I work as a freelance illustrator and animator. I have been fortunate to work with a variety of companies and organisations across Wales on projects such as children's books, murals, animated explainer videos and editorial illustration.
In many ways it happened accidentally. Following graduation I knew I wanted to spend time working abroad, but the pandemic cut those plans short in 2020 and I found myself back at home. Fortunately, I had worked on some professional projects while I was still at university and while abroad. During the start of the pandemic I was approached by more potential clients thanks to those early projects, this soon developed into a full-time occupation, and I haven't looked back since.
I had the intention of being an Illustrator/Animator for many years, but had no idea how to go about this. It was at USW that this idea solidified into a plan, thanks to the guidance and honest advice of the tutors on the Illustration course. I also attended some of USW's Student Enterprise workshops during my final year, which helped prepare me for the more mundane aspects of freelancing such as invoicing and professional practise.
My favourite aspect of my freelance business is being able to spend days and weeks trying to bring someone's idea or story to life through images. This is especially true of illustrating children's books or animation. It also brings me a lot of fulfilment to interact with people during the process and makes me very happy when I'm told that something has brightened someone else's day.
The main challenge has been keeping a sustainable work/life balance, especially during the lockdowns and the early days of the pandemic. Since it's a passion as well as an occupation, it's very easy to spend unpaid hours working late, to make sure something is "perfect."
I try not to stick to a rigid 5 year plan, so there's space to embrace new opportunities as they come. However, having freelanced for a couple of years now, I've found that I'm most content when working in a team. I would be very happy to continue working as a freelance illustrator, and I hope to continue illustrating children's books and writing my own - but if I could choose, I would like to work within a creative company as a member of a team.
I attended a week-long Student Enterprise workshop during my final year at USW.
It helped me frame my occupation as a realistic career choice, so long as I made sure I approached it with a business mindset as well as seeing it as a passion. It was also very motivating to be surrounded by fellow students from so many different courses and listen to their ideas.
While it's normal to be scared of taking this step - whether it's because of money or the fear of failure - the real thing is rarely as scary as the spectre you might have made it out to be. Break it down into actionable steps; look for the support of peers, family and mentors; make sure you pay your taxes, and go for it. You fail automatically if you don't try.
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