Shop Talk

Tips on How to Succeed as a Freelance Artist

Have you ever considered having your very own freelance career? Of course, you have! We want to help, so we’ve invited some of our Redbubble artist community to share experiences and advice.

Check out what Gaia Marfurt and Daisy-Beatrice have to say on building a successful freelance career.

Lucky Girl

Happy Yoga

Stay Focused

Gaia Marfurt was born in Rome and currently residing in Italy with her husband and four small children, Gaia recalls creating fantasy stories, playing with dolls, and performing with her youngest sister as a child.  After graduating from the European Design Institute of Rome she began working for many Italian children magazines as a comic and illustrator and her freelance career was off.

Gaia Marfurt: The most difficult thing about being a freelance artist is to be constant in your work. When you have a job in an office, you have to go there every day and work for 6 to 8 hours. When you are a freelance artist possibly working from home, sometimes with children and a house needing you, it’s too easy to get lost in the everyday things to do for your family.
You begin projects and you leave them to die because you seem not to find any time for them. Then you feel guilty because you’re not able to be a professional artist and a good mum.

“Be constant. Try to do something, just a little, but every day.” -Gaia Marfurt

Gaia’s Tips:

-Take a long breath, relax, keep calm and try to progress through little steps.

-Be constant. Try to do something, just a little, but every day.

-Working together is better. I recommend joining an Artists Community where you can give and get advice because sharing will make you feel much better!

-I find weekly challenges and contests very stimulating. I used to enter a design every week on the Spoonflower weekly challenges.

-Look for interesting courses online. Lilla Rogers Studio creates really good courses, but there are many others on the web. Many of my designer friends found the Make it in design courses useful, especially if you want to improve your Portfolio.

-The next step will be to try to contact companies interested in your work. Do some good online research. You don’t need to submit your works everywhere, but learn to recognize which companies can appreciate your style.

I wish you good luck and don’t forget to work hard but always in a happy mood! :D

Retro Blossom

My Dear

Gone Troppo – Orange and Aqua

Australian artist Daisy-Beatrice’s freelance career began a few years ago. In addition to adding her work to print-on-demand sites, she has taken her charming illustrations to the Stock Image Market and also accepts commissions from companies looking for that perfect unique design.

Daisy-Beatrice: ‘Art is Work.’ This simple quote from iconic New York designer Milton Glaser has shaped the way I operate as a freelance illustrator. My first takeaway from this quote is that if you want your art to sustain you financially, you need to treat it like work.

It’s the best feeling in the world to wake up knowing you’ll be creating art all day in the comfort of your own home. But to make it work financially, you have to be disciplined with your time, limit interruptions during work hours, and think like a business person as well as an artist.

“Whatever it is that makes you ‘you’ – pour that into your work so that people can see your heart and feel like they know you.” -Daisy-Beatrice

Milton Glaser also makes the point that historically, art was always created for a purpose, and generally for money. Which brings me to my second major takeaway from this quote: never, ever, ever, ever work for free or give your work away. Artists just starting out often fall for the trick of doing work for free in exchange for some vague promise that ‘we’ll recommend you, you’re bound to get more work out of this.’ News flash – it never happens. All that happens is that you reinforce the widely held notion that original art has no value, and artists should work for free (or a coffee or whatever). When people ask me to work for free, I say something like ‘Sure, and you’ll fix my car for free, OK?’ No-one ever accepts my ‘deals’, and they don’t ask again. :)

My final tip for freelancers just starting out is to think about what you bring to the market that is unique to you. Work out what you can inject into your art that sets it apart, and makes it covetable and instantly recognisable as yours. Do you have a sneaky sense of humor? Can you create mood-altering color palettes? Can you streamline and simplify like a boss? Whatever it is that makes you ‘you’ – pour that into your work so that people can see your heart and feel like they know you.

And have fun! And don’t stay in your PJs all day. And don’t drink too much coffee just because the kitchen is right there. :)

Did you find these tips helpful? What tips have been key to your own success? Share in the comments below.

View additional posts by Jen Durant

Jen Durant

Redbubble Artist Relationship Manager