10 things I’ve learned the first year as an illustrator

1. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there: It was very scary to post my first work but I pushed myself to do it even though it wasn’t ‘perfect’. Perfection is arbitrary and everybody started somewhere. Looking back I don’t really like some of my first work anymore but that’s fine, I can see how far I’ve come.

2. Don’t sell yourself short: Besides enjoying to draw and wanting to experiment you obviously want to make some money as well. It’s a difficult topic and it can be hard naming your price. I’ve done some research and still find it difficult to ask for a certain price. It’s important to look at the customer and their budget but not to sell yourself short in the process.

3. There are a lot of helpful sources of information for free: You don’t need to go to art school to be an artist. Practicing and a little talent can bring you very far. But it’s good to educate yourself in the field you want to work in. I’ve been reading some books and blogs about being an illustrator. But probably the most helpful was the Women of illustration podcast with very practical and up to date tips. YouTube is also an amazing source of tutorials.

4. When you put your heart into it, it will show: The pieces I’ve had some trouble with but persisted on turned out to be the most popular. Sometimes I let them wait a couple of weeks to return and finish. Portraits are a bit easier because it’s about only bringing out the person without a background and message. I’ve been hearing that it’s more important to have a message than only a pretty picture so I’ve tried to take that along with me. I’ve put my heart in every piece and I think people are recognizing that and feeling what I want to bring across with the art.

5. Sharing is caring: Shortly after starting I was inspired to give back through my art. I never did much charity work before but it seemed fitting to be able to do something for children in my country of birth. Because I have a job besides illustrating I figured I can donate some part and try to do some projects for raising money. I was luckily to find an amazing charity to work together with (Charity Bosnian Kids) and faith had it two of the founders live close by. We’ve become friends and brainstorm often about how to make more projects happen.

6. You can always make time for something you love doing: Instead of watching too much TV I now start my evenings with some drawing and end it with 1 or 2 episodes. Sometimes I skip a day but then I end up missing it. Drawing with the kids present is a bit challenging because they want to take over the iPad but when they play I do some admin or insta stuff. There is always a spare hour in a day and all these hours add up and make you able to make a lot 🙂

7. You can’t do it all by yourself: There are a lot of things I don’t consider myself good at. One thing is being ‘technical’ so luckily the friend that pushed me to start is a website creator too so she helped me out with that. Another friend is a designer and offered to make my post cards. I don’t have to be able to do everything and some things I just don’t like doing. Also I sometimes find a babysitter or take off time from my other job to be able to be creative. You have to be pro active and put in the work if you want to succeed. A dream without a goal is just a wish!

8.Your style will develop by itself: Style is something you can’t force. By trying things out and just drawing drawing and drawing a certain style evolves in which you will be most comfortable. This style changes across time and that’s great. You don’t have to stick to anything. The only constant is change 😉

9. Choosing a niche is important: This is what I’ve learned from the Women of illustration podcast. People have to be able to see quickly what you are all about. In the beginning it can be difficult to know what your niche is but that develops over time. I found out mine are motherhood, families and more recently I added spirituality. These are the things that inspire me and that I want to put more out there.

10. Enjoy: Maybe this is the most important thing I’ve learned. Just enjoy the process. Sometimes it is about the result but enjoying every part of it is key. I think I love drawing so much cause it’s one of the few things that makes me be mindful easily. When I draw I don’t think about anything else, I’m just focused on my brush and the creation. Often I also listen to an audiobook while drawing but that just makes me better concentrated on the book. So, do what you love and enjoy!