Back in September, I wrote a post titled "Confessions of a Novice Freelancer". I was just three months into a new phase of my art career - a phase where I needed to sell my art in order to make money (crazy how that works, huh?)
In a very short time, I learned A LOT.
Now, a few more months have passed, and I thought it was time to share some of the lessons I've been learning since then. The last post was focused on the basics of doing work: scheduling, saying yes to things, setting boundaries, etc.
This post addresses some things I didn't expect to pop up, but have...
1. ) Don't compare yourself to others
This is something that I did not expect would affect me so much. Before I embarked upon this freelancing/full time artist gig, I looked at other's work and felt inspired. I loved stumbling upon a new artist and falling in love with their work and style. I'd blog about them, pin their work on a Pinterest board, and share their work with my students.
At some point along the way, this shifted in my heart. I would look at artists who I viewed as successful, and suddenly I was feeling inferior. I felt like I should be at that level. Self doubt and insecurities would pour over me and stupid thoughts such as, "Why am I not selling as much as they are? Why isn't my work being feature by top bloggers? How come my etsy sales aren't happening as fast?"
Needless to say, this was draining.
I have to keep reminding myself not only that I have only been doing this less than a year, but also that we all have our own paths. And more importantly, God has a path for my art. I don't need to try to live up to what others are doing - I just need to work hard for the Lord, commit my work to Him, and enjoy what I'm doing/making.
If I never "make it" as far as I'd like to (sell a million things, get super popular on etsy, have my work on a cool product in Anthropologie, etc) that doesn't mean I'm not succeeding.
I need to stop trying to be what other artists out there "seem to be" in my eyes and just follow my own path. I just started this gig after all...
2.) Mistakes will happen
What?! You mean to tell me I'm not capapble of perfection? That's absurd.
Honestly, that's what I expect from myself, which of course is a good quality in many aspects. I strive to do each piece (whether it be an envelope, custom sign, invitation, painting..whatever) and make it the best ever. If I wasn't striving for each thing to be perfect, then what kind of business would that be?
But I've made mistakes. And oh how those first few mistakes got me down.
It's bound to happen. The majority of my work consists of writing things - and no matter how many times I check, a word that is misspelled goes unnoticed sometimes.
USPS does not always care when I write boldly "Do not bend" on a package that is so sturdy it seems impossible to bend anyways. Things get damaged.
Last week I woke up in the middle of the night in a panic, questioning the way I'd completed a set of watercolor patterns for a client. I couldn't sleep thinking I'd done something wrong. The next day, it was confirmed. I had misunderstood some instructions (thankfully not too bad, but enough to set me back a whole day...) and had to redo a large portion of the project.
The key is how to handle those mistakes and putting them into perspective. I didn't cause anyone bodily harm or break the law here, I just made an honest mistake which can be fixed.
Instead of dwelling on the mistakes I've made along the way, I'm trying to learn from them. It's so cliche and annoying when other people tell you this, but it's so true.
I've learned to quadruple check spelling (as opposed to triple check), to package prints even sturdier, and to ask questions when I'm in doubt of what the client is looking for.
And things can get fixed without the world ending. Yes, it might set me back a bit, but again, no one died. It's not the end of the world. A few hours less sleep sometimes maybe, but the sun will still rise the next day.
I'm also learning that flipping out is not productive. I think my parents tried to teach me this starting at the age of 2, but some lessons take 28 more years to learn...
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to things I've learned the past few months being my own boss, but I thought these two things were shouting the loudest at me lately. I'm sure I'll have many more lessons learned in the next few months...