Well, after thinking it was going to be a very busy summer, I’m now in freefall. Kind of like driving along thinking there’s going to be a bridge over the thousand-foot-deep gorge and realizing halfway across that there isn’t one.
All right, the Really Big Job I was working on got cancelled abruptly and the smaller jobs that were making me frantic to keep up are all done. So, now, nothing. Which puts me back to the question of “What do I do with my downtime?”
There are a number of things I could do. Like clean up my studio.
Or maybe finally finish that drawing on the desk. Now there’s a concept.
The point being, I need to work at not working—all those things I could have been doing except that I was too busy to do them are still there waiting. Time to make a list and get started.
Just to prove I haven’t been a total slacker, here’s a spread from my Sketchbook Project:
Yeah, that leaves 30 more pages by April. But I’m working on it!
Of course, as soon as I get a personal project with a deadline, I get hit with freelance jobs. Which is good. Even though it cuts into personal project time. But it brings up the question I’ve been avoiding for a while now—am I a freelancer?
When the company I worked for closed down in 2010, I started freelancing to pay the bills and go back to school so that I could find a “real” job. It was just a temporary thing. It’s been a temporary thing for over a year now. And how often have I gone around looking for something permanent? Not often at all. The thing is, when I take on a freelance job I commit to it, just like a “real” job. Because it is a real job—and one that I’m totally responsible for. I don’t have the safety net of co-workers making up for me if I can’t meet a deadline or just can’t do the work up to the client’s standards. So I don’t know how well it would go over if I called up a client to tell them I have a “real” job now, and I won’t be able to finish their project.
It’s hard to commit to being a freelancer. I never know if the job I’m working on will be the last one. I have to live on a tight budget because I don’t get paid regularly. When I’m busy, there aren’t any weekends or holidays or vacations—or sick time, for that matter. When I’m not busy, I’m stressing that this is it, I’ll never get work again. Yeah, it’s a drag to get up and commute to the cubicle job every day, but the pay is regular, you’re surrounded by supporting co-workers, and you generally get to go home at some point.
So why am I still here at the kitchen table, working? I don’t know, really. I guess it’s the challenge. It’s getting the job done early and being called a lifesaver by someone at a company 1500 miles away. It’s the siren call of that next job—what if it’s something amazing? It’s that I’ve never done this before and…well…maybe I can.
I said challenge, didn’t I?
…well, maybe not so much “out.” More like “continue.” I can’t say it was a bad year, but it was a bit uncertain, and I’m pretty sure 2012 will be the same. I could make resolutions and goals and plans and all, but I don’t know that it will get me anywhere. Mostly I plan to keep going and see where I end up. Maybe not the best way to do things, but I think it will work out in the end.
This is not to say there aren’t things I plan to improve this year. I really need to learn to organize my time. I find that when I’m crazy busy, I’m far more organized and efficient than when I don’t have much to do. I need to keep that efficiency all the time—because, let’s face it, I should always be crazy busy. There are so many art projects in my head that I don’t know how I can keep stuffing more in there—and, yet, I do. Every day. I need to get them out and finished.
I also need to figure out how to work this Internet community thing. If I’m going to continue freelancing, I need to get out more, even if it’s just virtual. I need to learn how to use LinkedIn and Twitter—and more importantly, I need to actually post stuff. I tend to treat the Internet the same way as the old office Christmas party, where I stand in a corner and listen to everyone else’s conversations. Not that it isn’t fun, but I’m never going to get anywhere if I don’t say something. Which leads to…
…do more stuff so I have stuff to say. Which, once I’m crazy busy all the time, shouldn’t be hard to do. I hope.
Anyway, here’s to a great year for everyone.
Happy New Year!
After yesterday’s post, I started wondering why doing client work makes me think I’m “settling.” Granted, I can’t always draw my favorite subject matter or use my favorite medium when I’m working for someone else, but that doesn’t mean that I need to sell myself short. Those assignments that are outside my comfort zone are a challenge and any result that passes muster should be viewed as a success. I guess I could argue that I might not think it was up to my standards, but how do I set standards on something I’ve never done before? And even if I have done it before, maybe I’m doing it better, or more efficiently, or more accurately. There’s a never-ending learning curve in art. If you find you’re doing things the same way all the time, there’s probably something wrong. So, from now on, I’m going to focus on how I’m doing my work, not just on the result. I’m thinking I’ll find things to be proud of.
And if not, I’ll just tear it up.
I destroy stuff. I mean, my own stuff. Sometimes I work on something for days or weeks and, finally, at the end, decide it just doesn’t make the cut. And I tear it up and throw it away.
I’ve had some people tell me that’s the wrong thing to do; they say that just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean someone else won’t. And they’re right, of course. Just as there are billions of people on the planet, there are billions of ways to love (or hate) art. But I think that’s all beside the point. When I’m working on something, as long as I’m not doing it specifically for someone else, mine is the only opinion that matters. And when I’m working like that, for myself, without someone else’s needs in mind, I don’t have to settle for anything but what I want. There’s no “Well, that’ll have to do…” or “If I had time, I could do it better….” It’s simply “Yes,” or “No.”
That’s a luxury I don’t often get as a freelancer, so I intend to take advantage of it whenever necessary. Even if it means I have nothing to upload because I, um, tore it up.
There’s just something about Sunday afternoons.
Saturday is full of promise and even Sunday morning has potential. But by Sunday afternoon you realize that the insane amount of things you thought you were going to accomplish over the weekend are largely still there on your to-do list, staring up at you mockingly, and you end up
a) sitting around in a funk or
b) playing silly online games.
Or both, especially when you start losing said silly online games.
And, somehow, this makes Sunday afternoons entirely worthwhile.
I’m going to win this game before the day is over—mark my words!