1-year Freelance-iversary!!

Hey guys! I’d like to thank you for making it to my blog, to my webpage, to my little slice of the internet - let me know if there’s anything I can do to make your stay a little more comfortable. People know me as Tuna, I’m 23 years old, and I do art for a living.

 
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As of this September, I have now been a full time freelance illustrator for over a year. Wow! I’ve covered a lot of ground in that time - written and illustrated a few comics, worked on a VR videogame, sold prints at conventions and fairs across the city, took a short-term in-house contract at an advertising agency… not to mention dozens of bizarre one-off projects and personal commissions.

I have always advertised myself as a focused character artist and cartoonist, so none of these artistic adventures were ones I expected to take. But throughout my 6 years of freelancing, I have always maintained a clear philosophy: to seize every oppourtunity to work in an artistic field.

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I developed this rule around the time I was graduating high school. After years of doodles and denial, I was facing the fact that no other career path would suit me. I was going to have to buckle down, find a way to make my art work. There was no goal, however, to land any certain position or job. I was not looking to become an animator at Disney. I didn’t want my paintings to hang in galleries and classy office buildings. My goal was simply to make a living doing art full time: whatever that might end up looking like.

While working days in the service industry, I pushed a LOT of digital pavement to side-hustle creative work. I went on Craigslist daily, week after week, sending applications to every listing in creative gigs and art/media/design jobs that I felt at least sort-of qualified for. While most of those emails were nothing but a waste of bytes, some lucky ones would trickle through and provide a reply, or better yet, a work offer. And, as long as the pay was worth my time, I said yes to all of them. I learned quickly that paying work was hard to come by, and when a fish snagged my line, I couldn’t afford to let it get away.

 

 

After 5 years of part time and over a year full time, I’ve made it here. I’m making a living - albeit, not a great one - by forking out my artistic skills to pay the rent. Connections I have made are starting to pay off, and work is finding it’s way to my inbox (every time I can’t help but wonder who sent them. I’m just so curious!). I don’t have to send out as many application emails as I used to, though I do still find myself trolling my old stomping grounds for a fun gig here or there.

But now, even in this first degree of comfort, I’m finding that old habits die hard. Whenever a potential client appears, I still feel that desperate urge to reel them in as quickly as possible lest I go hungry that night. While the risk is (mostly) gone, the instinct remains: never say no to a job offer. As a result, my plate is always very, very full.

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As my plate fills, I run out of time forother things in my life. Since I can’t stop sleeping and already socialize infrequently, the biggest hit is always the time I spend pursuing personal creative endeavours. I use up all my creative energy working for others, and this has led to a malaise of my soul. While I am proud I have attained my goal to make a living doing art full time, I have come out the other side wanting more. Making a living doing someone else’s art doesn’t suit me as well as I thought it might.

So with the start of this blog, I am pushing for more. Prioritizing personal work and learning to say “NO” when I just don’t have the room for more on my plate. Beginning to actualize a world where my personal work can be a part of my income. Finding balance to build a lasting business model and continue to grow as an artist. I’ve learned so much over the baby years of my artistic career, and I am ready to apply my knowledge to make the second year of my full time freelance career look a little more refined, and a little more “me”.

I hope some of you will enjoy it with me.

Until next time,

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