I'm not a writer, I don't really write my thoughts at all so first I'd like to apologise for this insult to the english language.
I recently listened to a fantastic podcast from Ashley Baxter and Paddy Donnelly, you should listen to it if you haven't already. Very inspiring stuff. I think the part that stood out most to me is when Paddy speaks about the amount that goes into doing what you love, the effort it takes to get to a place that you can actually just do what you love instead of planning and working to get there. This got me reflecting on how I got to where I am today and made me think I should share my journey so far.
I've always wanted to draw for a living, I've always been an illustrator. When I was a kid I'd sit and copy characters from cartoon network magazines or disney video covers, I have dyslexia and never really excelled at anything else. I went into secondary school barley being able to read or write, bottom of all of my classes with not much hope for a successful future. Which is why I don't think it matters if people have brains, I'm really not that bright I just work really really hard to be better at what I love, no matter what. When I left school I went on to study design at college then got a degree in illustration, not bad for a bottom class loser ey? ha.
So, personally I don't think my education had a massive amount to do with being self employed or doing what I loved for a living, I struggled with pretty much everything in classes, course work, tests, the works. I never really could just 'do well'. When I left uni I'm not ashamed to say I ended up on the good ol' dole with oh so many of my peers. Feeling let down by the system I slumped into a pretty crappy place, depression and major weight gain. I lost all confidence in my ability to become a creative for a living, I told myself I'd been dreaming until this point. After months of applying for generic customer service jobs and even thinking of going back to college to do another, more reliable course I decided to have a look around my local area for design agencies and creative events, I thought I should do something with this degree of mine, after all it did cost me 20k! Thank god I did.
The next 2 years or so consisted of me using what little money I had spare to travel to the local cities in search of work, I ended up getting a lot of great work experience but no job at the end of it. This is when I decided to go freelance, I borrowed some money from my grandpops to buy an old £400 imac from ebay and got cracking. I never in a million years thought I'd make enough to live on but thought maybe it could allow me to only go for a part time job in some dead end job instead of full time. I started with a few jobs here and there, managed to get on dribbble and got talking to people, things took off faster than I ever expected. I would say for the next 3 years I hardly left the house, didn't see my friends or even picked up my beloved PS controller. I worked from the moment I woke up until the moment I went to sleep but I didn't care because hey! people paid me to draw stuff!!!
I think maybe the part of my story I'm most proud of is when I officially began freelancing and really started to get in deep with my business I had some pretty insane things going on around me. I signed off in May and in June I'd been called up to the hospital, my 6 year old sister had blacked out in a waiting room, woke up and forgot who everyone was including my mum. That night, after draining her head of built up fluid and her memory, thankfully, returning we discovered she had cancer, a brain tumor. In the months that followed I was trying to build a business without any real money to speak of, enough to cover the bills and some beans on toast. I was also traveling to my home town to see my sister and spent as much time with her as I could as well as trying to keep as energetic and positive as possible that she would get better. It took every ounce of energy I could muster, to this day I don't know where it came from, maybe seeing her smiling and laughing while going through chemo and constant operations, she inspired me. My baby sister died the following January. The worst day of my life.
For the first year of self employment I dealt with stress, anxiety, loss and depression all while working every hour god sent to get my business to where it needed to be. I even returned to work the morning after she passed. It was a tough call to make but in all honesty I was thankful for it, in the real world I held my baby sister while she died but in my 'work' world I could get lost and go to something I knew, something I understood, something that would save me from the unbearable pain. I worked harder than ever, may not have been the healthiest choice but it worked for me and now I look back I'm pretty proud of myself for making a go of it regardless of the situation. It just shows you that if you're really passionate about doing something you love, you won't be stopped, you will take those horrible things and turn them into something great. Becky totally loved that I was an illustrator, she loved that I was creative and we bonded over that so much, spending hours drawing or making things together, that gave my the motivation.
So really, she saved my career, for that I'll be forever grateful.
With regards to the future, I really hope to be able to spend more time on some personal projects, those little passion projects that niggle at the back of my head when I'm falling asleep at night. Yea, that would be awesome, not without it's hard work and many hours of moulding though, I look forward to it all.
Don't be fooled, you may look at me and think 'yea, she's doing what she loves, she made it' but I still work my arse off every day, I still try my very best and the biggest point I need to make is I still make mistakes, I still have those down days when I beat myself up for not doing a good enough job, I still struggle with money worries, I'm really not 'there' but thats what makes it all so exciting. If you want to do what you love be prepared to put yourself last, look after those around you and use any piece of time and energy you have spare to make what you love work. Nothing, ever comes easy.
Cheers for reading