My babein' buddy Boo asked me a load of questions for one of her essays at uni - an 'industry report' focusing on freelance artists. I don't think I've ever really considered myself as freelance, but these days most of my work is through commissions and custom requests and I don't do anything else as a job, so, I guess I am? Here's a little insight into my process and the pros and cons of freelance.
- What is your daily routine as a freelancer?
My routine varies day to day depending on my work load and commissions. I’ll often start with gathering materials which usually means going to buy more thread and fabric. This also gets me out the house for a couple of hours as the rest of the day will be filled with emails, scheduling new commissions, working on current commissions or projects (which can be an intense few hours of embroidery before coming up for air), updating social media and planning my next day. As the actual work itself can be quite intensive, I now ‘schedule’ in breaks like an hour drawing or a couple of hours with friends so I don't burn out. I would sit and embroider forever if I didn't do this.
2. How important is social media to you for publishing your work?
Extremely important. If it wasn’t for Instagram and tumblr, I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in now to call myself a freelance artist. With social media being so imbedded in everyone’s everyday lives, it’s totally altered how marketing and publishing can be approached. Personally, being an embroidery artist, I can quickly add detailed snapshots of work in progress (not just a product listing photo) to gain curiosity, or share photos of work in-situ to inspire potential customers. Being able to add a personal touch on social media also encourages a kind of customer interaction that can have such a positive effect on sales. There are also extreme downfalls to social media, however, which I have faced. The internet can quickly turn an image of your work into an anonymous picture of art by an unknown source.
3. What are the pros and cons of freelance?
Cons are usually in the beginning of becoming freelance - having the back up funds in order to become freelance, whether the field you’re working in can be sustainable as freelance, finding the right customers and then attracting enough customers, understanding how much to charge for your work, understanding marketing, understanding commissions and custom orders etc. Freelance basically means that you believe in yourself and your work enough that you believe other people will feel the same joy and so buy it - this can often lead to days of self-doubt and taking shitty days to heart if you’re not an overnight success. However, this also means that when it goes good, you feel on top of the world and beam with pride at someone spending even a pound on your work. Finding the balance between work life and personal life can be very hard, and something I’m currently working on. I’m still effectively in the early days of my business and so feel an overwhelming urge to please everyone. However, being the only person means this is just impossible at times. Organisation is key here, if not, the cons may just outweigh the pros.
4. Where do you get your inspiration from?
Everywhere and anywhere. An over heard saying could result in a large embroidered quote, or a new dress could inspire a new colour combination. I’ve embroidered for a long time so naturally look at images and art work in relation to stitching - my current love for illustration is a result of this. Exhibitions, movies, music, the internet, your best friend - there’s always something that sparks a little excitement for some potential new work.
5. What advice would you give to someone wanting to start out as a freelancer?
Start small. Don’t suddenly have a Dragons Den worthy business plan for something you haven’t practiced. Start developing your style with research and experimenting. ALWAYS RESEARCH. What’s the point in having that Dragons Den worthy business plan if someone’s been doing it since the dinosaurs and you missed the memo? Find your niche and work on it, start introducing it to social media for feedback and see where it leads you. If that means printing out your work to sell, excellent. If that means exhibitions, brilliant. If that means making things for your family and friends, go for it! See where that takes you and let it happen naturally, before you know it you’ll be stressing there’s not enough hours in the day and you’re tumblr famous. It happens, believe me.