As of this month, I've been working full-time as an illustrator for eight years. I went back today and read what I'd written about freelancing five years ago. I think it still holds up as advice, especially for newer illustrators.

The only thing I'd add is the vital importance of stepping back to assess what you want in life and in turn, your work. I'm learning (albeit, slowly) that it's okay to catch your breath and get your bearings, that it's not always necessary to be scrambling pell-mell towards the Next Thing. Dreams are good, but burnout isn't.

Also, I still stand behind the advice to eat ice cream when the job calls for it. Or donuts. Your choice.



Like most freelancers, I end up listening to a lot of podcasts. So I thought I'd put together a list of a few of my favorites.

1. After the Jump: Hosted by Design*Sponge's Grace Bonney, After the Jump is a terrific resource for freelancers, creatives, small business owners and the like. A balance of interviews, tips and how-to's, it's definitely given me a lot of food for thought.

2. Serial: When I first heard that This American Life was doing a spin-off, I'll admit I was skeptical. But Sarah Koenig's made a convert of me and I'm counting down the days until each new episode. What I really love about Serial is the way it takes a story and disassembles it, examining all the bits of information we typically zoom past in this soundbite age. Caveat: Season 1 deals with a murder, so heads up if you're someone who listens to shows with kiddos around.

3. BBC Radio 4 Extra: You guys have no idea how much of this I listen to. For reals. I'm a sucker for radio dramas, so Radio 4 Extra is my auditory Shangri-La. Modern book adaptations, classics in serial form, sci-fi, it's pretty much all here. And speaking of the BBC...

4. Desert Island Discs: Stranded on a desert island, what tunes would you take along? Desert Island Discs poses this question to a terrific range of guests, everyone from politicians to actors, humanitarians to academics. You can also search for shows where the "castaway" choses a particular artist (and yes, I did listen to every show where the castaway chose the Talking Heads).

5. Smart Creative Women: A treasure trove of interviews with women in a wide range of fields, everything from surface design to quilting to illustration and more.

And what else? I figure This American LifeRadiolab and All Songs Considered are a given for most people, but if you don't listen, get a move on ASAP. I don't listen as frequently to How to do Everything and 99% Invisible, but when I do, like 'em a lot. And if you have the slightest interest in comics, Jerzy Drozd's Comics are Great podcast is top notch.

Whew. So what did I miss?

Win Some, Lose Some

I went to figure drawing on Sunday. I never really found my groove, but I'm happy with these two sketches. So here's to muddling through and tiny victories.

Figure Drawing, Redux

I went to a figure drawing session Sunday. I use to go to them pretty regularly right after graduating from college, but then work and life kicked in. And you know how it goes, things fall to the wayside, and you keep telling yourself, "mañana."

But the expression, "use it or lose it" is both annoyingly trite and true. The first half hour, all I wanted to do was to take a butane torch to my sketches. After awhile, though, things started clicking and I'm glad I went. It felt really good to get out and draw from life again and I want to make this a regular thing. Speaking of which: can anyone recommend sessions in the Seacoast, New Hampshire or Southern Maine area?

An aside: I don't think I could stay still for two minutes, let alone ten in an intricate pose, wearing a costume and pointe shoes. Seriously, high five, ladies.

Structurally Sound

I've been setting aside the first 15 minutes of my work day sketching plates from Anatomy for the Artist. As far as anatomy books go, it's a nice balance between art and science, a solid reference source. Sketching I keep thinking of sit ups: it might not be the most glamorous activity, but the end results are worth it. And I promise, I will never reference sit ups here again ever.
Hoping you all have delightful weekends. Me, I'm planning to go eat pizza, then watch dinosaurs terrorize the 21st century. A solid weekend, I say.