The Januariest January; Finding Motivation in Lockdown

Sorry that it’s been so long! I don’t think I have posted a single blog piece so far in 2021. But I’m back now baby! Today I’m going to chat about climbing the big ole mountain of 2021. 

The Arduous start to a Perilous Ascent

OK so I am being dramatic but you know what? I FEEL dramatic. 2020 had such a negative cultural identity and so much was pinned on 2021. But the truth is I have been more scared of 2021 myself. January is always a bit miserable. This is the first January since the pandemic. The first in lockdown. The first since brexshit. For me it is the first where my art income was my only income in a notoriously quiet month. January 2021 has been one scary dot on my horizon and now it’s here. 

I KNOW things will get better. I KNOW that there are barriers we had in 2020 that we will overcome. But it’s been a hard start to the year because things are still hard. Except they are harder now and it’s freezing bloody cold! Between navigating the implications of brexit, working out where my income will come from this month, hospital trips and a general feeling of malaise; blogs were the last thing on my mind. Feeling creative was a struggle. I couldn’t help but feel that hibernating would have been a good choice this winter (and at very least would have saved me from the horrorshows on the news).

A Solo Expedition

The reason I am writing this slightly whiney blog (it’ll turn positive I promise) is that motivating yourself when you are self employed is a big issue for all freelancers at some point. On one hand it is great to be able to give yourself that breathing space when you need it. Especially when you have a creative job that demands new and original ideas from you constantly. I have my best ideas when I am not working. When I give myself a break. When my brain isn’t trying to focus on something right in front of me.

Giving myself space and working on my own schedule is generally positive. But everyone needs a kick up the backside every now and again, right? Especially after a gloomy start to a new year. When you are self employed, who wears that boot? It can be too easy to slip into a bit of a rut.

So how do you cope? Are you hard on yourself? Do you promise yourself a treat at the end? Carrot or stick? I took a slightly risky decision this January, I indulged myself. I let myself have a break. My days began with too many lie ins, I ate Mcdonalds, I bought some fun new notebooks as a cheer up treat. I treated myself kindly and I didnt blame myself for just not feeling up to much. I did this because I know that I can only stomach so much wallowing. If I give myself a little bit of it I quickly become sick of it. When I am sick of it I jump up and I want to work. I have drive and energy. Plus in that little gap between wallowing and jumping back on the saddle… I get loads of new ideas!

Importantly though I am really passionate about my business succeeding. Of course I don’t want to burnout, but I also really want to work! I knew January was always going to be stressful so I made the important decision to budget carefully in 2020 so that my business can withstand a quiet winter. I built the infrastructure to have the time off if I needed it. I’ve had a break but I’ve never missed a deadline. In this game, foresight is everything.

The View from the Summit

You may have noticed that I am back writing my blog. This was the last piece in the puzzle of restarting my business again. I am on top of my emails, I am on top of my workload, I am working on new projects and I have been creating Illustrated Ghost Story videos for the new year. Despite having more relaxed attitude to work  I have kept my shop running all winter and posted out all of my orders quickly.

I’ve now got a new lease for life again. I’ve taken on a quiet month by scheduling a shop update of a number of brand new products. I have taken the initiative to make my own opportunities. I’ve scouted out potential opportunities for the rest of the year. I’ve looked at different modes and opportunities for funding. Best of all I can see the end in sight and the points of the year to look forward too. There are exciting dates in my diary again. I have work scheduled to be released into the world, finally! 

What else will 2021 have in store? I don’t know. I am going to focus on my plans for the year. Next up I am going to set some new goals.  Goals that I would love to share with you guys when I am done. I’m sorry I was away from here for so long, but it’s really nice to be back 😀

I’m Officially a Full Time Artist and Oh Boy is it Scary!

So I’ve known this was coming for a while. Covid was never very friendly for an Events organiser. I had only been working 3 days a week in my other job too. My illustration business has been growing over the last two and a half years I have been running it. I have worked on some amazing opportunities and it really has been brilliant. Don’t get me wrong, the chance to do it full time is excellent. The chance to have been able to work on it full time under the furlough scheme of my other job for a few months was a gift too. An opportunity I could never have imagined before. 

This blog is just about how scary it is! In general and in the current climate. My part time job ended officially one week ago. Even though I have been working on my business over lockdown, it has felt different since then. The feeling of “this is it kid, we’re on our own”.

