Time to blow my own trumpet. Today is my 4-year business anniversary. I've been a freelance illustrator for FOUR years! That's incredible and I can’t quite believe it. In these uncertain times I'm going to take a moment to reflect on the positive things that have happened since freelancing. When I quit my design job of seven years, I didn't have a business plan beyond "be a freelance illustrator" (in hindsight, I’d probably recommend a little strategic thinking first). I told myself that I'd start freelancing on the 1st of July. That day, the phone rang and it was an old colleague who'd moved away who needed some work doing as their designer was off sick and they had a deadline looming. (Thanks JB if you're reading this!). Since then, I've been fortunate to work for clients across the UK and Europe. Some of the things I’ve done are:
- I've illustrated two children's non-fiction books with @nosycrow and @nationaltrust with a third on the way. Read about them here.
- I've designed children's t-shirts for Joules Clothing.
- I've drawn cheese for HRH Prince Charles. (Drawn cheese for practically the biggest cheese in the land).
- I've illustrated loads of maps for the wonderful @discover_britain magazine.
- Been shortlisted for the @theaoi Prize for Illustration twice.
- Taught a workshop at the @ltmuseum
- Illustrated a poster for the iconic Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club.
And lots of other projects, big and small. I want to take a moment to say a big Thank You to every client who has offered me work over the past four years and for all the people who have supported my little business along the way. You know who you are. It's been great working with you all.
Freelancing hasn’t always been a bed of roses, and I don’t wish to portray it as such. There have been quiet times, uncertain times, times where schedules clash and projects move and suddenly you have to work ten-hour days seven days a week to shift the work but thankfully, they have always been balanced by good periods and successes large and small. I’m grateful for the freedom that this way of working brings, of having the freedom to work on a range of projects, to set my office hours, to make sure I have enough time for my hobbies and see my friends. I was worried that it would be a lonely existence sat away in my attic working but it’s far from that.
I know I've got loads more to learn and loads more I want to accomplish. Since my ‘leap of faith’ start as a freelancer I’ve become a lot better at business development and planning. I’ve found that I need a solid plan and schedule to achieve things. Taking regular days to sit back and plan for the future (whether that is career aspirations, finance, business systems etc) is so valuable.
So, I'm going to eat some cake, put on a party hat and dance around my office for a bit because while I look to the future quite often, I don't often take the time to reflect on the past, so now, after four years, is a good a time as any.