Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Early New Year's Resolutions

Sigh. Welp, I’ve done it again – I have a very bad habit of biting on more work than I can feasibly chew, which leads to getting stressed out, not enough sleep, making myself sick, and in the long run producing less and inferior work because of it all.  Obviously, this is rather stupid on my part; I seem to get into it every couple years, though the event of getting married last year admittedly has made this time a completely new situation to learn.

At least I’ve got one thing regularly updating, my Cats Talking Words comic:

…Because I have a backlog that I’d built up over the past couple years.  I actually took my update schedule down from Monday-Wednesday-Friday to just Monday-Wednesday, because I don’t want to use up my whole backlog and fall behind on that too (like I need another thing to stress about. Har).

I have come up with a hopeful solution for this issue, to try and get my full-time job, life and freelance work back in balance.  Admittedly a LOT of it depends on my own hard-assing abilities, which are meager at best. My resolution is to, in 2014, not take on any new clients unless the jobs pertain to visual storytelling (comics, illustration or storyboarding); and unless I have met the clients personally.  And I will not take on any work, even paid, out of pity for the customer in question (usually because they need something in a rush, which is most often a recipe for disaster).  I have already made the resolution to not take on any more logo or general design jobs, excluding anything pertaining to music. My reasoning:
  • I have a fairly good list of past clientele for a single artist, and any projects that they come up with for me in 2014 will be more than enough (hopefully they don’t all come up with something at once). 
  • What I WANT to work on is visual storytelling. If I get an offer for illustration, comics, etc. from a new client that piques my interest enough, I MIGHT take it - based on availability.
  • The rule of meeting new clients in person helps me to gauge their commitment to the project (had too many past clients who turned out to be less committed than me).
  • I have made myself miserable working with bad clients on design projects that I don’t give a flying flip about, and would like at least a temporary reprieve. I need to work on things that I can actually show later as an example of my visual storytelling skills.
  • I MUST have time to actually work on one of my own projects, which has sat dormant as a complete script for nearly two years and is driving me mad.
  • The exception of allowing music-related design work is because: I love music. Musicians tend to have more knowledge about visual art/design, and are fun to work with. Design for music-related things often includes use of my drawing abilities. And, a lot of my former clients are musicians.
Obviously, the rub here often comes down to my ability (bad, but getting better) to say no.  I don’t disparage myself for being a nice person, but in this regard I am entirely TOO NICE.  Taking jobs out of “pity”, because I am the sole “artist friend” and the job is paid needs to stop.   My rule used to be “only paid work” to weed out volunteering, which worked for awhile, but even that wasn’t a narrow enough rule.  Even if it’s paid, it isn’t worth the time if the work isn’t a representation of what I want to do in the future, and ruins my evenings and weekends with bad stress in the meanwhile. (Also, the last-minute design-only clients have tended to be the most clueless and difficult to work with).

I need to be MUCH more frugal with allotting my time, as I am exceptionally bad at gauging how long some projects could possibly take.  There is a lot working against me, including (a lot of) defects in myself, but I really REALLY want 2014 to be better than 2013.  I will endeavor to do this, and make my artistic career balance better with my full-time job and home/hippie/husband duties. (ALLITERATION, TA!)

IN CONCLUSION and ALSO: I MUST have time to draw from my own imagination, work on my own projects, and MUST have time to go out and draw from life, or my skill lapses and suffers for want of practice.  I have little to no time for any of these things now, and my freelance work suffers, as well as my mental calm.  And it causes everything else to SUCK.

I am sorry for this ramble, but really… I just needed to get these thoughts down in writing, both to remind myself of my decision, and to remind myself of how miserable I’m getting now, and that in order to keep myself out of this state I need to be much more strict with allowing work to encroach on the little free time I have.  And so, another cycle of work-life-learn begins.

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