Time flies when you’re having fun! I still feel super young and youthful even though I’ve done what I feel is a lot in my life already. But I know the best years are still ahead of me and I’m so excited about what the future brings!
Six weeks ago I shifted career paths, decided to go back into the working world and accepted a job as a Recruiter with Creative Circle in San Francisco. The opportunity just felt so right as I have freelanced and worked in the creative industry since 2006. I’ve shifted through so many career paths and so many different jobs, roles, and experiences!
I’m really excited for this new career shift because I know I can really bring my experience and industry knowledge into the business of recruiting talent. I love helping and connecting people with each other and I’ve owned my business on and off and freelancing with small businesses on the side. I also really loved the short time I taught classes at the Academy of Art University of San Francisco between 2016-2017, where I mentored students in figuring out their career paths and helping them put together their resumes and portfolios.
I also turned 37. Whoa. I’m glad I’ve come this far, another year, another birthday, a new adventure.
I’m still creating art after work hours 😄Check out my graphic design resources on Creative Market
In my 37 years I’ve learned:
To bite my tongue. (I have a really bad mouth sometimes, I can let shit fly off the rails)
People who see their own shortcomings think that you will to, even though your experiences are completely different.
The old stories we tell ourselves no longer matter in the present story of who we are now.
I used to ignore lots of conflicts with friends and family in my 20s, now I’ve learned to face them as they come.
Running away from your problems only makes them worse.
To be accountable and hold integrity for my actions. I walk the talk.
Listening is a super power.
Grateful for all of the lessons I’ve learned along the way.
Proud of the path that I followed even though it wasn’t what I expected, I learned so much along the way and discovered who I was.
Taking action has always been my super power, that the only difference between where I am now and where I wanted to get to was by taking action.
Life is short, there is no second life. Live it in the best possible way, I know what it’s like to have loss and to pick myself up and start over.
The more you address your fears and old behaviors that are no longer working for you, the faster you accelerate and change. And the more you have breakthroughs.
Artist Tips: Create multiple portfolios for different industries
Creating multiple portfolios for different industries is a great way to test out which market responds better to your work. For graphic designers and illustrators: you probably should create a professional industry portfolio and continue developing another portfolio just dedicated to illustration work. I would highly recommend this!
Because most of the time companies will only want to see samples of work related to the specific job you are applying for. If you are trying to get work in the advertising/digital marketing space, make sure you have work to reflect that industry and vice versa. Or for a game artist or concept artist– make sure you are showing portfolio pieces that are specific to that industry.
Even if you want to highlight and include certain work in your portfolio, it may not be relevant to what companies want to see. So consider that thought. You should also try to keep your portfolio focused, even if it is only a few pieces of good work. Quality of work is always better than the quantity of work.
It can be a really confusing time being a young artist or finding a career path that’s suited for you and something that you can see yourself doing for the next year, or maybe 3-5 years down the road. Or maybe you are switching career paths? I always say that having experience working for a company is never wasted. It could be a great learning opportunity while you figure out what you want to do. Figuring out what you are truly passionate about may take some time and evolution as an artist. Whatever path you walk in, walk with intention. Set some goals for the next year or two and build a career strategy that you can evolve into. Be realistic as to what kind of experience can help build your career.
Most companies will look for experience in your resume for the position you are applying for. Its hard to break out in an industry that you don’t have any experience in, but there are places to find short term projects and experiences that you can build along the way. Having at least 1-2 years of experience doing projects or entry level work is a good place to start, or even finding an internship for a few months or working with a startup with a smaller budget.
Do some research in market trends and look at the industry you want to get work in and ask:
Who are the top companies out there?
What work do these companies want to see in a candidate’s portfolio?
What are some things I can ask industry experts for advice?
Who are the top candidates in this industry and what can you learn from their work that you can apply to your own discipline?
What are some of the things I like to do? What are some of my hobbies? How can I merge my passion into a career path that I like? Are there any companies that reflect that lifestyle?
Another pro tip:
Look at job descriptions of companies, observe the skills you need to master and gain experience from.
Find people who work in the companies you like on LinkedIn and look up their portfolios to see what you can learn from their work.
More on how to reach out to professionals and starting conversations on LinkedIn in another post and video.
Some of the places I would start looking for projects:
Creative Hotlist www.creativehotlist.com
Craigslist, checking out the Creative Gigs section for the city you live in, maybe there are smaller companies or independent business owners who have smaller budgets to work with.
Working with or helping a small company locally that may not have a big budget but can offer you some experience and useful industry knowledge you can learn from.
