I'm essentially a freelance teacher and my work has varied from the bare minimum to full working week. Though it's an amazing lifestyle, it can be very stressing when you don't know where you'll be from place to place. I never did my homework, but I was lucky so network as much as you can. Find somewhere like a publishing house, or an illustration company and volunteer there an hour a week or something. You might get your big break through meeting someone there that can point you in the right direction.
That sounds a lot like the company I used to work for in the year before they went out of business. The place started out as a fun and promising company, but towards the end it was a depressing downward spiral as things fell apart... I remember wondering if I should go freelance and trying to amp up my portfolio at the time. Then the whole question was resolved by the company going out of business and laying everyone off anyway, ha.
Then of course I spent a couple of years struggling to get a freelance career off the ground. It probably would have taken longer than that if I didn't have connections through ex-employees of my old workplace, that helped a lot. I'd also managed to save up a decent chunk of money from my old full-time job, and that helped me pay rent and expenses for the first few years.
If you can, it's probably better to try ramping up a freelance career while you still have a job. Work on your portfolio, start networking, see if you can pick up any freelance work on the side, etc. Especially if you have a lot of expenses. Either that or spend a couple of years saving up as much as possible so you'll have a cushion.
My last job was similar - a comicbook publishing house that was struggling. I was a fulltime colorist. At first I could color 2 pages a day, and do the job quite well, but they wanted 3 pages. I didn't want to sacrifice quality, so I struggled a bit, found technique shortcuts and got to doing 3 pages a day on average, although sometimes I had to stay overtime. They asked for 4 pages if possible. This is when I realized, as long as I keep covering their requests, I will never be happy, because they will always raise the bar above me. So fuck that, I started just doing whatever amount of pages I felt like. Often it was like 16-17 pages a week (5 days work week). Soon after the company downsized and they offed me, along with all other full time illustrators. I have no idea what's happening now there.
Some people have given you good advice - look for a new job, while you still have this one. Usually you can find your new place before you even notify your current boss that you quit, then just notify him, wait out the time and start your new job.
About the drawing and painting. I looked through your gallery. It looks like your technique could use improving to make you more efficient at your work. Out of curiosity - how long did this take you to make [link] ? If you want a skill ceiling that you can aim for for now, you can take mine - www.nebezial.deviantart.com . This guy has the most efficient technique I've ever seen any digital painter use. You can probably pick some interesting stuff up from him. I'm not talking about style, or even technique, but more about the way he treats PS. He's spend years optimizing his technique for this software... Check him out. ^^ And look for a job. No point in staying at a work that makes you unhappy.
I watch the same guy! And his maybe his or maybe not other account (wink wink nudge nudge, say no more)
he has actual inspired me to improve in recent months. I made a thank you you to Jim about it.
That piece there took between 3 to 4 hours on and off. It was a warm up piece for concept reasons. Most pieces take 8 to 12 hours depending on background.
Honestly thou my work here on da is better than my works work. I hit their ceilings years ago, which can be bad and good. Their tried to get me to take on more work too but I openly told them that was a complete new job role and I would want more money, so they hired someone instead.
I will just echo what others have already said. It's easier emotionally and mentally to look for another job when you currently have one. I have been unemployed since April and have had no luck since then. It gets increasingly discouraging the more time that goes by. At least I have had my new son to focus on and to keep me busy.
In terms of the dead end job feeling, that can be rather depressing. When I do get work the only jobs I get are short term contracts, so no room for advancement. Just going from contract to contract. The older I get the more I feel like any prospect for an actual "career" has reached a dead end.
i have a friend who's been unemployed for over a 1 year (nearly 2) and its soul destroying. i can see. I cant up and quit this job at the mo, i have a house to pay for and wedding to fund, its just not feebly but of course i am looking. i have been looking for 6 months already :S
I'm in a similar position like you. You can't do much: work for the paycheck, draw in your free time for your enjoyment and try to look for other jobs in your field, but stick with this job for now for we are all in recession and things are still not looking good (especially for artist)
They always tell you there is no money for a raise, but I bet the bosses get theirs and probably bonuses too, and of course on your back. You just have to make a decision of where you want to be in 5 years, working in a dead end job at the same pay, or somewhere else where your talents can be utilized and appreciated. Then work at making that dream come true.
I had a promising future in records before the economy tanked. Now it's not only hard to find a records position, but almost all of them require french (which I have never been able to learn), so for a year I was on unemployment while searching for another position, and now the past year I've been forced to work part time at a grocery store.
