One Month: March

After one month of freelance, what did I learn? A lot. And the fun part is that I'm going to keep on learning as I go. This is what happened:

Surprise! I am ALIVE! 
I didn't think it would be possible to survive off of myself. One month, and I'm okay!? What a high five to myself, and my supporters, for helping me make it through. It was pretty smooth sailing for the most part, but I am still learning how to promote my work, to maintain a steady income, and plan ahead. It's a definite learning curve, but I enjoy learning as I go. The panic has eased up significantly, though I think freelance is all about the pressures of keeping up with the unknown. 

Under pressure
I have always known, since my days of college, that I do my best work under a little bit of pressure. Most of my clients are pretty loose with their deadlines, and while I appreciate that, it's a tough one because I sometimes push harder when a deadline is in sight. I feel I kick things up when I'm in my moments of slight panic. I appreciate the easy going nature of my schedule, but sometimes I like a short notice challenge. I'm sure they'll surface along the way.

When it rains, it pours. 
An easy one to understand. I feel the workload comes to me in waves. Some days are quiet, some days my inbox is full. Overall, it's a steady flow, and I have a good lineup still ahead of me. I find that the pattern is more like: someone will come to me with an idea, throw around some thoughts, we'll discuss cost, time and materials; and then I hear back after about a week of thinking, to say, let's do this. It's great to see my clients get so excited about their ideas, and for me to help them see it through. It's like solving a puzzle for someone, as I get to know them and hack into their brain. I love my job.

Mornings, no
Still not a big surprise, I'm not into mornings; though I have really random days where I'm up at 7:30am, ready to start my day. For the most part, I'm up by 8-9am, moving slowly, sipping tea or coffee, sifting through emails and orders. I don't tend to get into painting or drawing until late afternoon, or much later in the evening when everyone is asleep. I like to think that I work the night shift. It works, for the time being. Pajamas sometimes stay on until 3pm.. or ... fuck it, all day. I'm sure this will change significantly when spring/summer sun becomes more prominent.

I make people happy
It is always heartwarming to hear from the people around me, how they feel about my work, what I've done to help them get back in touch with their creative side, how I've inspired them. I'm being myself, and for that, I feel the people around me help me to grow and be proud of who I am, and what I do. To see happy faces around me, it comes back as fuel to keep going. I know it's not always going to be 100% smiles from everyone, but I'm here to listen no matter the situation. That's part of my job.

Biggest lesson of the month: I can't make the world happy
I had some criticism this week, and it really shook me up, because it set someone off so much that they chose to block me. It sort of reminded me of Nacho Libre's disappointment, when he admired someone, only to find out they were "a real douche." The condensed story: I drew something for fun, someone assumed it was a rip off of their own design, they ranted, blocked, and left. Fair enough. 

A note for the sensitive creative types: In the world of creativity, artists borrow the things that they see. That's what being inspired is. Either you use a physical reference to draw from, or as I tend to do, store a mental snippet for later, in your mind. If you draw something line for line and claim it as your own, it's a different story. But, to vocalize your frustrations via social media how it's "cute" for someone to "get caught" for stealing your designs, without even knowing the real deal? Maybe take the time to consider that you -possibly- inspired someone. And if it looks a little familiar, be grateful for what people take from your influences. No one is original. If I were to credit all of the artists that influence what I do, every time I draw, it would be a very long list of names. I won't go further into this situation. It hurt and bothered me, but I came back to say guess what... this is what it actually is. I don't have time to copycat, I have a job to do, move along.

You have to shake off negativity
See above. Negativity is always going to present itself, even if things are going well in every other part of your life. When it swoops in, all you can do is learn from it and roll with the punches. One person isn't the world. Meditate, breathe, exercise, dance.. anything to pound out the negative energy and turn it into a positive. When you work for yourself, you can't let the negative Nancies take you down. You might piss off one person here and there, but think of all the others who support you. Focus on the right things. Pow! What negativity?

Resist the heavy stare
Yes, Breakfast is happy to have me working from home. I feel like he's just absolutely thrilled to have someone to stare at and play with, every single hour, of every single day. I'm happy that if I want a break, I can take the time to go outside, to play, snuggle, go for a walk, or have a one-sided conversation with someone who can't talk back. He makes me laugh when he smothers me with sad faces, when I'm stuck on a project that won't let me go. I've found moments of talking back to him, when I'm feeling a bit crazy. "I can't entertain you all the time!" Either way, despite the moments of needing space for concentration, I'm happy he's here when I need him, and to get me away from my work. I think we're going to really enjoy the summer together this way. Our days of getting out of the house are coming.