When I first started out as a graphic designer and trying to find work with companies, I created a portfolio specifically for the industry that I wanted to work in. And then I kept a personal art blog while I was studying for my Masters degree in Visual Development. More on that here
Artists Tips: How Many Portfolios should I create and what industries can I find work?
I get quite a few emails on Linkedin from students who just graduated or people switching careers from a full time job to go completely freelance, my whole career and resume on my profile has been freelance. Except for maybe a few places I’ve worked long term. Many people wonder how I’ve managed to find work and the answer I’m going to give you is that I had to put it in a lot of effort looking for work. When I graduated in 2013 from Grad school, I found that there wasn’t a lot of support for job placement.
What I did looking for work, ended up working for me. It wasn’t an easy process but I literally spent two-three hours a day looking for work online and calling recruiters. I mean I hustled! And I stayed consistent and persistent and I wouldn’t let anything bring me down, I learned how to pick myself up when the going got rough and learned to bounce back. I kept moving forward and trying new things. If one thing didn’t work, I tried a new strategy and I stayed in a positive mindset.
But before I decided to look for work, I got really clear about what kind of work I wanted to do and focused on the environment and company I wanted to work with. Visualize where you want to be.
You have to be willing to put yourself out there and tell people what you do.
Here’s what I did to put myself out there:
I signed up with a bunch of creative recruitment agencies, there’s quite a few out there. My personal favorite : 24Seven Inc Los Angeles, they found me some of the best jobs and companies to work with. Which included landing a short animated commercial project at Skechers USA in Manhattan Beach and a short two day project at WME in Beverly Hills. I also signed up with Creative Circle, The Creative Group, and Apple One (Which sometimes they have graphic design jobs.)
I put my portfolio up everywhere there was an online community. I have smaller versions of my portfolio on Coroflot, Carbonmade, Behance, and Freelanced.com. I even made a Tumblr and Facebook Page to get my stuff out there and to put out a presence online. I guarantee you somewhere down the road people will find your work online that may need your services. I even posted ads on Craiglist and occasionally found work on Craigslist. Luckily people have been finding my work online and that’s how I get some freelance opportunities.
I went out and attended networking events and mixers constantly! I brought my business cards where ever I went and treated every moment as an opportunity to meet people that may be working in the industry I wanted to be in and asked a lot of questions! You never know who you’re going to meet or who you happen to be randomly talking to – you may just vibe with them and want to help you along the way. I also went to events where there were lots of recruiters and I also got in touch with them and sent over my resume. I suggest looking on Eventbrite for event happenings every week, I also suggest Network after Work and the Ad Society LA – were my favorite networking events to attend, its all going to be dependent on the city you live.
I always say: Keep creating opportunities for yourself and Stay Positive! It can be frustrating looking for work.
Create an elevator pitch for yourself. Who are you? What differentiates you from the crowd? What is a unique trait or skill set that you have that makes you unique? Craft something unique and clever that you can talk about yourself and what you do to get other people’s attention.
Work on your art or designs constantly and stay in the habit of regularly updating your work online. Be consistent. If you want to target only a certain market than cater your portfolio towards that. But I look for both graphic design and illustration jobs because I like both. I found that people who wanted to hire me on projects was because I draw a lot of girl characters and my style is adaptable. I’m not your typical artist where I stick with one style, but I like the exploration and variety of drawing in different styles. You have to figure out what’s going to work for you and focus on that, and hopefully you can find work through what you have in your portfolio.
Make sure you are on social media! I’ve had people also find my work through instagram, twitter, and Angel.co, Society6 and Dribbble. I’ve even had people reach out through Linkedin messaging and my new favorite a business networking app called Shapr. (I’m resourceful)
Follow up on your contacts. Make sure you send them an email, a text or a call on the phone to let them know that you are still looking for work or are still interested- and this applies to recruiters, people you’ve worked with at companies, people you meet at networking events. Find a way to stay in contact and keep the communication open.
Good luck out there and don’t give up!
Anyway, I hope this helped you in some way! If you have any questions please feel free to shoot me any questions through email! This article was originally published on Linkedin.
Starting to blog about my daily/weekly thoughts! Let’s see how often I can keep up with this! I really love shooting and editing videos! Check out my channel where I will start vlogging more about all things freelancing, how to create a sustainable income as an artist and so much more! Subscribe to my channel if you like this kind of content!
Just some thoughts on going to grad school, freelancing, and working from home. The path I followed was never a straight one! Moving from California to New York and then back again to California! As creatives we are constantly changing our minds!
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Many artists and creative people fantasize about creating a project that they have a great passion for. But the reality is that these projects remain a fantasy and never get brought out and shared into the real world. This is the one thing that I think artists and creatives have trouble with. They often ask themselves, “How do I get my ideas out into the real world? How can I go from fantasy or fantasizing about my passion project and set some realistic goals? You can and you will. You need DISCIPLINE, ORGANIZATION, and ROUTINE.
