I assure you that’s an extreme exaggeration simply placed for comedic effect. It does illustrate the change in thinking from Day 1 to Day 30. Looking back, the motions one goes through during this period now seem logical. At the time, however, they seemed like a badly choreographed tumbling-dance through each day. The first few days were spent reaching out to colleagues and friends, over the phone and through messages. The remainder of the week was spent reaching out to all of those people who I declined when they asked me to work on various freelance projects. I now had the time and keeping busy would be a good thing. Oh yeah, there was also a lot of THINKING and some math to do.
The remainder of the days has been spent working on those various projects—a few websites, print design, art direction on a book cover project, branding, painting, etc.—I wear a lot of hats. I’ve retooled my website, set-up a Society6 store to offer some of my work as prints and started to straighten up the studio. I got to do some of the things that I’ve been meaning to get to. I even got some personal painting time in and at a time of the year where there ordinarily wouldn’t be any spare time with all the holiday activities. I’m even seeing my house in daylight. I’ve also realized that people generally drive too fast. Probably because they have to be somewhere by a specific time.
I suppose the thing which has changed most is my perspective. Normally, I’m a positive person, always looking for a silver lining in any situation. I can’t say that I arrived at my new perspective in one smooth thought. There were mind games about what I should be doing and how the hours of each day should be spent. Initially, I sought to spend each hour doing something that would be billable, so that at the end of the week, I could arrive at that magic number (remember, there was math done in the first week). As time went on, I realized that wasn’t practical or the way it should work. There would be no harmony in my work if I continued that way. After all, in this creative line of work we find ourselves in, what we truly strive to create is an existence that is both work and our passion at the same time. There are no borders or edges between the two. It is composed entirely of breath and being. Never before has the Michener quote that I have used in my lectures meant more to me than now:
“The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he’s always doing both. ”
—James A. Michener
In my tenure as an on-staff Art Director, I have always been considerate to the illustrators I have worked with as I knew of the challenges they face as freelancers. I’ve always worked hard to arrive at a piece of art that was something of value to the illustrator, either a good portfolio piece, something that would help them grow into new areas or something that would be fun for them to create. I can now say that not only do I know of the challenges a freelance illustrator faces, I understand them as well.
I can’t say how long I’ll be living the freelance life. Eventually, the right job opportunity will present itself.
Image: “Winter” 5×7 acrylic on board © 2014 Matthew Kalamidas