A roundup of the most significant lessons I have learnt and want to pass on.
i. Look out for red flags when a project or commission comes in. Are they really enthusiastic first few emails, and then it’s really hard to get a hold of them? Red Flag! Red flags can come in all different ways it will get easier to spot them at a distance over time. Don’t feel shy about getting references from other people about who you are working with, could save you some serious stress later on down the line. If the project is something you want to stick with, but red flags are coming up, just get 50% deposit before you do the work or hand over the work.
ii. Validation by association. These people want to work with you depending on who you have worked with or who you know. Drop these people like hot rocks; they are not worth your time or energy. As they won't have your best interests at heart and I have always found these projects to be very two-faced.
iii. Stay in your own lane. I can’t stress enough this point how important it is to stick to your voice only. I work with blinkers on to what other artist are doing, I find if I start absorbing what others may be doing, I can feel serious artist block coming on.
iv. Ask for help. You are not supposed to know it all and don’t feel ashamed of asking people I do it probably everyday.
v. Cut toxic people out of your life. This was a huge game changer in my life. We live in the times of unsubscribe and unfollow. If there is a company who treated you badly say goodbye.
vi. Hold out for what you want. Knowing what it is you want creates great drive it also means when a less shiny but tempting offer comes along you don’t settle.
vii. Know your expenses. Last year I hired an accountant to do my tax returns and basically get my accounts in order to see what the hell I am doing. It was the best money spent, knowing your costs helps you to work out where you can splurge (mine is usually on Japanese paper) and where you have to cut back. Money worries are paralysing, so having them sorted is such a relief.
viii. Get a lawyer. Invest in getting a supply of work form contract made up. If you are selling your work or taking commissions this is something you mustn’t ignore. It will protect your work and you. The law doesn’t make exceptions for bohemians.
ix. Don’t let no be the final answer. I have had so many no’s I don’t think I even hear the word anymore. Rejection is part of the journey to becoming the artist you want to be. It is a subjective industry so don’t take it personally. I just recommend spreading out the rejection so you don’t absorb it too much.
x.Don’t work for Free. I worked for free on many projects when I first got out of uni. And I do recommend doing this to gather a portfolio together. Also working for free you get a sense of work you do and don’t like. But set a cut off date, as it will eat into your self worth. If a company (and they are usually big companies) says they can’t pay you the standard rate that’s because they don’t value you enough to pay. And that goes back to point number one, looking out for red flags! Someone who doesn’t value your self worth and time guaranteed it will be a bumpy ride working with them.
xi. Get everything in writing. If you have a meeting face to face write to them within the next 24hrs with what was said and what you understood was discussed. Same if you have a phone call write it up. You may think this is a waste of time but believe me, it saves time in the long run especially if a client changes their mind you can refer back to the email.
Picture : Studio Detail by Remco Merbis