Is additional schooling, even on a part-time basis, at all feasible? Recently I have begun considering going back to school, even as a part-time student. I'm currently a Library/Info Tech grad, so I'm thinking of doing Business Administration to broaden my qualifactions without straying too far from the field I want to be in.
This is interesting to know.I live in Ottawa, Canada and have been trying to find work since last April with a history graduate degree and some work experience in museums/ records behind me. However, the cuts to the public service haven't made it easy. I was debating going back to school either for a Lib Tech or Info Management degree, mainly because it seems that the staffing agency I use has a number of Lib Tech positions. Of course these jobs are not career jobs but in some cases really short term casual positions that pay a dollar or two over minimum wage.
Are you looking at the course at Algonquin for Library Tech? It's really an amazing program. Helena Merriam is still the co-ordinator, and she was great to work with if something ever came up that you needed help with.
If I were going to go that route it would probably be the Algonquin program. Thanks for the name. If I have any questions to ask its always good to know someone specific to talk to.
For now I am still debating. It would mean new student debt plus having to get another degree/ diploma. When does it end! I might see if its possible to take one or two courses towards the degree this winter to see what it's like.
Freelance=zero income, and actually would cost you more money than any money you would actually make. You would have to publish your own books and generate your own sales through websites and conventions. You would basically be the founder and boss of your own made up label and hire artist like me who you would pay to make art for you and your label in general. Best case scenario is you sale your made up label or merge with another made up label or studio that is actually making more money than it is spending.
I am already half way there with my own made up label called 4E comics, and 4E studios, which will one day merge with a studio or label that is making plenty of money for me to actually profit on/share in. OR, I get it famous enough to sell to marvel or Disney, which is really just a fantasy more than a business plan... But what ever.
Since you have a job now, I'd suggest keeping it until you can find a new one or get good freelance work consistently. There's no point quitting if you wind up getting one job that pays the mortgage for a month or two then leaves you broke again.
It's better for art jobs now than it was four years ago, but it's still pretty hard. Things are just starting to pick up here (we do blown glass), which is a good sign, but you've still got to be aware that people and companies are on pretty tight budgets right now, so finding work is going to take a lot of effort.
If you want to work for wizards of the coast or something, make a 15 piece portfolio and email it to them. I know somebody who works for them, he got hired at a con after one of their guys looked through his work. If you want I can ask him what they look for in artists and portfolios.
He takes other freelance jobs, too, does some stuff for the star wars books and whatnot.
He's always busy, but he also goes to lots of cons and stuff and sells on ebay. And at the moment he's had to get a job at Kinkos to make ends meet.
If you want to freelance, I'd really suggest going ahead and looking for a crappy 'real' job while you get on your feet.
Right now, in this market and economy in the US, I will tell you that leaving is something you definitely want to do AFTER you have another job already locked in with a definitive start date. You want to give your employer 2 weeks notice at least because these days they love to get even with anyone who burns a bridge and they can get away with it because jobs are at a premium. I know you are unhappy with your current position, but as a freelance illustrator, i can tell you that steady income is not the norm. If it weren't for my wife's steady salary, our month to month expenses would be pretty hard to handle. Some months I bring in a lot and others i bring in peanuts. I still can't afford health insurance. Way too expensive. I ride a bicycle anywhere I need to go because having a monthly expense of a car is difficult. don't get me wrong, I make money, but I just feel that the very nature of freelance is uncertainty and instability in financial flow. Maybe one day that will change if I get lucky, but right now, not so much.
The freelance market has all the perks I am sure you have heard about, but it is a tough and super competitive market. it has to be. If you aren't tough and uber competitive with the ability to sell yourself well, you will not survive long. so if you have those traits and can be a REAL self starter and self motivator and have a very tough and no nonsense approach to how you treat your work time on a daily basis, just stay where you are until you find more steady work.
You should probably start looking for a different job in your field.
Surely going to art school made you some connections other than that one? Is that the only job you ever could have gotten with your degree? Get in touch with people who graduated from your major who are working in the field and see if anyone else knows of any job openings for an illustrator.
Or, if your school has a service that helps alumni find jobs, utilize it.
