After graduating OCAD I went straight into a retail job. My priority was really just to get some kind of job in order to pay for starting up my illustration business. Eventually, I did get into freelancing full time but I was actually doing 70 per cent graphic design work and what I really wanted to only is illustration all day, every day. So, I’d say that freelance design was also my side hustle while I transitioned to drawing 100 per cent of the time, which is what I’m doing now thankfully!
The shop I worked at after graduating was a super creative atmosphere, so it did overlap a little. Though, what I really took away from that job though was more the backend stuff of running a business, which is what freelancing is, after all. My graphic design stint, of course, helps like crazy with what I do today—mostly in how I present my work and being able to see the perspective of the designers I work with and who commission me. It was definitely not a quick process; it took me two years from graduating to illustrating full time.
Now, I know how long I take to draw and how long I take to come up with ideas. That kind of predictability has been really crucial with how I time manage everything. I know how much time I need to work, and just as importantly, I know how much time I need to rest. I’m not a person who likes rigid schedules, but I’ve learned to at least adhere to some sort of routine in order to get the workflow smooth. I don’t use any sort of fancy calendar app, just iCal on my desktop on full screen mode. Seeing everything visually laid out and being able to drag and move everything around totally saves my life in this department.
Everyone has to side hustle and a lot of professionals still have these extra gigs on the side, so the first thing I’d say is to not worry that you’re not jumping straight into a full-time thing. I actually lean towards recommending your side hustle to be non-creative — even mindless — so that you can focus all your energy in your craft. Although my side hustle at a creative retail job did have its perks, I did find myself drained after shifts because my creative juices were zapped for the day.
I actually still struggle with work-life balance, but it’s definitely gotten much better in the past year. I’m a typical over-worker but I know there’s just as much value in resting and going to see friends. I found that email alerts were really the big culprit to my overworking since it made me feel like I was on the clock 24/7, so now there are periods of the day where I simply don’t check and instead, focus on “me time.”
As lame as it sounds, scheduling meeting up with friends like I would assignments works for me, too.