Kick it, old school!
Work harder to beat out last month's total. Not impossible! Let's do this, April!

Take time for yourself. 
I'm still a bit crappy at taking time off. I mean, being at home, you'd think I'd take advantage of every moment. Actually, I have more of a tough time disconnecting from my office life. If I'm not working, I tend to feel a little bit off about it. Taking time to yourself is so important. It helps for body, mind, and soul. So important. Stop, and stop.

Accept lulls
If I'm not feeling it, I'm not feeling it. I know that these lulls happen as a creative, and we have to take physical/mental breaks from what we're doing in order to get over it. I feel like my Mondays and Tuesdays are really quite slow for momentum, and that's just how I seem to roll. Taking those days as my weekend sort of work for me. Saturday and Sunday are actually my most productive days. Backward, but I can build my schedule. Magic.

Be fair to yourself as a professional
I have been called out for low balling myself, on projects that don't seem too big or difficult to get done quickly. I have to eat, and my rates have to start somewhere, no matter what. I appreciate the ones who have reminded me to never go below a certain amount, because this is my job. I have to survive. Value yourself, and you'll keep loving what you do. Big, big, big, important reminder.

Be proud
I have to take more time to tell myself how lucky I am for being where I am right now. I'm doing something I love, and I'm able to make a living off of it. This feels like a dream come true and I can't express it enough how grateful I am to be here, in this moment. I have much to be proud of, all thanks to the people around me. I'm proud to be an artist, and I'm proud to be able to do something with it and call it both my passion and my job. After years of struggling to keep up, it's nice to finally stop and see what I'm meant to be doing. Here we are. Way to go.



I was hoping to do this favorite character stuff as a daily thing, but I'm happy to say that I'm quite busy and have been thinking this one through. I have a LOT of favorite characters, and I kinda want to draw them as I go. I'm still figuring out how to take more time to do so. Being busy is a good thing, a very good thing, but we need time to breathe in between.

Hint for next time: I was asked who my favorite Disney princess is. We're going there. I have a lot of hair to draw.


For the Love of Character : Day 3

Without a doubt, when it comes to monsters, I'd have to say that my favorite one is the Wolf Man. It might just be that I have an appreciation for wolves, in general, because of their appearances in fairy tales, ghost stories, and some of my recurring dreams.

Fun Fact: My first 'monster under the bed' was the wolf from Peter & the Wolf. It terrified me for years, until I decided that wolves are fun to draw.... I still don't want one under my bed, though.

On the darker side of things, I've always had an appreciation for the Wolf Man, because he is dangerous and vulnerable to his own curse. In saying that, I'm starting to see that I have a thing for characters that are total opposites within themselves. Interesting. Way to go, Wolf Man.


For the Love of Character: Day 2

Mention the log driver, and I will most likely gasp in excitement, because he represents so many things that I love about Canadian culture, and of course (the National Film Board of Canada) animation.

The Log Driver's Waltz started off our Saturday mornings, back when cartoons were limited to just one glorious day. I remember looking forward to hearing the song and watching him dance, while eating my Cheerios, before the cartoon marathon kicked off. Ah, the nostalgia.

One of my favorite illustrations, by me

What I like about this character is that he's basically a graceful lumberjack. I always found that concept to be delightfully charming, and somewhat romantic in a way. Hmm, I never thought to consider that maybe I have a bit of a crush on this character. Well, I guess it's true what they say in the song...

The log driver's waltz pleases girls completely. 


For the Love of Character: Day 1

To keep the ball rolling on this exploration of my mind, which is geared mainly around character design, I thought I'd open up a 10 day challenge to write about my favorite characters, and what it is that I like about them so much. Is it the design, the personality, the story, something I can relate to, or something I didn't think to consider...? I'm looking forward to digging in and finding some answers because I have been trying to sort out what makes characters so consistently appealing; as it is a huge part of my job, and has been a lifelong love of mine.

In no particular order of preference, I'm about to dive into some of my favorites and dissect. And on the topic of dissection, what better place to start than here, with Dr. Hannibal "the Cannibal" Lecter.

According to the list of names that I've jotted down, I have a massive appreciation for the charming and sinister types of characters. If you can like a character that you know you're supposed to hate or stay away from, I feel that's effective character engineering. It's like touching something that could possibly jump up and bite you, or in this case, cook you for dinner.

What I love most about Hannibal Lecter, is that he doesn't need a weapon to break people down (and eat them) instead, he can mess with your mind. Our minds are so often our weakness, and I feel that his serpent-like ability to sneak in and ruin someone without them even noticing, is remarkably terrifying. The contrast of fear and curiosity makes his character so incredibly delightful.

