What To Do When You're Between Jobs
Art by Braden Hallett
“Why am I not getting illustration work?” This is a question that can bother even the most seasoned artist. Being between jobs can be frustrating and difficult, but just because your clients aren’t calling doesn’t mean you can’t keep working on other ways to be productive. Professional Illustrators Jake Parker, Lee White, and Will Terry discuss the different strategies you can utilize to spend your down time effectively, and garner more interest from potential clients.
I'm listening right now and I paused the show to answer this question for @Lee-White and @Jake-Parker
My husband and I own our own business. He's a contractor and his family owns a Printshop. And, they get asked for things ALL THE TIME. It just looks different. No one is asking my husband for free tile work or gutters, but its more like, "Can you support this or that local event, school, club? Would you purchase uniforms for the softball team? We'll put your name on the back..." With his dad, it's, "We need fliers printed for this or that fundraiser... can you do them for free?" Literally all the time. My father in law said he had to make a policy years ago about how much he can give away each year, so that he can give without being bled dry. One of his things is that He doesn't ever charge for memorial service programs. I think this is just a common thing. When you own a business, and you as the person in charge are actually accessible to people, the requests are non stop. Pretty typical.
Thanks for a brilliant podcast once again! My favourite thing is to listen 3pointperspective while painting.
I enjoyed the whole episode as usual but wanted to comment on one thing especially. Being both - an (aspiring) illustrator & a doctor - I must say I've got tons of requests for free work as a doctor and only a few as an illustrator. So quite the contrary of what you suspected!
We tend to get lots of questions/requests from friends and acquaintances for advice or to examine their traumas/symptoms/what ever and even expectations for prescriptions and remissions, minor procedures and so on for free. Once I even was looking to buy a house from a total stranger and he texted me afterwards asking for prescriptions for medicines... And that's just a peak of an iceberg .
I don't mind helping friends and family but sometimes it just bugs me that people expect me to work free but they themselves would not do anything for free in exchange or for anyone else.
As being an illustrator I every now and then get requests for paintings et cetera but mostly from my family. Friends and strangers have always offered money for painting/prints, never once have I got a request from a stranger to work free. However this might have something to do with me having done illustrating only for so long, I might change my mind after couple of years!
I do second with you however that illustrators save lives by making this world more beautiful and inspiring .
dickdavid last edited by
Another great show. Sorry Will was dropped.
I feel your pain, Jake, about clients/people not valuing your time and talent.
Lee, as a graphic designer/art director at work, I used to get lots of folks wanting free design work. For some reason, folks think the "FREE" in "Freelance" means no charge.
I'm glad Jake held to his rate and didn't let them use the COVID excuse for bidding him down.
Here's an old but classic parody of the client relationship:
Geoffrey Gordon last edited by
I don't know about other industries. I think if you have any skill that is technical you will be asked for free often enough, being in the web design industry that happens a lot. Clients naturally think you also fix computers, or program or printer issues as well so they ask for help. The worst is when someone phones you and asks you how to code or they ask you to show them how to fix their website. Basically they wanna milk your time for free.
In our industry, there is so much hype that you can set up a website for free and easy. We get so many queries where someone tried to DIY themselves and then it does quite come out the way they imagined and they get stuck. When you tell them your rates to design it properly they fall off their chair... and say so expensive. But if you start with free anything is expensive after that.
So I feel you guys... it ain't easy.
@Geoffrey-Gordon Yeah but for free they weren't able to do it LOLLL.. You'd think they would value you work when they've just themselves realized it's harder than it looks and they are unable to do it themselves.
Jane Smith 0 last edited by Jane Smith 0
@Pamela-Fraley I agree, you have to keep in mind that you are actually running a business. Unless you are one of the lucky few who can just indulge themselves. We have a charity budget each year that we parcel out and once it's gone it's gone. I find that giving every little "favour", if I do choose to do them, some minor monetary value it just focuses the client enough so that they don't abuse your good nature too much. We've arrived at this by bitter and costly experience though. I do set myself projects in quiet times but they always have an end in mind.
I love it when a new podcast comes out..am I the only one that listens to these more than once?!
I'm a glass artist who makes jewelry [as well as working on being a children's book illustrator! ] and have been asked many times for free work for charities and auctions. If I'm behind the charity I don't mind and have given my best work many times, but there's a fine line between being used and being charitable and I suppose only you know when that line has been crossed.
lpetiti last edited by
I loved this episode! It inspired me to keep improving in between books.
kylebeaudette last edited by
I organized my art office a while back, but I think it's in need of a 'stage 2'.
I like entering art contests, Jake is running one over on DeviantArt right now that I'm for sure going to take part in. I'd love to do more contests, but I usually hear about them after they're over. Is there an online site that lists various art contests taking place?
I also can confirm that reposting old art is super helpful in building your audience. Something I made a month ago that got an ok reaction online, can get a HUGE reaction when I post it again. It's so true what Jake was saying about ppl not scrolling through your whole profile. Especially on Twitter. I've posted the same sculptures multiple times, ppl don't care.
eriberart last edited by
Enjoyed this episode I have to add - if you are looking for a way to prop up reference books while you're working, get a cook book stand! This is what I do. Works perfectly
Jeremy Ross last edited by
Love the episode SVS Team!
By far, the single action that has helped me tremendously is entering every SVS Monthly Challenge. The support from the community is incredible and I absolutely love voting during the Sweet 16 critique arena.
I created a website too, but wasn’t quite ready for it so I took it offline for now. I’m avoiding all social media to focus on one thing, getting better.
Thanks again for a great podcast!
Rachel Horne last edited by
It's funny to hear the other areas where people are being asked to work for free. I'm English, living in France and since I also speak French, I am constantly being asked by friends and also vague acquaintances to translate all manner of things for free! Sometimes it's ok but I don't think people always realise the effort behind these things.
Mr.Kite last edited by
On Harry Potter illustrations, Jim Kay is doing the most amazing illustrated versions of HP books in the UK. Basically a picture book with words crazy stuff definitely check it out.
Very energetic guy, great lecture where he talks about his process, finding textures---> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDPcGdt40RU
Always in awe with the art heritage surrounding HP, Star Wars, LOTR...
Congrats on the Kickstarter Will!
Jane Smith 0 last edited by
@Deborah-Cantlon-Lambson Haha! You are not alone! They're great to have on while you're inking or sketching. Lovely to hear the banter between them all and always good, real-world advice.
Spencer Hale last edited by
Great Episode. I particularly connected to the 1st item. I could do much better at keeping up with my clients.
@Geoffrey-Gordon As a fellow web designer/developer, I second this! every. single. point.