WordPress site so I could sell my art. The shop side of things has been going well and from a creative point of view it has opened me up to new ways of thinking and working. I’m pleased to say that I have had sales and even set up Instagram shopping too which is directly linked to my shop. This has helped massively in making my art more available.
Onwards to the future!
This first year has been epic and a lot of hard work and ultimately, just keeping on keeping on! One mantra of mine has come from a Gaz Coombes song called “Matador”:
I’ll take all the pain and scars of war, I’ll face the beast and fight like a matador!
This for me means that no matter what is thrown at me during this venture I’ll face it all with grace, confidence and respect for the beast that is self employment. Sure there’s been a burn out or two, some dead ends with some jobs but that excitement and feeling in my heart really hasn’t stopped buzzing. I’m doing it. I’m in the mix. I’m at the party and I’m having a great time and I don’t want the last orders to be called or for the lights to be turned on just yet and for the party to close. I’m not done yet and feel I’m just getting into the groove on the dancefloor of freelance life. “Encore” I’m shouting and raising my beverage (yes coffee) to another awesome year!