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On my journey as a freelance Illustrator and things that helped get started.



This blog might come out as an honest insight for anyone who's looking to work as a freelancer or any creative enthusiast wanting to make a potential career as an illustrator.

Truth bombs to be dropped first! I never thought I'd take illustrating as a full-time career. For as long as I can remember I had a fascination with art. As a kid, you would always find me scribbling, doodling or getting my hands dirty with paints or clay.

You know when you see a kid inclined towards drawing, you say "Oh he's surely gonna become an Artist". You motivate them, probably put them in a drawing class and even get their masterpieces framed.. but when they grow up, they're made to realize "It's just a hobby, You can't make any real money out of it!" and there pricks the balloon.

Traditionally, art has been seen as a medium where very few succeed. Majorly it may come from people who are not well versed with digital media or do not understand the potential of generating a streamlined income from it.

Quite obviously, even now when I tell people I am an Illustrator, I see the most fascinating poker faces and get asked things like -


"Oh so you make coloring books"?

"Can you make a flex design for me"

"I always wanted to have a cool visiting card"

"Draw me"

"Do you charge for basic doodle?"

If you can think of something right now, I've probably heard it!

Even when I was pursuing my under graduation in Architecture I was always told Graphics is just a part that you do to make your sheets look cooler. As a career? What's that?

So, somewhere I kind of hesitated in trying Illustration as a career option myself.


But today, let me climb on the highest peak and tell you that "Drawing for a living is a real career!" If you are passionate about it; It's gonna pay you good"


So, let's dive in

Shall we?


Tips that helped me get started and grow.


1. Practice until it makes you smile. And then Practice again.


When I say I always loved drawing does not mean I was super amazing at it. It was a medium close to my heart and something that gave me the space to vent out my imagination.





My inclination towards something that was always deep-rooted within me resurfaced in college when we made presentation drawings or had to explain a certain topic.

I found myself instantly grabbing a pen and sketching aimlessly.

Well, to be honest, most of those sketches did get a Redo remark and often ended up in bins but you know what, It never stopped me from exploring more till it made me smile.

So, if you are someone who's just getting onto illustrating remember, the more you practice, the finer you get.


2. Narrow your inspiration board


When you are starting out as an Illustrator, getting overflown by ideas and inspiration is pretty common.

Our world today is filled with so much information, accessible with just a click! It's amazing and fascinating but at the same time might limit you out from exploring your own self.

You have your own journey to explore and every creative has a different journey.

So, don't let too much inspiration drain your self-confidence and slap yourself every time you begin to lose it (it works!)

It's best to always try to limit your inspiration board and follow very specific people and work.

This tip has really helped me focus on my own work and develop the much-needed self-worth *wink*


3. Finding your style takes time.


This comes out as a frequently asked question.

How, How did you find your own style?

Was it that one fine day you woke up..and drew the most magnificent looking character?

Well, NOPE.


Finding your style is more of a journey.

It's like trying to observe what's around you,

getting inspired,

trying it (repeat this as much as you'd like to),

getting comfortable

and then. Maybe, may not be claiming it as your style!



And mind you, your style might keep evolving as you grow along the way as it's nothing but a reflection of you as an Artist. So, treat it easy and let it flow!


4. Don't try to put all eggs in your basket.

As a growing designer, I remember trying everything in the market! I was making comics, I was painting random patterns, I was even doing picture overlaps..but at a tortoise speed eventually, I found my niche.

I streamlined my ideas and learned to target a specific audience and clientele.

This really helped me source more projects and be more specific while marketing. This is so critical when you are in a career that's so vast and diverse!

Even today, a few assignments do not match up with what I do. And that's okay. I've learnt to let it go.

As long as you find your niche and feel anchored to it.


5. Marketing is crucial


One of the major lessons I learned as a Freelancer was how important self-marketing is.

To put it out brutal honestly, if you don't market yourself..no one else will.

Freelancing is basically about pitching yourself at the right places and making your work visible to the right audience.

So, if you are feeling trapped and are struggling to find clients.

Try doing a thorough market research and pitching at targeted places.

You are your bestseller, and you will do amazing things.

(yikess! this might be a potential quote for all creatives out there)




6. The more you listen, the more you'll speak.

As creatives, we speak on paper and listen with our eyes.

Okay, I get how that might be confusing but what I really mean is the more receptive you are at observing your surroundings, your audience, your market etc. The more it will translate into your actions and art hence will help you grow.


Personally speaking, Travelling taught me a lot. It helped me resonate with my style and understand how different people react to different cultures. It helped me to be more specific and find a niche for my work.

So, if you are a creative individual, make it a habit to listen more from your eyes and pour it into your work.


6. Enjoy the process.


Lastly, but most importantly.

Enjoy the process. Not all days will be super productive or fruitful. Art blocks, de-motivation and procrastination are all aspects of one's creative journey and something every artist goes through at some point.

Value the process and your pace. Freelancing is a journey with a mix of bumps and smooth roads and occasional outburst of caffeine, but it's beautiful.

And you are gonna make it *wink*



Thank you for reading my blog and hope you learnt something of value today.

I tried to keep it as informative as possible from my little journey as an Illustrator and

would love to hear your feedback, suggestions and good movie recommendations in the comment section.


Follow along for more blogs and if you like to buy me a coffee, do check out my shop :)

Love,

Ria.


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