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.

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