How I Stay Positive as a Freelance Illustrator

One of the things that I have struggled with a lot in the past is staying positive, especially when it’s regarding what I do. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m pretty much always positive, but it’s definitely hard to stay in that mindset, and once I’m out of it I can spiral downwards very quickly if I’m not careful. However staying in such a positive mindset is probably one of the most important things you can do for yourself and life in general.

You’re not alone.

I think the most common way we fall into the trap of negative thoughts these days is by consuming social media, we compare ourselves to others on it, we get distracted by it, the list of self destructive behaviours it enables is endless. If you’re a creative, it’s easy to be consumed by self doubt and begin to think about how lonely it can be and how maybe just giving it all up would be easier. However, I highly recommend you watch this video by artist Stan Prokopenko, where he interviews a number of professional artists asking them what they think the hardest thing is about being a pro. You’ll soon realise that even pros have the exact same problems and worries about an artist who’s just starting out.

Personal Projects

I know everyone is probably fed up of me going on about personal projects, but they really are the best outlet for you to have the creative freedom that you need to stay creatively fulfilled, especially when client projects aren’t doing that for you. Even if it’s just a really small project that might take a few hours or a project which forces you to learn something new, it’s a really satisfying feeling just getting something finished and crossing something else off of your list.

Always try to have fun with your personal projects and don’t get too intense about them. The fact you’ve had fun with it will show in the end result and you’ll be happier throughout the process.

Support Network

First and foremost I am very lucky to have the best followers, all of my followers are absolutely lovely, and there are definitely a decent number of them that I would call my genuine friends. Currently my following is quite small, which I really enjoy because I feel like I have a personal connection with them. They are there to congratulate me or compliment me when I’ve done something that they like, but they’re also there to send me a DM when they know I’m not myself, which I’m so thankful for.

I also have an awesome girlfriend who completely backs everything I do, she does nothing but lift me up and encourages me to do anything that I’ve ever wanted to, she’s my biggest fan and I absolutely love it. I feel incredibly lucky to have a partner that does understand what I do and how it can be quite stressful sometimes as I have a lot of people in my life that don’t get that. I also have a very supportive best friend who has always had my back and knocked some sense back into me when the self doubt or people’s negative comments have gotten the better of me.

I know that this element might not seem like something you can control in your life, especially if those close to you aren’t supportive, but pushing them out of your life isn’t an option because of who they are, ( trust me, I have those people too )The best thing to do is not take what they say to heart and keep in mind that they just don’t have the same mindset as you, and then work on filling your life with more people that do!

It’s all on me

Overall, I know that I have control over my happiness and I have control over how I react to what happens to me. I have been through my fair share of lows in life but I know that the only person who suffers when I don't react in a positive way to those events is me, no matter who or what caused them. Being self employed can be super stressful, but it’s important to remember that you do have the ability to be more flexible than most, you can work on your own projects and you can take a day off when you need to, or a week, or even just an afternoon when you need to reset, and you shouldn’t feel guilty about that.

Not comparing yourself to others is also really helpful (although difficult, but you can put measures in place to make it simpler to avoid) and makes it easier to stay positive. After all, you only see the positives of someone else’s life and you never really see the beginning either, you only see what they want you to see.  Everyone’s situation is completely different and sometimes you’re comparing yourself to someone who’s life you’d never want to live anyway, you just want their level of success, but you’ll achieve your own level of success if you only focus on yourself.

As always, I hope that this helped and it would be awesome to talk more about this to anyone who needs me to go into more depth. Feel free to get in touch through my website or social media!