Sometimes you are so used to living a certain way of life that you never think to question it. People are, after all, very good at status quo – at following rules or crowds, or, if you're a designer, brand guidelines and paragraph spacing. And don't get me wrong, rules are great, we need them to build businesses and produce consistent work, but sometimes we are so used to being told what to do that we forget to challenge what we're doing or try things a different way.
Over the past few years I have been juggling both a graphic design job and my illustration work (as well as raising two small children!). Life has been somewhat busy, highly rewarding and at times bloody exhausting. There have been a lot of late nights and early mornings, and many hours of building up my portfolio and seeking new contacts. At 2am one random Wednesday morning, I realised that I must be either extremely passionate or else insane (maybe both?) to be working into the early hours, knowing I would be awoken at 5:30am by my alarm clock (two of them, in fact). I decided that something had to give.
So I gave up my children. Just kidding, I gave up my day job. My day job consisted of working at a highly successful graphic design agency where I had been for nine years. Working there has been amazing experience; developing my skills as a graphic artist and working for brilliant clients worldwide (not to mention working with my brilliant team mates). Deciding to leave has been a tough choice, but towards the end of my time there I realised I was so used to following brand guidelines that I had stopped truly creating. Not only that, but it consumed a large proportion of my life, leaving me with little space to push my own work forward.
So I decided to follow my passions; pursuing the things that enabled me to be truly creative. But contrary to popular belief, passion is not enough to build a career upon. And neither is talent. I have discovered that the best drive towards greater success has been organisation and determination, and a very, very hard skin. I have learnt to change my perspective on criticism; that a no is not necessarily a never; that an ignored email does not mean that I should give up. And most importantly I have learnt that I will always be learning; that I will never have made it; that round every corner is another opportunity to progress that little bit further.
And that's what's exciting; that there's no going back. There's no option to sit comfortably or avoid failure. And sure, I may fail, but failures are the opportunities to grow; to change something; to get a nudge in the right direction. I'm on this journey to learn and develop, not to think I've made it just because I get to create really cool stuff for a living. I'm not lucky or talented as some have said, I just have a lot of late nights, send a lot of emails and drink an awful lot of coffee (tea, actually, but that doesn't sound as good in a blog post). Freelancing is about having the confidence to sell your services well, and the humility to take on board feedback and make changes. By freelancing I am not trying to do things my own way, as though I don't need a boss, I am trying to give my all to that which I'm passionate about with the help of a lot of people, and in turn I hope to help a lot of people along the way. This month I will have earned more than I've ever earned in a month; next month I could earn £2.50, but unless I make the leap to invest more time into pursuing my freelance career I will never be able to give it my best shot.
So, thanks to the amazing clients I've worked with so far, to those who have given me helpful feedback and to those who have supported me (especially by making me cups of tea). I hope this is the start of lots of new things and lots of exciting collaborations. Please do check out my portfolio and let me know if you have any constructive feedback about my work – or, even better, if you'd like to commission me.
Thanks for reading,