Thursday, July 24, 2008

Saving Your Career

I find the biggest problem among freelancers is being aware of the volume their counterparts are cranking out. Above is a job I just did for Trader Monthly. They do a cool back page parody thing, which did actually do a pretty good job with. I was asked to do CEOs as superheros (and of course, superheros are on everyone's minds this summer with Ironman, Batman and Superman coming soon. Plus CEOs love being portrayed as celebrities.). Anyway, the point is I was given two weeks to complete this but if I'm going to realistically make a living doing this (freelancing on my own) I need to impose my own deadline based on how much I was getting paid. I was also juggling multiple writing assignments, working on my next book, a handful of other illustration jobs, my usual 10 cartoon submissions (every week) to The New Yorker and the below painting (which is half way done). 

I'm not trying to impress. Just sharing a reminder to invest only as much time on a job as it deserves. Besides, this is common workload for the better known freelancers (and the above job is nothing to write home about – as I said, it was a rush job). But this is the number one reason I see many other freelancers not breaking in, because they're not producing fast enough. There is no time to noodle or tackle writer's block. My friend Lenore Skenazy is a humor columnist for the New York Sun who comes up with new ideas, non-stop, starting and finishing them in the same day (and her articles are hysterical). To further illustrate, this piece here she wrote in one day. That's where the bar is and believe me, neither of us are rolling in dough.

One exception of my "time-based-on-pay" rule (like I made it up. That's just it. The whole world, except us, freelancers, is using this business model. So why do we ignore it?) is the painting below for a charity group, The Lacawac Sanctuary (wonderful people but just a very difficult task to paint 30 or so animals – they don't sit still). I'm more than half way done with the 3 feet museum mural and let it be said here it will be my last illustration as I will probably kill myself when it's done. 
Here's a close-up. And here's hoping we all get our ducks in a row.

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Larry said...

Dorothy Parker was known for her wit, but "I hate writing, I love having written" is probably my favorite. I think when it's done, you'll love having created that museum painting...I'm loving it already. Nice work and insightful post as always.


John J Savo, the Authoring Auctioneer said...

It's funny you should mention writer's block... I just wrote about it...

Adam_Y said...

That's some great work.

I must say, you a great deal of discipline to work like that... and indeed, it is the only way to work freelance. I always found myself working harrder and later on projects that I should, especially for the money.

Di said...

Great Reality check on the "biz"! BTW gorgeous work!Now I have to get back to my drawing board & stop procrastinating! Must produce more work!

Anonymous said...

You shoulda pulled in Pete Palumbo for that duck job, fella! J