Report card on freelancing

Okay, so at the beginning of October, I left my job of 10 years to give freelance illustration and fine art a try. The Strong and Free(lance) series is my attempt to document what I can for myself and others wanting to do the same.

Here's a report card.

Creative 
I have been painting and sketching a lot, and still have a healthy list of self-driven projects to work on.  No boredom in the creative arena. Many days, I start painting, either with oils or ArtRage, lose track of time and forget to eat lunch. I tried setting a timer on my iPod, but I just turn it off and think "20 minutes more" and lose the afternoon.

 A number of people have asked about a Trilobite Boy comic or graphic novel. 
Anyone else want to see that? If there's interest in a story, it could be worth a try. 


Months back, I raised the idea of a book of my art with one-page or short science fiction stories by various writers. A couple of readers and peeps expressed interest in writing for it.  I'm not sure how to get it off the ground: pay two of you to write stories I can shop around? 
Grade: 
B+  Good ideas and quality. Needs to work on routine and output speed.
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Professional


New business cards.  New calendar for sale, as well as lots of new prints. New baby onesie.  I'm grateful for each one of these items sold, but I don't make a lot of money off of each print.  I keep it going because I really love when someone has my art on their wall.

Launched a couple of items on Etsy. I'll add more and announce.

Freelancing is a slow process.  I'm still sending out portfolios, and I've had a few nibbles, but nothing is past the contract stage.

Some of the artwork I created the last several weeks has generated more interest than many of my pieces have in the past, so that's really heartening.  I think if I was attempting to try freelance without the benefit of feedback on my blog and satellite social media, I would have folded up into a ball and given up by now.

So the biz side: I'm broke, but it's going as well as I should expect, I guess - there's not a lot of money in the science community or in publishing for new artists.  So I won't be able to afford to do this full-time.
Grade: D  Running and running to stay in place.  Is science-art marketable at a living wage?

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Family
It's been a big year of changes. My wife, a school teacher, switched schools. I earned my B.F.A.  We moved into a new apartment. I left my job.  We're expecting a healthy baby next month (who looks like Jack Skellington in the latest ultrasound photo).  Our nephew continues his awesomeness.
Grade: B  Needs to financially support family to get top marks.

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Attitude
Optimistic and excited by upcoming ideas, both in art and blog.
Financially, sometimes I wonder if I'd be better off painting half-naked amazon women.  Holding trilobites. 

I have plenty of moments of self-doubt and cursing myself for stupidity. A huge portion of the public has no idea what a trilobite is. Things have changed enough that most people expect to see cool images for free, all day long. The business model I have been hoping to see develop, is to put enough quality work on this blog, aimed at a scientifically literate audience, and maybe an institution or publisher will start to pay for new images.  It hasn't happened so far, which gets me down...

...and then I have a coffee, and remember that I can't understate how grateful I am for my fans and supporters. And I feel optimistic again.
Grade: C
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Needs to work on
-Finding a new job.
-Decide whether I keep going as I am right now, doing a bit of everything to cast a wide net in the job market (scientific illustration, comic-style stuff, more concept art, fine art) or settle into just one field which could reap greater commercial rewards. Lately, I've been thinking the latter.  I can't do it all: there's literally not enough hours in the day. I'm leaning toward book illustration and maybe a Trilobite Boy story of some kind.
Final Grade: C+


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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.


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