Another big piece that I love about this character; is his voice. I've always been drawn toward voice, possibly because I listen to things as I work. Both Hannibal actors, Hopkins and Mikkelsen, are on my list of people who could read me the phonebook; which also adds to the effective, seductive, charm, of the character. I could go on for hours about his character, and how complex and interesting I think he is, but I will keep it short and simple by saying that he has stolen my heart.. with a knife and fork.



north vs south...vs west?

Best sunny field to play and rest in, waking distance from home. North 

Before I upset the north side of Edmonton, by saying how much I want out of it, I need to make something clear. While I know that there are pockets in every city where you should be careful not to wander into, especially in the evening, as a small woman who doesn't know how to run very fast; it is very difficult to enjoy your surroundings when you're on the edge of where things are not so sweet. There are definitely a lot of things that I love about my north hood, as I've found my comforts and hangouts and places that I will frequent; but, and that's a huge but... I have had some really bad luck. It has left me with some sour opinions, for sure. But that doesn't mean I hate on the north, or any quadrant of this city. Everyone has their preferences. Mine isn't here.

Our tree, to the right. Also, the best hippie van with pony decals. South

Of course, I will be favoring the spot that I am most familiar with, and where I had more positive experiences. When I first moved to Edmonton, I arrived to live in the south side of the city, so familiarity makes it extra special to me. I remained (though not in the same place) for three years. Through this time, I found my way around, figured out my favorite places, met some new people, made some friends, and even labelled it as a home away from home.. something I hadn't experienced in years. That's a big deal.

Old Strathcona Antique Mall, my favorite Sunday treat. South. 

To be honest, it wasn't always peachy in the south side. My first place flooded, my second place was a bit of a frat house, and by that point, I became quite bitter about how loud and obnoxious things had turned out to be. I wondered if maybe I was growing out of a younger part of town, that my experiences were pushing me toward something else, and that maybe it was time to give another side of town a try. I mean, there's no harm in getting to know your city, and I gave it a shot. Unfortunately, I didn't find the safest place to rest.

So much yummy sunlight, through the windows of a basement suite. Pretty lucky. North.

My current living space is lovely. I love the natural daylight I get, I love having a properly fenced yard, and for noise, the only thing I hear that is offensive is maybe the occasional police siren, and my neighbour's three dogs who bark constantly at everything that moves. I feel sorry for them, to be honest. Different story. Anyway, this is the first time where I'm actually happy with the space I'm in. My place is spacious, well maintained, dry and free of mold, and my neighbours hardly make a sound. This is a score. It's almost kind of funny that I love my house, not the neighbourhood. Where in the south, it was never the house and always the neighbourhood. If I could plunk my current house into my old neighbourhood, it would be a perfect mix. Sadly, I'm not made of magic. Dammit.

A happy snowman, North

Walking distance from a strip club may be a bit of an indicator as to what sort of crowd I'm currently living by. My car has been broken into a number of times, though nothing stolen and may be just a bunch of kids playing a joke by showing me how many compartments they can open for me overnight. I've been pushed over on the sidewalk by someone who may have just been in a rotten mood, enough to want to knock anyone down, and I've been called a "fucking loser" by someone driving by, as I was walking my dog. This was within my first month of living here, actually, and it was almost a bit of a culture shock from what I'd come to know in this city. It's comical, really. Like two totally different worlds.

Splash park cool down, on 73rd, South

I think I'm entitled to my opinion, based on my experiences, we all are; but to be fair from bashing the north completely, know that I consider it a good place. I realize I need to be careful about posting my #upyoursnorthside rants when I'm frustrated, and maybe I'll hold off on that. Based off what I've heard from people who live here, they love their side of town, their city, their home, and will defend it when needed. I like that. I'm just glad people here are passionate about where they live. It's almost like a funny rivalry between which place is better, safer, nicer, cleaner etc. I won't get into the West siders, here. *Wink. This is a good city, all around. I feel fortunate to be here, and to have found so much to be happy for. I just know that I would be much happier elsewhere.

Old Strathcona Farmers Market, South

In the North, I don't walk around at night (though I don't really do that anywhere), I don't wander around far from home, I don't see anyone around to say hello to, and if I do.. they don't seem interested in small talk. Fair enough. Not everyone wants to chat. I've gone to the pharmacy to wait in line, where someone called me a "dumb hipster" under their breath. I've gone to the grocery store, where I was labelled a "stuck up, rich bitch" while picking out yogurt, and recently I was asked for change while I was standing in my own backyard, and called a cunt for not offering up my phone to use. Yeah.. I've had enough over here. Totally fair.