Quite recently, a good friend inquired about the creative process and how I managed to finish my Graphic Novel “Dreamwalker” that I self-published back in 2011. Looking back in reflection now, I have to confess that it was not an easy process. Often times I wondered whether I would make any monetary gain or if people actually would be interested enough to read it. And there were many reasons I almost didn’t create it, and those reasons were just outside noise and distraction. And I realized that none of those things mattered. What mattered was that I was passionate about creating this project for my very own self satisfaction and at the time I was creating it – there were months where I had a burst of creative energy running through me. This burst of creative energy kept me up at night. Almost every night! When inspiration hits, you have to go with it – let it flow through you, let it come out the way it wants to come out with no judgement. Over thinking these amazing creative projects won’t help it from being born. Its like a baby that you need to constantly nurture, be patient with, and there will be struggles and challenges – but that’s part of the process.
Sometimes you’ll doubt yourself or become completely over joyed, but regardless of what you think the outcome should be – you must enjoy the process and follow through with it.
Being able to do what you love is sometimes the reward itself. Our passions fuel us.
Well its easier said than done right?How do we even begin or start the process of creating these amazing projects? Whether it be a graphic novel, a novel, a short film or a painting/drawing, whatever it is you have to put pen to paper. Write that shit down. Record it. Track it. The process of writing something out by hand does some amazing things to the brain. It helps us remember so much more than merely tapping a few buttons on your phone or even typing out words onto your laptop. I’m not going to go into this in detail, but here is a cool article I found online explaining this. Click here
Think of working on this passion project as part of your routine everyday, setting aside a few minutes to an hour everyday to your passion project can lead you closer to finishing it. Routine makes for good building, in order to build something amazing, you have to do the work. If you’re on the verge of finishing a page, a drawing, and its 2 o’clock in the morning – that’s probably a sign to quit and save the rest for the next day. Balance is what helps us, if we don’t get adequate sleep and rest – how can you put your all and your 100% best into something you love? The only way to get real world results is to constantly work on this project, whatever the amount of time you can dedicate to seeing it through – Do it. No excuse. Got back to back work meetings all day? Go to a cafe right after work and give yourself 20 minutes to work on it. You’ll get more done in those 20 minutes than trying to think about it during work.
Every artist has their own special and unique process of creating things. Some of us struggle with many different excuses or procrastination. How did I finish my “Dreamwalker” Graphic Novel? Well for one, I had a constant obsession with a story that was stuck in my mind for about two years before I even produced it. And let me tell you, it was a never ending process! When I went about planning my pages and how best to convey the story, I had thumbnails upon thumbnails of stick drawings with dialogue notes on the side! ( I work in 1×2 in thumbnail boxes) I ended up re-drawing and editing a page more than twice, I’d mess up, I’d spill ink everywhere or realize I totally missed a drawing that I wanted to include. I’d have other friends that I trusted to help revise my work or give me ideas at different points of the project. Art is such a collaborative process that I relied on the good advice that my friends generously gave to me, even if you want to do your own thing – constructive criticism is very valuable. It took me about 6-8 months to finish my graphic novel. the first three months was just solely working on story ideas and research. The next 3-4 months was spent drawing and inking. I think by the end of it all, I developed a system for myself in managing the drawings that I ended up cranking things out in April and May of 2011. Most of the things that I did in the last month was scanning, designing the layout for the pages and color correcting jpegs in photoshop. Make a list from start to finish and you can determine what needs to get done when it needs to be done. If you don’t, you can burn out and waste time.
The most important element to be able to finish a project is COMMITMENT. Commitment to yourself, to the project, and commitment to following through to finish. You decide what’s more important to you.
Do something about it. We all have a a very special way of looking at the world – and to have something born out of you leaves a very special energy pattern on the world. And that should be enough motivation for you to finish your work. You are important.
The very thing that you choose to do now can positively alter your future. No pain, no gain.
I’ve made a list of things that I do to get myself going and whether you find it useful or not – it will serve as a good reminder of getting yourself organized. The key here is ORGANIZATION. Organizing your thoughts, ideas, notes is the first step really. If you can’t do that – I don’t know what else to tell you. Learning to discipline yourself is a good lesson to go through, if you don’t have discipline than you can’t focus. If you can’t focus on one thing at a time or that moment you set aside to work on your passion – then it will remain just a potential. Who wants to spend their life just being a potential?
Set the bar high for yourself and you’ll succeed even if you think you’ve failed. Do what you believe is great work.
