One of our artists Nic Farrell shares a small insight into her world of freelance illustrating and how to survive.
I am a freelance illustrator by day and arts cinema employee by night (or sometimes the other way round, just to mix things up a bit). Since graduating last year I have worked for a few different clients, such as Dorling Kindersley, Rare and Tigerprint, who design all Marks & Spencer's greeting cards. During the day I work on any ongoing projects and commissions, and also design and print my own greetings cards and prints - which is my favourite bit.
You have to be quite content with sitting in front of the computer on your own for long periods of time, so plan your time wisely - if you have a dog, take it for lots of walks! Or visit a library to do research, instead of online. I like to go to cafes and do some observational drawing every now and then, just to keep my hand in. It's good to always keep an eye out for places that you think could stock your work - and if they do want to, it's a good learning curve getting to know what commission different shops and galleries demand, what their rules are, which of your pieces sells best, etc. And of course there's always Etsy! Many companies run competitions with the chance of a placement or your card design being printed and sold, for example.
The key is a beady eye and perseverance! Surviving without having a 'normal' job would be impossible for me at the moment, but by increasing your contacts and showing your work to literally anyone who'll look at it, it starts to become a possibility for the near future.
As Nic says, networking really is important in the world of art. I'd say being an illustrator/artist full time means 90% networking and 10% work. It probably would also help to have a 'normal' job to keep yourself grounded and keep a structured and hopefully productive day.
We know that it wont be long before Nic is a full time illustrator - the above card is among our most popular and sold it within a few weeks!