I studied at Arizona State University and finished in spring 2016. After graduating, I worked for a summer as a marketing intern for an architecture firm in Phoenix and then moved to Le Mans, France that fall to teach English, which I did until May 2018. The English teaching gig, however, was very much part-time, (like, 10 hours a week) so I supplemented my income by doing online English tutoring, and then eventually with freelance work as it started to trickle in around fall 2017.
I majored in film studies as an undergrad, but realized maybe halfway into my senior year I didn’t have much interest in going into the field. At that point, I had already taught English as a second language for a few summer jobs and decided to get certified during my final semester at school so that I could find work doing that until I was able to figure out what I wanted to do in the long term. I can’t remember if I had illustration explicitly in mind at the time, but I do know it was around then I started becoming drawn to editorial illustrations I saw in the New York Times and The New Yorker. I began to emulate some of the styles I saw in these publications in my doodles, and sometime during that last semester decided that I wanted to be an illustrator. The plan was to teach in France for two years and then do illustration full time. Which, luckily enough, is how it has worked out so far.
I usually wake up at about 8. I make coffee and breakfast, and start planning my day according to whatever workload I may have. I try to spend at least a little time each day warming up in my sketchbook, but if I’m feeling a lot of pressure I’ll just jump in. I work from home maybe 95% of the time, but will occasionally go into a client’s office, or if a studio books me I’ll go work there. Ideally, I take a break around 3 to walk to the gym and get back to work towards 6 after dinner and a shower. I’m pretty bad at having a true, hard stop from work, and usually, just end up petering out and calling it a day at 9-ish. What actually happens during working hours depends on the project I’m working on, but I imagine it’s what most other illustrators do: sending sketches, waiting for feedback, and then working on a final draft.
I’m going to answer this in two parts: first, about the job itself, and the second about the whole freelance/working from home experience.
For the most part, I’m just happy to be here. I’ve been lucky enough to mostly get projects that basically scratch the creative itch and let me work in my own style without too many limitations. Illustration for me began as a hobby that I cared about deeply, and in a relatively short amount of time it became my job, and that emotional investment is still there. An exciting job offer or well-received work can be exhilarating, while rejection or a lack of work can be crushing. It’s also kind of all I do— when I finish client work, I’m usually pretty eager to get back to whatever personal project I’m working on at the moment.
The advantages you often hear about working from home— flexible hours, comfort, etc. are all very real. I can go to the gym in the middle of the day instead of when it’s at its most busy, plan appointments whenever, and take a break and go on a walk as needed. That stuff is all great. However, it’s pretty easy to go a week without seeing or talking face-to-face with anyone, which might be more of a function of being new in a city (I’ve only been living in LA for a few months) than working from home, but it certainly doesn’t help. I also am not great at establishing a work/life divide— my workspace is in my bedroom, and my work days aren’t too distinguished from my days off. It all seems to run together. I log a lot of hours at my desk, and it’s rare that on any given day I don’t at least spend a little time doing something related to work. Also, chasing down payments from clients is not fun at all.
I think it will work out but it also might not!!!