*The answer to question “where I wanna go” is usually “everywhere, except for maybe Afghanistan or Space”, but that’s not about that. This time it’s all about my illustration career (I turned 30 last year, so I think that word: career, as serious as it sounds, should be in my vocabulary).
I have two major love affairs in my life : first, uncomplicated with my husband Tytus and second, with my job, which is not that sweet and easy sometimes and makes me understand all those sad songs about broken heart etc. Yup, this really matters to me – that was my dream job and I put lots of afford in getting where I’m now (partly, because I didn’t know what I was doing at first and partly, because it’s very competitive industry).
So, where am I now?
If I finally make new business cards (I should), they will say “Monika Suska children’s illustrator” and that exactly what I do – I illustrate picture books for kids and educational materials.
It’s safe to say, that for nearly 2 years I have kind of constant work (and money 🙂 flow and aaaalmost forgot, how it was waiting for weeks and weeks to get any assignment, struggling to pay our bills and desperately looking for any possibility for earning money with my art. “Normal job” was never the option – during college years I was making and selling some hand made stuff like jewelery, toys, purses and teaching kids how to draw during private lessons. That was fun and I kinda miss both of those actually, but I also run my husband’s shop for about 2 months, when he had a knee surgery and tell you what, that was the worst time of my life! And it was additional motivation to succeed as an artist.
Anyways! Even though I feel, like hardest part is behind me.( and my life is really sweet at the moment – we’re location independent and traveling whenever we feel like doing it and I spend my “office hours” drawing cute animals, I do not feel like I can rest).
Not only I know, that there are millions (at least is feels that way, I’ve never been any good at math) of other illustrators around the word, better or as good as yours truly but more importantly I’d love to try new things and get my art to the next level. Sure, there are still lots of challenges in children’s publishing, amazing story to draw, pop up books, those fun novelty and board books, with stickers, toys etc. But I’ve seen my work printed on paper on a book store shelf already – now I’m dreaming about seeing it on products and packaging. You know: that must be amazing to see, say, tea or deodorant (or actually whatever – toilet paper will do as well) with my illustration on it in supermarket. Did I make any move to get myself a chance to win those kind of gigs? Well, not really. First, what I need is completely new portfolio, showing that I can arrange my work in a way suitable for each market (I believe I can, but potential client doesn’t need to be a clairvoyant, so as long as my portfolio not showing this clearly = I can’t). I signed up (twice! second one is still on) to Lilla Rogers Assignment Bootcamp, because I thought it will help me to build said portfolio. This is really great course, but what happened was that I got even more work and barely had time to complete one of challenges (not proud of this). This looks like this: I’m keep telling myself that I’ll start working on those illustrations of new type as soon as I’ll have less work, close most of projects, but it’s just not happening. I mean, I’m closing some projects from time to time ;), but new come up and maybe this state could last for years, if it wasn’t for one thing – I got myself an agent! Did I want one? Sure, who doesn’t? (yeah I know people with control issue for instance, but believe me or not, I’m not one of them) Was I looking for one? Not really – again my plan was to build new body of work first and then submit to illustrations agencies. That was mixture of accident and spontaneous decision that I wrote to Astound Us when they posted ad in Print and Pattern job board that they are looking for artists to represent. I didn’t even mean to visit this page, I have enough work right now as it is. Frankly, my intention was to checked Proud Italian Cook (cool blog btw.) during my apple break, typed “p” in my url box and then click on wrong(or as it appeared right) one. I have no idea why I decided to contact them. My site is under construction, so I just sent few jpgs with very(very!) short message and got back to my business. That’s a fairly new agency, but they represent such a impressive bunch of great illustrators, so fact that they wrote me back very next day with contract attached was a surprise. No kidding! WOW! WOW! WOW! That was only thing what I could say at first. But soon enough, other thoughts came to me and excitement turned into slight panic and anxiety. Here I have awesome agency, which is not only into publishing, but also licensing business, willing to represent me and take my work out there in a way I’m not able to do it myself and I have so little quality work to show, and also so little time to make new work. WHAT NOW??? AAAAAAAAA! Such a chance for me! I don’t want to blow it! I really, really don’t!
But I also have my obligations to clients I signed contracts with earlier and that’s important as well, so if I want to build something new, it must be during “off hours” and this is tricky, because at the moment I feel like I work non stop. I don’t think that I have a lot of choice here, but get my act together even more, mobilize all my forces, organize and discipline myself better. Safe to say, I am desperate to accomplished my goals and as everyone knows : “desperate times call for desperate measures” (maybe this should be title of my blog, too late though ;). That’s why I started this blog – as a motivational tool, to see progress and to kind of sort my “issues” out. If it can help someone too that’s great. I’ll be posting my strategies, ways to make some extra time, new illustrations of course and some helpful resources and stories from illustrator’s life. Hopefully more of a romantic comedy than drama/horror movie.
My main objectives are to:
1) re-build my portfolio for children’s books.
2) build nearly from scratch my licensing portfolio – samples, but ready collections as well.
3) reinforce my passive income streams, as extra money in my bank account for sure makes me more relaxed and prevents me from failing into short term occasions vs long term goals trap. Beside that – yes, I wanna be a great illustrator, making cool projects and grow as an artist, but I will make this clear – yes, I do wanna make a good money, not sufficient, not decent – good or even awesome as a matter of fact. There’s no reason I should hide my intentions, is there? Nor, that these two goals must be in a conflict with each other.
4) and obviously: don’t let any of my awesome clients down, because of first 3 points.
That’s tons and tons of work and that makes me shaky and terrified, but yeah, excited too, like I want to conquer the world, but at the same time hide under the blankie with huge serving of lasagne (which, not to brag, I make excellent) and watch Dr Who with Matt Smith (you know, ultimate comfort zone:) – this is exactly what I meant, when wrote that I have complicated love affair with my work.
Please, keep your finger crossed for me at least for a minute a day 🙂