By Armand Cabrera
Starting a business as an artist or illustrator is a huge leap of faith for most people. I used to joke with my family that at least I didn’t want to be a professional poet which was the only other profession that you have even less chance of making your sole income from than being an artist.
Respect the process and yourself. Whatever it is you choose to do, treat it with reverence. I don’t kid around about my art, I treat it seriously. I am never afraid to turn down work that I think is beneath me or I think would demean my skills. I try not to be rude when asked to do something silly because I am an artist, but I really don’t need to paint signs for lemonade stands in the neighborhood anymore.
When I started and I would get turned down for a job I would ask why and if I was lucky enough to get an honest answer I never ignored the advice given. Especially if it had to do with improving my skills so I could get professional work.
I have turned down questionable jobs because on top of everything else they wouldn’t sign a contract. Contracts not only protect you but also your clients. In my experience the only people who don’t want to sign a mutually agreed to contract are people who plan to break them anyway or have some hidden agenda that they don’t want to reveal.
If you take a job, do your best work possible. One of the bad things about lowballing jobs is it creates an atmosphere of doing things just good enough. I make sure that if I agree to a price for a job I get paid well enough to do my best work. If you aren’t going to do your best don’t take the work at all.
Reward yourself for a job well done. One of the things I learned was to pay myself first. Give myself a little treat when I finished a job just to make the parts of it that weren’t fun worthwhile. In really slow times that might not be buying something, it may be just a day off to sit around and read. Rewarding yourself for a job well done is important, especially as a contractor when a lot of the time the only compliment is the check.