How to be come a freelance illustrator

14th Dec 2018

Ok, this simple step by step guide is 100% successful….so far. At the time of writing, I’m the only person who has followed it and I’m a freelance illustrator. So that’s a win in my book.

  1. Like drawing….what I mean is really, really like drawing.
  2. Draw loads. And then draw some more.
  3. Constantly improve your drawing skills.
  4. Get a series of crap jobs, the more you’re dissatisfied with them the better. Why get paid for doing something you haven’t got a passion for? You’ll rarely put your all into it and even if you do you’ll get that nagging feeling now and then that something is missing from your life. It’s not that flash car or beautiful partner that’s missing, it’s a sense of purpose – doing what you were made to do. So use that feeling of unfulfilled dreams to push you to make that career change.
    If you haven’t got the kahunas to sack your well paid full time job off completely, then see if you can go part time or wait until you’re sacked or made redundant (if you get a nice golden handshake then bonus).
    Please be aware this step can take a few years.
  5. If you’re in an unhappy relationship, you need to pack your bags ‘cos you need to get focused on doodling. Saying that tho’ you should leave anyway whether you’re planning to doodle or not.
    Again this could take a few years.
  6. Move back to your mum’s to keep the bills low.
  7. Don’t talk about stuff just do stuff.
  8. Expect some real lousy pay cheques. Also expect no pay cheques.
  9. Get a simple online portfolio sorted, some business cards.
  10. Get hold of contact details for clients who you think would take your style of doodles and tell them you’re available for work – email ’em, write to ’em, phone ’em, just send them some samples. Don’t camp outside their house and stalk ’em, that’s weird.
  11. Be prepared to hear nothing or alternatively hear that your work is crap. Take it on the chin, they may be a knob or they may have a valid point, that’s up to you to decide. If you’re getting no joy and your artwork is good have a think if you’re targeting the right clients. You may need to change the people you’re targeting or alternatively show them different styles of artwork.
  12. Keep on doing points 9-11 until you do get some work. This could take a while but it’s best to try and go quick with this one if you can.
  13. Constantly improve your drawing skills.

Now I don’t always follow these rules, life gets in the way and I’m a great believer in faffing so I’m just saying you’ll get there quicker if you follow them better than I do. Feel free to make up your own rules too.