It’s been quite a while since my last blog post as I’ve had a busy few months. They’ve been busy for several reasons, but the best reason is that we were planning a wedding! Last weekend Chris and I got married amongst family, friends and flowers. It was a wonderful day. I’m looking forward to things quietening down a little bit, and being able to have a bit more time and space to work on creative things. Good times ahead!
So it’s been about a week since KidLitVic 2019, I’ve had a busy week so this is my first chance to sit down and think about how it all went. It’s such a great conference, and a great opportunity to meet publishers, writers, and other illustrators involved in creating children’s literature.
This year I had my folio on display at the Illustrators Showcase. This is my second time at the conference, and I felt much more confident than last year. When I was putting my folio together, I had a look at last years folio, and realised how much I’ve improved. I know I’ve got a long way to go, but it was certainly encouraging to see for myself that there’s been a big change. I think it’s hard to see that when you’re in the middle of it, so getting to step back and see where I was last year, and where I am now was a good process.
I also decided to do one masterclass and one assessment this year. First was the master class which was held by Donna Rawlins. It was about ways to get your portfolio to stand out, and to improve your work. There was so much really good information, and Donna is an entertaining speaker, so it was a great start to the day. My favourite part of her talk was her advice to look at other illustrators critically, and really think about why you like their work, what works and what doesn’t. Then taking those elements into your own practice. It made think about how I often get caught up in my own head a lot of the time, and that it’s good to look at what other people are doing, and why certain illustration/art styles speak to you.
Next was my assessment with Clair Hume from Affirm Press. It’s really hard to put your work out there for assessment. While I’d love to just get positive feedback I can recognise that that wouldn’t be helpful to me at this point. I need that push to make myself try new things, and get better, rather than becoming complacent. Clair had a lot of great suggestions and constructive feedback for me. We were able to talk about ways I can create more depth and movement into my images, and really elevate my work. It was helpful feedback and it’s given me a lot of things to think about and work on into the future.
Honestly I’ve been feeling a bit down about myself the last few months. I’ve been struggling to keep working as a freelancer and all the challenges that come with that. Being at the conference this year made me think about whether I want to keep pursuing illustrating children’s books. It feels hard to get a foothold in the industry, and there are a lot of other ways I can put my artwork out into the world now. But I love books so much, and reading stories. I love that I have one book out in the world, and I want to do more.
Coming to the conference has given me some more direction for ways to improve, with some clear steps forward. And I’m excited to start working on that.
So I don’t really have much of a point to this post, just some musings about where I am at the moment in work and life. I’ve been a bit quiet on social media lately since the last couple of months have been incredibly busy, but busy with things that I enjoy doing! Including travel, dance events, more artistic work, and a new job.
I really enjoy freelancing. It’s great to be able to set my own hours, and have a flexible schedule. I like having the freedom to explore different ideas that I’m interested in, and being able to work in a way that suits me.
Unfortunately there are some downsides. Work isn’t always consistent, there are plenty of times when there’s nothing coming in, and other times where I’m doing a lot of work - which always seems to coincide with busy periods in my personal life. I’m currently not making enough as a freelance artist to only do that, so I have a few other jobs that I do to make ends meet. They all have different demands, and arranging schedules can be stressful. I never really feel like I stop working. Even when I’m at home on the weekend or at night, I’m always thinking of ways to improve my business, or feeling guilty that I’m not spending enough time on it. Most of the time it feels like I’m spinning a lot of different plates, and it’s difficult to keep them all up in the air.
The last couple months in particular, I’ve found this has had a bad effect on my mental health. I’ve always struggled with anxiety to various degrees, so trying to figure out the best way to deal with it when it relates to my career has been hard. I’m still working on it. I’ve been working through a lot of self doubt and fear about the future. I want so badly to make this a viable career, and there are some days where it just doesn’t seem possible.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I’m really grateful for my relationships with other people. When I was travelling, and then coming home to another big dance event, I met up with a lot of friends I don’t get the chance to see all that often. And it reminded me of how much I love and rely on my friendships, and other relationships. The joy of seeing each other, and spending time together, especially when we know it won’t last for long. The people in my life have all been so supportive of me as I’ve changed careers and I’m grateful for it.
I’ve had so many friends who’ve requested commissions, given me advice on markets/selling/freelancing, buying prints, liking my social media posts and putting me in touch with possible short term jobs for money. My family have always been so supportive. Always ready to give advice, also requesting commissions and prints, and helping me out financially.
Finally, Chris has been my biggest support. He’s always been good at calming me down when I’m stressing about work, helping me out at markets, and believing in me even when I don’t. I’m so thankful for his support and love.
I feel very lucky. Even on my busy days and down days. I’m very lucky to be able to try to do this, and it’s a wonderful thing. Thank you all so much, because I couldn’t do it without you x