I am not really a designer and work nearly exclusively with my own ideas, write my own stories so am not really an illustrator either. I make graphic novels and series of paintings.
What lead me into what I do now? Well, both my parents are artists and I grew up in a very nurturing and supportive environment. I used to art direct my father (a children's book author) to make costumes for me when I was around 4—bird costumes, dinosaur costumes—you name it. I suppose that would be my earliest creative memory!
I studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, after school I worked a lot of dead end jobs—cafe work, retail, you name it. I didn't really get much commercial work.
I typically work on really big projects (books/ graphic novels). My most recent book "Motel Universe" took me around 7 months, its 100 page story all done in full colour.
I work as much as possible, within reason, I really enjoy what I do so it isn't really work. Maybe 6 hours a day, sometimes less.
I don't work for anyone, I share a studio space with an old college friend who runs a print space called KLD repro as well as 5 others. We all do different things. It's a nice environment, we hang out, chat, drink coffee.
Not sure, as everyones different, it took me a long time to get used to the sacrifices necessary if you want to be committed to working in this field.
Money strain, a lack of social worth as reflected by lack of monetary compensation.
Isolation— less time spent with others, more time spent thinking (over-thinking).
-exposure- Working for free—being constantly asked to do things for free.
My rule of thumb is I hardly ever do things if I'm not getting paid—occasionally I will submit drawings to a magazine because I like the magazine or its good to get the work out there, sometimes I say yes to friends.
So sometimes you have to be firm, save your time and energy for most importantly those personal projects which are worth something to you. Secondarily invest a little energy in paid work.
My new book is being released, so thats on the cards. I've already started working on a new graphic novel. So I'm occupied :)