Tea Girl, North. You pick your tea, you pick your cup. Best.

I'm not trashing on the North side, entirely, it is a good place. Where I reside, on the outside, not so much. There are many great things to see and do, yummy places to eat, adorable little cafes to cozy up in, dog parks to play in, and yes.. there are nice people here. There are nice people everywhere in this city. Even my closest neighbours are some of the nicest most helpful strangers I've met. If it was really all that bad, my car would have remained stuck in a snowbank for months. Really.. I just feel it's fair to say, I just haven't had the best of luck and I want out. I don't like it. I'm sure there are people in the south with similar stories, or in the west, or the east. It's all different, how we experience things. This is mine. So here I am, defending myself from how I've been unfortunately treated.

Under our tree, three years ago. South

Anyway, I long for my old stomping grounds because it is where I felt safest and soundest. I found a place where I was able to escape the comforts of my home and feel almost equally as comfortable outside. Now that I work from home, I long for the social interaction, like I had in the south. I miss my bookstores, my antique malls, my cafes, my regular faces... I want to go back to what I had, before I landed in the situation I'm in. This is a great city, and I plan to stay here for a while before I branch off into something else. I feel my time as a freelance artist, gathering my balance, has only just begun, and Edmonton is a really supportive stepping stone. I want to grow, spread out, enjoy my time. Sadly, it's not where I am. Sorry north side, I am not feeling it. I don't hate you, but I certainly don't love you.

I would appreciate the freelance, so I can go back.
Email requests to breakfastjones@gmail.com


week 1: what I learned

At first I was afraid, I was petrified. Is freelance really so bad? Not at all -so far- but it's still new and a bit scary. The fun thing is that I learned SO MUCH in my first week:

I was proven wrong, in one week, that I can actually get something out of freelance. This is a new sort of challenge to keep up with. Providing for myself definitely has its rewards. I feel pretty stoked, even a bit more confident, after only one week. I'm still terrified of the unknown, of course, but it's part of the fun of it... right? Who knows what this week will look like.. or what I'll learn this time around.

My creative peak comes to me at around 8pm, and it can stick around until the wee hours of the morning. 3am isn't a tough bedtime when you don't have to get up to be in an office in the morning. Sleeping in is about 9:30, and when I get up, I plan my day, make a healthy breakfast, and do some of my crafty things as a way to get my hands and mind working.. like stretching before the big run. It works for me, so far, and for Breakfast. He seems pretty happy to have me at home.

Because of how my days roll, I tend to go to the gym in the afternoon so I can jack myself up, shake off some pent up mind energy, and get my legs burning so that I don't feel guilty for sitting for extended periods of time. I do more yoga at home, meditate when I need to clear my mind, and I sometimes just get up and dance for the sake of having a good time. It feels good not to be sitting at a desk all day... though I'm still sitting a lot when I get working. I just don't feel guilty about it, nor do I feel I have to squeeze being active into my day anymore.

I think part of the challenge of working from home is that lacking human contact can make one go a little bit cray. Spending my days entirely with Breakfast can really chip away at my patience and my sanity, when I just want to converse with someone, or say more than just, "do you want to go outside?" in a day. I managed to join a crafty group of ladies, to talk about life as an artist and the challenges we experience. There's a funny misconception that artists compete with one another. I'd say we're out to support one another, because creatives are sensitive and we need emotional feedback. I'm glad I got to get out this weekend and enjoy that. The creative community in this city is what I love most. Open arms, everywhere.

Treating myself like a professional is an important task, because I know that if I don't fully believe it or take it seriously, no one will. Talking to my friends and family like I do with my clients makes me feel like a bit of a douche, but that's business and I need to be consistent. The more I make sure to carry my confidence with me, that this is what I do and this is what my time is worth so I can survive.. then no one loses out on the experience. I was great at selling myself short, for a very long time; which is where the experience goes sour. It's a challenge, but I'm taking myself more seriously as I go. Yo, pro!

I still have a sensation of feeling like this is totally wrong; to be drawing, and painting, and making stuff, for a living. I sometimes have moments of thinking that it's just too good to be true, and that maybe my world will come crashing down as some sort of valuable lesson that being in an office is where it's best to be safe and secure. Ha, dammit. Yes, I've had that mindset for years, but I feel that concept might dissipate as this continues. I feel super lucky to consider my home as my office, myself as a provider, my own boss, my motivator, my security, my kick in the ass. I'm on fire! I feel so crazy to get to say to people that I'm a freelance artist.. and that is all. I'm no longer a Graphic Designer and *mumble, mumble, illustrator, mumble, cough* I have no shame, I have nothing to fear. This is what I am, it's where I belong. It's what I do.



oozing hearts

It has only been three days, and I feel my self esteem just got a major makeover. How the hell did I get here? It's like I feel this incredible sense of power, for getting to show myself that I am actually capable of doing what I do best, and survive. I mean, it's only been three days, but man; the amount of feedback that keeps pouring in, along with the requests for work. Eeek! My goodness. Really, I can't believe it. I feel so lucky to be me right now; doing what I love, and what I know/do best. It's like I have a voice, and it's being heard, loud and clear.

