One positive awesome thing out of pursuing a freelance creative career

The other day I was pottering about my email inbox when I noticed I’d received an email from Alex Mathers over at the Red Lemon Club and if you haven’t heard of it, the Red Lemon Club  is a place of great illustration and creative industry tips and advice written by Alex himself (or Ape On The Moon) so be sure to check it out.

Anyway back to the point. In his email, he asked the reader to “Tell me one positive, awesome thing about what you’ve experienced so far working for yourself.” and so I did. I put together my little blog-posty like email and popped it on over to him. Despite the many emails alex has no doubt received I wanted to send mine along and here is what I wrote ;


Hello there Red Lemon Club or Alex  🙂 ,

My name’s Kate Leonard and I’m an inky illustrator based all the way in Staffordshire Uk, I started out my creative journey to be a freelance illustrator in 2013, as well as, a creative blog writer. So primarily I offer a service through my little creative business. Though at the moment, I am still quite small. Starting out on my creative journey was both a terribly scary and exciting venture. The prospect of going freelance self-employed and not quite knowing where my journey may lead or the stability  I might find, was again, one of those factors that either makes you stand by your passion or give it all in. However, I’m not one to give up so easily, so I went for it.

I’ve been running just under 12 months now. And to answer your question of “ one positive, awesome thing about what you’ve experienced so far working for yourself.” I’d have to say that being in the driving seat of where my business is going is the most positive experience I’ve come across during my creative venture. I am in control of which path I take, and the decisions I make. As in the past, like many, I’ve come across dictator’s and discouragement at pursuing art as a career. Being in control of my career is refreshing without feeling I have anything limiting me or holding me back at all. The decisions I’ve made so far have enabled me to meet many talented creative people, sprouted future collaborative projects, acquired funding for my start-up business, develop my skills, build a blog reader community, found mentoring relationships and grown some portfolio illustration projects.
Though being self-employed isn’t peachy, I won’t lie. It’s easy to look at a successful illustrator and admire all their achievements, but failing to realise they went through the early struggles and obstacles like I’m experiencing myself. For me, the financial instability has been one big obstacle (I am far from rolling in it I have my ” cinderella job” during the day in which no one understand’s my passion and I’m an illustrator/ writer by night ). My second struggle was the amount of time / committment you need to put into the business. Though it can really take it out of you, I keep telling myself it will definitely be worthwhile.
Untitled-2 @ 100% (Layer 2, RGB8)  22022014 110646.bmp
If any aspiring freelancer can truly see the heart of their business and the talent they have yet to share I don’t think they should let anything stop them from achieving all aspirations and dreams they may have inside. Yes, it’s scary. A lot of changes in life are, but if I hadn’t of taken the steps I did this time last year and had settled for a career I didn’t love to do every day, I would have felt I’d seriously let myself , my talent , family and dreams down.
My passion is in my illustrating and writing. I illustrate my passion and blog about it to then share inspirations with like-minded people who read it and build relationships with them to also learn their stories. I truly want to improve my business and have a list of dream clients I’m scared to approach. I can do big amazing things , I’m sure of it, but I’m just sometimes unsure how to get there and may require a positive boot up the butt along the way.
1-inky cuckoo sepia colour version
You can find out more about my inky doodles at my website and blog I’m also a blogger for the Illustration Friday blog, which keeps me busy aswell. Anyway, thank you for all the inspiring and advice filled articles Alex. I hope this little email just so happens to help yours.
Many thanks and appreciation from an inky illustrator,
Kate Leonard
So the question is what’s your positive to being your own boss ? 🙂 or what will be a positive when you take that leap?



14 thoughts on “One positive awesome thing out of pursuing a freelance creative career

  1. I’m really in awe of your illustrations. They are stunningly beautiful. I wish I felt I could take that leap into freelance illustration as well so thank you for sharing your story. It’s really inspiring and I like that you didn’t gloss it over.

    1. Hey mary 🙂 thanks for taking the time to get in touch with me. I think to be honest if you’re passionate enough about your art and illustration whether you’re able to do it full time or not you still find time to draw or put up blog posts about it which is admirable in itself :).

      As for my story I always want to be down to earth so glossing things over to appear peachy really wouldn’t be true to myself or my creative business :). At the end of the day its hard yes but I feel more at ease and happier in myself that despite ” instant success” isn’t how it works and thing’s do take time and effort it’s much more rewarding than being stuck in a job I don’t really feel a passion for and leaving my talent to gather dust.

      I believe this to be true for many talented people , you just have to find your niche, put in the effort and believe in yourself. kate xx

      1. Thanks Kate! You don’t know how much I needed to hear (read) that. And I checked out your shop, btw (I bought a canvas bag with your print on it). Salon 6 is just a really fantastic site for artists in general. I may have to give it a try soon.