Keep track of you. Some ideas to get you started:
Get a journal, write in it 10 minutes a day or more to record tasks, make lists. Jot down notes on research or things you want to accomplish for the week.
Schedule. Use your Google Calendar to sync to your mobile phone calendar. Even if it is a small increment of time such as 10-25 mins, schedule it into your workday – you’ll benefit from working on one small thing every day and soon you’ll start to see those little things adding up. Schedule in anything that has to be done that day, whether its sending an email or doing the laundry – you’ll be able to track your time better and see whether you are making progress or just wasting time. ( But time is never wasted in my opinion, things you may never use as part of the research and development process can teach you a lot.)
Setting realistic goals. They could be short and long term goals, you can make separate lists for yourself and re-evaluate on a weekly or monthly basis.
Give yourself a deadline. If you want to put something out there into the world then you must give yourself a reasonable deadline and mark it on your calendar. Having a deadline will help you get things done.
Ask yourself, “Why am I doing this project?” Is it monetary? Is it my passion? Regardless of your reason, giving yourself a specific outcome will help you in finishing this project. Maybe you want to get your work ready for a festival, workshop, submission to a publisher, etc.
Tune into your inner self. How? Well, get quiet and find a comfortable space and let yourself DAYDREAM. This is the only way great ideas can come in – is when you are open and receptive to that universal flow of energy. Einstein was said to have “thought experiments” when he scheduled in a period of time in the afternoon to let his thoughts wander and lead him into some amazing insights. In one year he published a collection of essays on the theory of relativity. Go ahead Google it.
Get Visual. Do some image research online – find things that inspire you – it could be about the story’s location, a character outfit, etc. Use your imagination! Print your images out and create a Vision Board for your project. You can also create a mood board on color, places and environment, character drawings and ideas, this is your world – Create it and let it fuel your imagination! Better yet, find images on Pinterest! This is a great way to create some digital boards – if you wish!
Listen to Music. Create a playlist in your computer, ipad, mobile device, etc. Or get on Pandora, spotify, or any of those awesome music sites.
Watch some Movies for inspiration. Feeling stuck or hindered by your project? Watch some Princess Bride, or the Matrix, or whatever suits your fancy.
Because of technology and computers people can now live, work and travel to different places. So many jobs in tech have allowed people to live life on their own terms, living a life of passion and free will versus being held down by a 9-5 job that you have to go to everyday. This is at the core of every entrepreneur I know, to be able to do what you love on your own time and schedule without the restraints of a traditional job. But even now corporate companies are allowing people to work remotely and offsite. So the dynamics of the working world is changing, we are changing as a society.
Gone are the days that you have to stay and confine yourself to a job that may not fulfill your goals. You can now create the life you want and be completely autonomous without a boss.
I recently came back from a trip to Las Vegas, a good friend of mine invited and hosted me at their house for a week and I am so glad I went.
Traveling and working has been a really cool experience for me, this is my 2nd year doing it, the first time was visiting Vancouver in 2016 where another friend hosted me at their place. And I also have family who live there so that was a bonus. I really love seeing different places and experiencing new things and being mobile.
Not once did I even consider ever living or working in Las Vegas. The night scene is so chalk full of fun entertainment, music, comedies, and live shows. When I was younger, my family and I used to travel to Vegas in the summers during the early 90s when The Mirage was super popular. Now I see Las Vegas as so much more than just the strip, but staying outside of the strip is seriously relaxing.
Rejuvenute, relax, and slow down.
The idea of working and traveling somewhere new for a week is so appealing to me for the sheer reason that I can take myself out from my routine without having to meet with clients or to have to be responsible for my teenage son is the most freeing and relaxing experience. The summertime is also a great time for my son to visit his dad in San Diego and I can catch a break from him. It’s nice for once to not have to worry about anything else besides yourself.
When I take a break from my reality do I really get to step outside of myself and get to see things from a different perspective. As someone who is a workaholic, I can come back to a more present state of awareness where I can reconnect with a deeper part of myself, listening to an inner guidance. And the most freeing aspect is being able to create from a spontaneous point of view where you can allow yourself that time and space to dream or come up with new ideas.
I worked anywhere between 2-4 hours a day during the entire week I was there and took some time in between to lay out by the pool to get a tan or go swimming. Then I’d take a short nap in the late afternoon and my friend would take me out onto the strip to check out a few different hotels and bars.
This week really forced me to slow down and really be more present and to not worry about things that are out of my control. You can only control your present reality. I’ve been wanting to work on other projects including a short animated film that I’ve been working on with a team of artist friends, we also just launched our web comic! Check that out on webtoons or visit my studio site: www.prismlightstudios.la
I really did enjoy my time here and am planning on more work, travel trips in the near future.