The hardest thing about my job is repeatedly stepping into the moment of vulnerability that is unavoidable in any creative endeavour, the moment where I have to hold up something I've been putting my heart and soul into and ask my client / my colleagues / my friends / the world: "what do you think of this thing that I have made? Is it any good? Or am I in fact a talentless charlatan, as I have secretly suspected all along?" When I was younger I thought this process would get easier with time and success but it never seems to! So get used to it, folks.
Fred Deakin is an artist, designer, teacher, writer and musician
Time management is probably the most challenging aspect of being a busy illustrator. In addition to actually creating & delivering illustration commissions to deadline, I have to do all the other aspects of running the business, everything from replying to enquiries, quoting on jobs, negotiation, reading contracts, marketing, credit control, accounts and more. All these things take time to do & you have to keep on top of them. There's a lot more to being an illustrator than drawing pictures.
Rod Hunt is an award-winning illustrator and artist
The challenges are what make our jobs exciting and interesting, the fact that someone hires me to solve a problem and to find new ways to better communicate their brand is a challenge by itself. Over the years I've learned to enjoy and look forward to work on challenging and hard briefings instead of avoiding them and constantly work on my comfort zone, those are the kind of projects in which you're forced to push your limits and ultimately expand your boundaries, hard situations force you to learn new skills, to work out of your comfort zone and consequently make you a better creative and it's really satisfying to overcome and conquer them. So I would say that a challenging project is definitely the hardest thing about my job but that's not necessarily a negative thing, on the contrary.
João Oliveira is an art director, designer and illustrator
For me it's giving myself a break and savouring my downtime. I spend a lot of my time worrying that I've taken too much on and working long hours, then when it's quiet it feels like I'll never get another commission again! In the quiet time I know I should give myself a break but when I do I feel guilty that I'm not doing any work! The best method I've found to avoid the guilt is to get out of the house and away from my computer.
I've also found it's much easier to separate your work and home life is to have a separate studio. It's good being forced to spend some time travelling to clear your head. But my computer at home means my epic to-do list is never far away. I shouldn't moan – and I'm not really, honest! – but I am having to come to terms with the fact that things will probably always be either way too busy or too quiet. There's often no middle ground when it comes to freelancing!
Kerry Hyndman is an illustrator and map maker
The hardest part of my job always changes. Sometimes its juggling deadlines. Other times its sourcing new business, or the ongoing dialogue with clients between what they want (or expect) and what they actually need. I don't think I ever felt there is one recurring part of my job that is the hardest specifically. Personally speaking – and this has as much to do with my personal outlook on my job, is that I want to do as many different things as possible, from design comics to developing brand identities for tech startups to film campaigns or design for fashion – and keep "my voice" running consistently through those.
Tom Muller designs for culture, entertainment, technology — and the spaces in between
Words: Jim McCauley
Jim McCauley is a writer, editor and occasional podcaster, and is available for children's parties.
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