I was recently contacted by a cool gal named Molly about some questions regarding life as an illustrator. Molly is a designer and illustrator up in Minneapolis (AKA the Austin of the Midwest). I asked her if I could turn her questions into a blog post and she kindly told me to go for it.
M: I'd love to know what your experience was like transitioning from someone who makes art for fun to someone who makes art for a living. Was there a moment you knew you wanted to turn your skill set into a business?
I've always been an art kid. In 3rd grade I was determined to win the fire prevention poster contest, in middle school I designed our field trip tees and in high school I ran for student council so I could design the dance posters.
It was instilled in me at an early age to be my own boss. I don't think this path is for everybody, but it has always motivated me. I inherited my creativity from my mom and my entrepreneurial spirit from my dad. Part of choosing graphic design as a major in college was knowing that it could provide the flexibility to work for myself (or even go part time). I assumed after a couple years at a design job I'd easily be able to transition into full-time self-employment. While it actually did work out this way (thanks to my book deal), it was not easy. My preparation included building a portfolio site and emailing friends and family to "keep me in mind" if anyone needed a graphic designer (I did have some consistent work lined up too).
I'm glad I jumped in when I did, but if somebody close to me were to tell me they're about to take the plunge, I'd ask them if they've read The E-Myth, know their general rates, figured out what they need to earn and how they'll track every hour for the first 3 months, at least (I use Harvest). I'd also ask if they have 1-3 people their field that they can call on with any and all questions and even better, if they're not afraid to ask questions in the first place. And then I'd congratulate them because working for yourself is the best. In 2014 my travel time added up to six weeks. Since I'm in charge of my schedule, I got to spend time opening my print shop, work on a book proposal and seek out some fun collaborations. I really really love what I do.