It's been a little under 3 months since I made the leap to full-time freelance work. I don't regret a single thing, and even on stressful you days, I'm comforted by the feeling that I wouldn't trade it for anything else.
What I would like to do is record my experiences along the way, both as a marker for myself, and a potential guide for anyone who wants to do the same thing (you know, drastically change their life, quit their job, etc... eek!).
One of the most important tools I've come to discover as a freelancer:
N E T W O R K
I don't mean to say that work is based on who you know, but rather on who knows you. I was able to build an amazing network of amazing people through my previous job, and thanks to that, all of my work was been work-of-mouth referrals. People are kind, and want to help make connections- and if they know and trust you, they will recommend your services.
A few other things that I have taken care of within the first few months:
I have a lot of growing to do, but I am confident in my decision to pursue my passion. I will continue to record my journey, so that hopefully someone may benefit from this!
You may not know this about me, but I love exercise. I'm not obsessive over it, but it's definitely a big part of my life. With that in mind, I created an infographic that is designed to encourage people who are considering incorporating weight training into their lifestyle, but are nervous about it! I wanted to steer clear of those typical, beefy infographics, that show huge and muscular people... that's not always someone's goal!
graphic design, art, infographic, weight training, exercise, hobbies, retro
As I grow and develop different interests and tastes, I find I have to continually remind myself that there are no real set "rules" to anything in life.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not about to get all "philosophical" on you. I just mean that, in my own head, I've always created expectations and rules for the things I do. What are the exact steps to writing my own thoughts down? There must be a guideline to painting, and if I don't follow it, I will look like a fool! My goodness, how terrible!
I can tell you now, this is an awful attitude, and I've been struggling against it since I was a kid. I was on a softball team as a child (it was one of the many, very short-lived activities that I tried), and I retain one vivid memory from that time. Us little tykes were all lined up, in our typical order of alphabetical by last name, waiting for a turn to bat. Little did I know, my sweet mom had suggested to the coach that it might be nice to reverse the order (my last name, Schneider, ensured that I went close-to-last in a lot of activities... or in this case, dead last). So the coach announced that "Anna Schneider is up first!".
I stared at him. This did not make any sense. I was always last... so I told him that.
"No, no, Anna, you're first today", he answered. I stared at him again, feeling my face grow hot with embarrassment, the prickle of tears, my throat going tight.
"No," I remember whispering, "I go last".
This continued on for a little bit. I believe the poor, bewildered coach managed to eventually coerce me into hitting the ball first... but my night had been ruined. I was devastated.
I'm okay, I'm okay... I can laugh about it now.
So why the heck am I writing about a silly memory? Well, it's the one memory I draw on the most whenever I start to get caught up on my own self-imposed rules. Thinking about it allows me to take a step back, question my current thoughts and attitudes about something (such as an assignment, or something for a client), and realize that there is no set rule for this particular piece... because I haven't created it yet. Yes, there are suggestions, principles, and guidelines, but no, there aren't any damn rules.
So, as a parting thought, let me ask you... have you ever created false rules and expectations in your head, only to realize that they don't actually exist?
(PS- if you tell a kid that they aren't allowed to chew bubblegum, then give it to them in a stocking for Christmas... well, you're either raising a rebel, or as was my case, you're just wasting perfectly good gum.)
I'll come right out and say it: "incorrect" punctuation and spelling is artistic in the world of design.
I have a Bachelors in Linguistics, and one of the most important things I learned was that there is no actual authority on language. It is liquid, it changes, and as long as you can successfully communicate your meaning, you shouldn't be ashamed of your grammatical knowledge. In fact, like most people, I skew words, make up terms, and spew out nonsense on a regular basis... and people rarely call me out on this doofy behaviour.
Despite this, I tend to try and maintain correct (mainstream?) spelling and punctuation... except when I'm designing. For some reason, as soon as I add any typographic element in a piece, I opt for no capitals, or ALL CAPS, or even run-on sentences. Sometimes I have a reason- I need the to draw the eye to the words, and these changes will create emphasis. Most of the time, I feel like I'm breaking the rules just to appear more artistic.
Is that so wrong? I really don't think so! I think it can look elegant when letters are small and equal in size. It's a personal thing, it adds flavour, like texting words such as "wanna", "gotta", and "whatchoo". There's no REAL point, and yet it's a habit that I (and many others) do.
In the end, I think it's perfectly harmless. The important thing is to remember that you have a purpose for deviating from the norm when designing for someone else! What does everyone else think?
How often do you start an art project with no real end goal in mind?
Recently, I've been a little too occupied with the "why" of my art. Before I delve into a new project, I ask "will this make me money?", or "can this be a good portfolio piece?", or maybe even "could I give this as a gift?". More often than not, if I don't have a clear reason for creating something, I won't even bother to start.
That's not a healthy attitude.
If you stop creating those random pieces, you stop doing art for yourself. A major benefit of art is that it is therapeutic, but you lose that benefit as soon as you introduce the possibility of failure. If you have created a goal in mind, then you have also created the possibility of failure.
There is no shame in making something that you can't use for money or approval... because, in the end, you've made it for yourself. So that's what I've been working on lately- creating for no reason. And you know, I've been feeling more creative (and lucrative). Go figure!
My suggestion for you- go do an art project that you will never show another person.