I'm not familiar with the illustration/animation industry as a job area. However, if it feels like a dead-end, start putting your application and portfolio out for other jobs. One of two things (hopefully) will happen. You'll find a new, better job, or you'll find your current job starting to lead somewhere. Sometimes there's just a burnout period in your career. I know this spring I was just ready to quit what I was doing. Then, lo and behold, opportunities opened up and things got better. Hopefully things work as well for you.
I'm a freelancer (musician), my mother is a freelancer (programming). Without my father's job we wouldn't be able to hold our house or live the way we're used to. Also my mother wouldn't have the money for an age-insurance (or however it's called, I'm from Germany, "Rentenversicherung" is the thing I mean..) which would mean poverty later on.
The moment I choose to become what I am, I knew that it would be really hard without a partner. Thanks god my husband does have a good-paid job. I know how other freelance-musicians live. It's not everybody's cup of tea....
Also I know that if I get children, I'll be a housewife. It would be stpid to risk the father's job just so that I can stay a freelancer. I'm OK with that, but If you want a carreer, don't think of freelancing AND kids at the same time.
Also there is something really pretty in not being a freelancer: At the moment I'm in bed with a nasty cold. I fear I can't work tomorrow, which means I won't get paid. A freelancer only gets paid for what they do. No work - no money. It is true that you can earn a lot of money in a short time (A well-paid gig in my case, my mother often does things like "I can fix it over the weekend, if it works, that'll get reallllly expensive, else I won't charge you anything"), but there will also be times noone wants you to work for them.
So all in all freelancers are chronically underpaid, don't know if they'll have money next week and are the first to be kicked out of projects.
It is true, you can do what you want. But believe me, most of the time you'll end up doing everything for money. There is a nice joke: What does a freelance musician say to an employed musician? "Two hotdogs, please. and don't forget the mustard."
Yes, you can also decide WHEN to do something. Most of the time, that means working day and night to get something finished without anybody caring.
Also you should take into consideration how you'll be paid. I guess you're paid by the hour now. My mother is paid by the hour. I'm paid by the hour while teaching, for really being a musician I'm paid per ocassion. The last one is nice for buying new shoes....... You're most likely to be paid by the outcome, which is really bad.....
If I had a chance, I'd choose employment over freelancing. But there are not many people who employ a musician full-time My mother started freelancing to become a housewife, not to get away from employment.
Oh, and there won't be a carreer in freelancing, you'll just stay that- a freelancer (and without payrise )
So don't give up a job because you're not fullfilled with it. You could (seecretly) search for another employer or just keep an eye on things, but you're already luckier than a lot of people.
i do realize how fortunate i am to have this job. its like gold dust, but i do sometimes feel i've sacrificed some freedom for it. i think my problem at the moment is i feel highly undervalued. at the moment, a bit of a doormat
That said, with house and car payments, and the potential for a family - moving carefully and conservatively has value. I think our culture has a mistaken outlook on careers as emotionally satisfying; we should love what we do (born of an era when people were told to love whatever they're doing). A job is something you get paid for because you'd rather be doing something else; it's the dues for doing what you love the rest of the time. The 'rest of the time' is something to consider: is it worth trading corporate soul-sucking for freedom shot through with a concern for finances? 'Cause even a good time freelancing is fraught with boom and bust cycles, and there will be times that money sucks.
Also, while you mention a lot of what you're doing, you don't talk much about what you would do. Is there enough work to make ends meet? To keep you busy? I think that factors in heavily.
My suggestion would be to keep the job while you explore the opportunities for freelancing. Take a month and see how much work is really out there in commissions: it'll probably make for a couple weeks with very long hours, but would give you more confidence in your choice either way.
And ultimately, you can always keep looking for something new while you're still working.
Well you will never know for sure if you won't give it a try. Some people I know are full-time freelancers and happy with it. You can check out [link] There are plenty of posts about all sorts of illustration jobs. Good luck!
I kinda know how you feel on that one My second job was production assistant for a children's show but after a little while I felt miserable because even though I know production assistant isn't the creative job I was going for, I got so little work and started to feel undervalued and down that they pretty much said they planned to let me go because of telling them how I felt.
I'm not 100% sure what I could say for sure since I'm still 'starting out' but maybe tell your boss how you feel about it etc? Or look for somewhere else while you're still working there? I'm currently a freelancing animator (at the same place where I was production assistant) and I've been there for a little while now so yeah, if it makes you happy, go for freelancing. I have some connections so if ever I didn't have any work where I am now, I can just get in contact with other people.
I dunno if that helps at all but don't let yourself suffer, it's not at all great.