This blog is about Graphic Design, Vector Art, and Cartoon Illustration

May 9, 2014

Doing freelance work

Freelance is a term that is often used for Graphic Designers and Illustrators, and it just means that the artist doesn't work for one particular company, they work for anyone who will hire them. Hence, the old-fashioned term *free lance*, which goes back to medieval times, and just meant any soldier (with his own weapon, for example a lance) who would fight for anyone who hired him.

I started doing freelance Graphic Design and cartooning while I was still going to college. It seemed a perfect way to test my new skills, and besides, it paid much more than minimum wage, and was a whole lot more fun. Unfortunately, freelance working is not steady, so I was happy to get my first *real job* in Corporate America. And for many years I really didn't do much freelance, except for special clients. But now I'm getting back to it. And I do sympathize with other freelancers!

To be successful at freelance, you have to learn to hurry up and wait. Unless you're a *superstar*, you are going to have slow times. But when the call comes in, you'd better be ready! In between jobs I spend a lot of time of my computer, just making sure that everything is working properly. You know, Photoshop, Illustrator, if the scanner is working correctly, etc. There's a surprisingly large number of things that I need to keep ready at a moment's notice. And I love the moment! I love working freelance, on assignment! It's exciting, and it really gives me a thrill.

Yes, there are a lot of drawbacks to freelance work. It's not steady, and you have to do all of the *business stuff* yourself, like writing proposals, sending invoices, using Paypal, setting up Chase Quickpay, the list goes on and on. I pretty much stopped doing freelance while I had a *9 to 5* job as a Graphic Designer for many years, but when I started teaching, in my late 30s, the flexible schedule encouraged me to go back to freelance.

In order to do freelance, you will need skills beyond your artistic skills. You will need business skills, you will need sales skills. The good news for me is that I have always enjoyed interacting with people. I was never one of those artists who wanted to be locked up in a room somewhere. I have loved seeing people appreciate my artwork, especially my cartoons, since I was a kid, and I hope to go on doing them until I'm too old to lift the pencil to sketch, or use the mouse on my computer to do the final artwork!

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