The fact it is quiet sleepy August exacerbates this I think. Traditionally August would be a painting month for me. When the weather is nice it is a great time for painting murals. I would usually have a few sculptures on display and get the joy of seeing them tagged on social media. Even visiting a few. Covid has postponed all the arts trails. There are a few mural projects that are on hiatus. A few applications I have in that aren’t being reviewed until 2021. A part of my business has stopped completely, at a quiet retail time of year and it’s all at the time I have gone full time. Gulp!

We’re on Our Own Kid

There’s also now the pressure to ’do it properly’. I guess that’s tied into the ‘imposter syndrome’. There’s no reason for me to think I am not doing properly already. The stakes are just higher now. Change is big and change is scary. That’s coming from me, a person who thrives on change! It’s just, you know, a BIG change! 

I guess the other side is that I am conscious that a lot of other people are in the same boat as me. A whole wave of freelancers are coming at a time when it’s likely many opportunities will drop. I am hopeful that there is enough arts funding out there to support the industry. Also I am hopeful that industries that are thriving do their best to support freelance and independent business. I am hopeful that I love what I do enough to battle through.

There’s a misconception that artist’s work is not of as higher value as others because their reward is that they love what they do. The love an artist has for their work is what powers them to work crazy hours, pour their heart and soul into their business. It is certainly not something to undervalue them on. It’s precisely the secret ingredient that adds quality and value to what they do.

The Future

I guess that even though I am stressed and frightened about it all now there are things I can do to fix it. This is the best time to sit down and look at what I am doing, what opportunities there are, What I can do better. Am I charging enough? Have I got a good business plan? Everything I need to do to take my business to the next level. It’s scary because I care. Because I care I can build this thing as big as it can go. 

To everyone else in a similar position I wish you all the luck that’s out there. I know that like me you can use your love for your art to bolster your business. And If you ever want to chat, you know where to find me!

A Completely Terrifying Announcement

I am officially about to become a full time artist! The concept is equally terrifying and exhilarating. It’s safe to say I never pictured a pandemic being the reason though! Unfortunately my employer has been hard hit through these last months. I have balanced part time employment and my art career over the last two years since I started illustrating. I have always been open about the fact I probably haven’t balanced it particularly well though. 

A New World

For the last 12 years I have been a fundraiser. Whether that’s been working with corporates, individuals, data or administrating I have been fundraising. I honed my career to specialise in Fundraising Events. It was my favourite aspect of fundraising. I always enjoyed how creative you could be in organisations events and the payoff in seeing it come together. The reality though is that there is no role for large scale events in society currently, and these were my specialism. 

The job of generating income for charity whilst ensuring visitors got a great experience for their money has always been a tough job. Throw in social distancing to the mix and it’s just downright impossible for so many organisers with ambitious targets to hit. With my employer in trouble, my role impractical and my business weathering lockdown as well as could be hoped, making the leap was the only thing that seemed to make sense.

Not A Hobby

It has been a while since I would have classed my artwork as a hobby. I work too damn hard and it is far too busy for it to be so. No one does tax returns and finances and marketing as a hobby! I have treated my arts job professionally since I started illustrating. It is a huge leap for it to be full time though. The timing is so unnatural because of the pandemic but I am optimistic that it is the right decision. I am not a fool. It is going to take a lot of blood, sweat and tears to make it so. I need support from others and to self promote like there is no tomorrow, No matter how daunting it seems. I can throw myself into it fully and hopefully build something beautiful.

Nervous Nancy

There is lots to be nervous about though. From guiding a business through an impending recession to the intimidating prospect of working alone. I’ve lots to learn too, that’s for sure! I am just going to try my best to make this thing work.

And on that note…

If you need an illustrator, please remember me! I do painting, digital work and fine drawing. I even do ceramics and the odd bit of animation Such as gifs and AR assets. Whether your company needs merchandise or a poster designed or you are looking for a print for your home or a bespoke gift for a loved one. Or even if you or your workplace want a great big mural painting too. Remember your friendly local artists Sian and don’t hesitate to get in touch for a chat. Even just through reading this blog I appreciate you spending your time to support me and gain a little insight into this bonkers new adventure of mine. If you want an even more in depth look into my process, works and sneak peeks my Patreon has that too, just check out for more details!