At the beginning of December I have decided to become a freelance illustrator. I became very pumped about the idea, so I came out with a project for myself. Discover more about my approach and my projects!
My journey as a freelance illustrator
About my artistic background
As you know, I am a self-taught wannabe artist. When I was little I was drawing and coloring prettier stuff than other kids. But I was never encouraged to pursue art as a career.
At the university, I have rediscovered my passion as I started drawing during a white night study session before an engineering exam. After uni, I moved to France and started my career as an engineer. With money in my pocket I could afford plastic arts classes to improve my skills.
The art classes aren’t really art classes, but rather a studio where fellow artists of different levels and age meet and draw. A professor walks among us and from time to time gives advice on how to continue what we’re working on or how to improve it.
People tell me I became a better artist
I am easily discouraged when I see other artists online, so I lose focus very easily. Though I might have become a better artist in friends’ eyes, I tend to be very critic towards my own work.
The art classes gave me the opportunity to test different media and discover what I like and what I don’t. I was also able to test several formats for presenting my work, such as paintings, postcard illustrations or comics. But I still don’t have a style of my own.
Or so I thought while testing all these possibilities.
I started creating artistic projects
But while testing is good, it is also good to develop your own voice, while backing it with studies.
Since I love traveling and arts, I concluded that the best solution for practicing while traveling was to carry a sketchbook. And so I drew the monuments I saw. And made artist friends on the road, while drawing.
Once in Nantes (France) a girl asked to join my drawing session, so we sat and drew together, then showed the sketchbooks to each other. While drawing in Athens, a group of Chinese travelers stopped around me and started taking pictures and videos of me drawing.
A project that derived from my habit of carrying the sketchbook and drawing during our trips, was the Travel Art Project. On a square format I drew illustrations inspired from our trips. It was fun and colourful. My professor of plastic arts advised me to do more of them. My problem with this project was that my characters were too simple, had no style. And so I kind of let it fade away.
Winter Holiday Project
But at the beginning of December I decided to be more consistent, so I created this project. During the whole month of December I draw and post an illustration on the winter holiday theme. People are awesome, as they fuel my passion for doing more.
What made me think of freelance illustrator
But what exactly becoming a freelance illustrator really means to me?
There have been several factors that made me take this conscious decision. Like some opportunities I wasn’t able to take, but also encouragements from my friends and family.
An agency contacted me a while back, proposing me to create the illustrations for their website. They wanted a background image and menu items as drawings (not design, but pure drawings). They had seen some of my posts of the Travel Art Project and decided to contact me. Let me tell you I’m still an engineer, and I do art as a hobby. Obviously I didn’t know what this project with the client would have implied. I asked lots of (stupid) questions, some of which administrative, like how can I invoice them. *sigh*. I made though a quick sketch for the client, and they were pleased. Nonetheless, they were already discussing with another artist, and finally went with the other artist.
I didn’t leave this lost opportunity bother me, but instead I started seriously thinking about exploiting my artistic skills. I definitely wasn’t ready!
After starting the Winter Holidays Project, even more people loved my creations and started asking me (or telling me I should!) if I was thinking about publishing a children’s book. My secret is: well, yes, I am thinking about publishing a children’s book.
The whole idea behind the Winter Holidays Project was to test myself:
- on keeping the pace (to check if I’m able to meet deadlines),
- and on being able to come up with many ideas on the chosen topic (which is winter holidays, in this case)
Of course, people only get to see the result: pretty postcards. But they don’t see the struggles of coming up with ideas, or our brainstorming sessions. Like any other ability, it looks easy and simple from outside, but the work behind represents the ugly truth.
The Winter Holidays Project was a way to assess all of this, in order to be ready to grab new opportunities, or pursue my own ideas into bigger projects.
Finally I decided to go as freelance illustrator
So what does freelance illustrator mean to me? Well, simply I chose to call myself like this and work hard on artistic projects, in order to be ready to grab creative opportunities.
At the end of the day I’m still engineer, and I do art as a hobby. But now I’m dedicating almost all my free time to creative projects. And I’m promoting them word of mouth or on Instagram, on a different account.
These projects will help me create a consistent portfolio. Eventually I will contact editors for pitching my children’s book projects. But until then, I have to continue growing towards this goal.