I know not every day is going to be easy, as a freelance artist, but to be able to enjoy the moment and focus on how to keep up with it and plan ahead; it feels good. I have no idea how I'm going to feel about this weeks from now, as things are new and everyone is excited that I'm -finally- available to work freelance after a year+ of keeping very quiet about it. It may have been part of the plan, to build up a client/fan base, to show them (and myself) what I'm capable of doing, and to also have some fun with my brains again. I found my voice that way, I'd say. It's not an easy task when you're not the most confident person, but damn, I'm proving myself wrong almost constantly.

I feel that I have/had my anxieties toward freelance, because of my past experiences. When I first started out, I was very unprepared; as I had no idea how to network, communicate, or even get myself to do things for others without getting super worked up about it. I still have my moments, where I fixate on mind reading over trusting my instincts with what to do. I feel I've learned to take breaks and walk away, until I allow my natural voice to come out and shine. It feels good to be honest, and see the positive response when I express myself naturally. I feel very loved and appreciated for what I do. Seriously, I'm overwhelmed with gratitude... for being who I am. It's a strange realization of self acceptance. This is me, and I'm cool with it.

It's incredible, to sit down and tell myself that this is what I'm meant to do, after looking back at the years of struggle I had with keeping up with something I simply couldn't do. I mean, I wasn't incapable, since I managed to be a graphic designer for 8 long years; but damn, it makes sense why I was so moody about it. It's hard to fake it with a smile, when your heart and soul is elsewhere. I was exhausted by keeping up with my full time job, because I hated putting my energy where it didn't belong. Now that I have the chance to grab my pencils/paints and say that this is all I do, and live off of it.... man, oh man, I just won the lottery at life. I'm working almost constantly, and yet it doesn't feel like work at all. That seems to be just right, if you ask me.

This is where I belong. I was created to create, and I feel incredibly lucky to get to make something out of it thanks to the people around me who support and fully believe in me. To hear so much positive feedback from people who find me to be cool and inspiring (me? cool?), people who choose to share with me what they have created because of me, people who have actually picked up their pencils because I managed to spark an interest in their creativity again, because I'm good at what I do...!? This, my friends, is gold. I am sitting on a gold mine that I made for myself, and it's oozing with love for what can come out of sharing your gift, your passion, your natural ability. I feel I can sleep easy because I feel proud to be who I am. You give me so much hope and confidence. I feel amazing to be here, right now, in this moment.

Thank y'all so much. I mean that.


hello, march

So, I clearly didn't follow through with writing every day in February; though I think I did a good job, considering how little I'd touched my blog before then. It was a very emotional month for me, so I'm impressed that I was able to keep up with it as much as I did. Last week was a tough one, but I learned a lot about myself in the process; and how lucky I am, to have such supportive friends from all around. Everyone believes in me and what I'm doing. It's funny that I'm the only one who fears it and thinks it's a little unrealistic.. or weird. Who gets to draw for a living? .... um..... I do... as of today.

Today was actually kind of funny (though not at all), when my computer decided to completely crash and wipe out 2 months worth of work that I hadn't backed up. It was a complete disaster of a day; as I had to drive to the west end, lug the beast to the biggest mall in the universe, listen to some genius spout off big words that could have been shortened to, "your computer is broken, I will fix it", to come home and figure out how to get things started up all over again.... Ugh! If I hear one more person say to me that I need to back up my stuff...*eye roll*  Lesson learned. I'm just glad it was only 2 months, and not an entire year of stuff, lost.

Anyway, though I had my fist smashing moments, I chose not to get too hung up on the loss, because everything is starting fresh anyway. I figure that with anything that was lost (all digital illustrations/animations) I can only aim to retrace or recreate them, and maybe even make them better than what they were before. I think that's a pretty decent mindset to have, considering the situation. A definite test on my patience and temper. Sigh, computers. Sometimes, I think they're out to get me. What a way to start off my first day as a freelance artist. Hear that? That sounds kinda neat. On that note, it's almost midnight and I have some painting to do. This is my life. Damn, I'm lucky.