      2. You just have to look at the little achievements you make , its so easy to overlook the efforts you’ve made because your success doesn’t quite compare to say for example nothing creative you admire. Your success is your own and unique to you 🙂 .

        Also thank you so much ! I’ve been in such a rut myself lately wondering what to do with society 6 , its a great site to make mock up’s with your designs so I’d definitely try it! I’m just trying to refine my own inky niche for illustration currently myself 🙂 . How’s your work coming along? Still posting your inky napkin doodles I see 🙂 x kate

  2. Society 6 seems worth a try. I’m impressed with your set up there.
    As for me, I switched to photography for a little while (I took a class) so it was difficult to really get into a good zone for drawing but I did it anyway to keep my hand in it. I’m back to my inky doodles.
    A waitress/art student acquaintance of mine said she uses a free site called Deviant Art: You might want to give it a look. I may have to try putting my inky doodles down on other surfaces and see what I can do with them there. I have a month off before the school year starts so I guess I should really work on something while I have the time. Thanks for the advice with Society 6. I may take it. xMary

    1. That’s good to hear you’re back to it 🙂 , I used to use deviantart myself and started out there when I was just turned 16 ( though back then my art was nothing like it is now more manga and anime than inky florals and woodland critters 🙂 its funny how creatively we change).

      My challenge I’m finding is where my illustrations sit best, I don’t really see myself as wanting to be a jack of all trades but more a master of one however which ” one” that is I’m currently trying to figure out ( which is a bit like reading a map upside down haha).

      I took a month break from creative stuff due to a house flood so as you can imagine my studio got kinda soggy 😦 . Although I’m trying to constantly think of ways to keep my blog up to date and fun so any suggestions really on what might be cool to see would be appreciated, who knows maybe I can help you to along the way just give me a message and I’ll help if I can x kate x

      1. I’m so sorry about your house flood. My photography professor lost all her work of 20 years due to a house fire. She said that she just has to constantly move forward and let the past works go. That’s a real tough one. I hope you didn’t lose too much though.
        I’m new to blogging but I know I like to read about the artist’s process and inspiration behind his/her designs. I notice that the most successful artists (not necessarily the best artwork) tend to make a documentary of themselves and their work. Nowadays, everyone seems to have a YouTube channel. Many people on wordpress seem to be involved in creating competitions too. It all seems like a tremendous amount of time to create these things along with creating your own work, blogging, and managing an online store.

  3. Hi Kate, thanks for sharing your creative journey again. As you probably realise, I’m quite a bit ‘longer in the tooth’ than you and only took up my art again in middle age after raising a family and having a variety of jobs. Apart for going back to college to do an Art & design ‘A’ level, I am entirely self taught or in other words have learned the hard way! It’s taken me years to find out what my strongest skills are and which my preferred media are – so I think you are doing really well to realise that honing your skills and taking time to develop your own personal signature style is the way to go! I’ve wasted a lot of time trying to master many media and forms of expression and I’ve come full circle back to my first love, drawing. One thing I have learned though is that getting down and ‘doing’ is worth a whole heap of reading, researching and comparing myself to others!
    I have every faith in you Kate that you have the drive to succeed x.

    1. Eleanor that was just what I needed thank you 🙂 your absolutely right “doing” more as I’m guilty for thinking far to much into things to which leads to never getting then done.

      I believe anyone can succeed creatively if they believe in themselves, regardless whether you’re self taught or have studied years of education you can do it if you have the heart and put in the effort. 🙂 I don’t intend on giving up at all so I hope like you said eleanor I’ll drive to succeed. x kate

  4. Hi Kate! This was so lovely to read, I find your honesty really inspiring. It really shines through how passionate about your work you are, and how committed you are to it despite the very real need to have another job. I’m sure this is something many creative people deal with, but for me personally to read this as I too am just starting out, it brought some hope and reassurance that pursuing illustration primarily because you LOVE what you do, is the most important thing. I think my positive of being my own boss is being in control of my day schedule. It’s so satisfying to know I can sit down and really get things done, but also a great relief that if I want to I can take a break and go on a walk or meditate, or go shopping, and give myself some space. Thank you for this inspiring post. Keep up the amazing work 🙂 xx

    1. Hey hannah x Sorry it took my a little time to get back to you, I’m really touched you found my post so inspiring. This kind of career path was never going to be easy but I don’t think you realise just how trying it can be until you’re fully immersed in it and know that it all relys on you and your efforts.

      I also love scheduling my own day thats got to be one of the positives about being freelance, I sometimes find it hard to just draw or write on the spot so being in the position I’m in lets me potter off for a walk with my dog or afew minutes of yoga 🙂 whilst grabbing a green tea from the kitchen x

      Can’t wait to see your creative story unfold to x kate 🙂

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