It's been 3 years now that I've turned into a full-time artist, a decision that was so hard to take as far as I remember. But I did prepare myself for it, I knew there are many perspectives and a big chance to fail many times. So please understand that today it's still a bit unreal that I finally have an agent who will represent me internationally. Nothing very impressive if we think about it in general, but for me it's a huge achievement. I'd like to share with you my journey in finding an agent.
During my first year of freelancing, I tried to collect as many informations as possible about the business and "how to start" correctly. But when you live in a country where the simple thought of working as a creative is still ambiguous, I thought I need to work harder than I should to ever have a chance. So I spent months building a kind of survival list on my Drive where I put all the agencies I found on internet and drafted many mails to send in case. I was very annoying at that time because I wrote to every professional illustrators I know to ask them advises on how to contact the right people in the right way. Hopefully there were great artists who were kind enough to answer me, one of them was Jessica Gibson who shared with me some very useful advises and her own experience on finding an agent.
I remember sending exactly 60 mails to 60 agencies, only ten answered me saying they are already full. At that time I was inpatient and didn't understand the importance of having my own website before contacting agents. So I stopped for a while and got hired in a full-time position as an artist.
Learning the hard ways
During the years of my full-time job, I learned many things not only about working as a full-time illustrator but also about myself and how I see myself as an artist. There were ups and downs, I cried as I laughed... But the most important thing I want to remember is I had great supports from my loved ones and some amazing artists such as Chris Dunn among others.
I built up this website, invested on books and on online contents to help me grow. I learned a bit more about publishing, joined the SCBWI and some children's book groups on social media where I made great friends too. On October 2019, I quite my job to become a full-time illustrator, again.
Just when I was in total uncertainty after quitting my full-time job, I applied to a job on Linkedin. I wasn't very hopeful for that position but it said they are looking for an illustrator so I just took a chance. I didn't have any idea it was a talent scout, a woman contacted me and told me about Advocate Art and how they are interested in my works. I didn't see it come ! After years, I was finally scoped by an agency ! Of course I accepted and developed my portfolio with one of Advocate's agents.
Learning patience and trust
In my head it was already "success and spotlights". I didn't realise it would take such a long time to finally get there... I was worried and disappointed with myself, how green I am. I learned to trust, to enjoy each step to my goal and just breathing.
Ironically, the more I was worried, the more works came my ways. I got many work inquiries from self-published authors who brought other authors to me. It was like the Universe were conspiring to help me, insane ! I was so grateful and happy that I totally forgot the fact that I was still waiting for the agency's confirmation. I made great friends, some badass artists who have the same vision as me. I also made enough money to invest on new tools, so I bought an iPad Pro and learned using Procreate. Everything was going well to me, I felt loved and worthy.
And then 6 months later Advocate finally wrote to me to announce my representation after reviewing all the artworks I sent and did with them. Today I'm officially represented and I'm waiting for them to prepare everything.
To conclude, what I'm trying to say is NEVER GIVE UP. All hard works will always be paid. TRUST, because it's all you can do in this career. If you fail, if you succeed, always be fully present. Feel each moment, LOVE. At the end of the day, the simple thought of being yourself and not trying to pretend being someone/something else will satisfy you.
It’s been a year and a half that we live in this tiny studio made of 2 small rooms and a kitchen. It’s a cozy place, calm even if our flat is in a love hotel (with the sound in the background at night lol). I’m a bit sad to leave but since my father passed away, it’s been hard for my mother and my nephew to stay in their former house, so we decided to move all together in a bigger house that we are going to share.
This big decision will affect a lot our monthly budget as the house is a lot more expensive...
I haven’t stopped thinking about it lately, days and nights. I’m having sleep issues, headaches, and I feel my body is just weak. This is not the first time it happens to me, I often have anxiety and stress when I’m facing a situation I feel I am not able to control. So I have decided to talk about it and share it with you in this article.
Being a freelancer and dealing with uncertainty
The thing I’ll never get used to as a freelancer is uncertainty. I still find it hard to accept that each day is a surprise (both bad and good) and that I will never know how much I will get this month or the next. Though I prepared myself to this during years, it’s still hard for me to manage it. I see some freelance illustrators who make it perfectly, sometimes I listen to some freelancing pod-casts but I still find it hard... My motivation is that I do something I love, this is what I’m telling myself in hard times even if it doesn’t always work.
Books and youtube can be good friends when I’m anxious like this, but it is still not very efficient.
The thing is that I never really talk about how anxious I am when working, thinking, sleeping... I always try to tell myself that I am ok, this is me, I am always «positive». That’s why I’ve decided to be more opened and write articles... I believe it will help me a lot.
Adulthood and responsibilities
Things were way more easier when we were kids, we allowed ourselves to make mistakes and we did not have to be strong all the time. It changes when you become an adult...
I believe all illustrators and artists are not all anxious or depressed. I think the context has a lot to do with it. As I’m in charge of my mom and my nephew, I don’t really have limitless choices about how I want to live my life. I am very lucky because at least I had the courage to leave my day job to become a full-time illustrator in a country where it is not considered as a job yet. That’s why everyday I have to compromise with myself: money or passion, sometimes I have to put aside one of the two or choose to take both of them if I’m lucky. Whenever I can, I always try to find ways in order to hold these two.
Things that help me
These are the things I use every time I’m facing a panic attack or depression:
_Finding answers in books. «How to be an illustrator» by Darrel Rees is my favorite.
_Crying. I know it sounds more depressing but crying makes things less heavy. I never hold my tears, it is good for health sometimes.
_Talking with my boyfriend. He is the only person I trust that much.
_Thinking about my father. Whenever I’m down and feel like I don’t have any reason left to fight, I’m thinking about my last conversations with him before he died. Then I realize again I have to live my dreams, not only for me but also for him.
This December 2018 , Essentielle Magazine, the most read magazine for women in Madagascar , talks about me in one of their articles. I shared my experience as an illustrator and self-employed little lady.
The magazine is in French.
All City Canvas (ACC) is a creative blog showcasing street art and engaging artists all over the World. Their story is amazing. Inspired by the Mexican muralism movement, as one of the world’s most important urban art festivals in Mexico City, with 8 internationally renowned artists intervening 8 huge walls at the same time in the span of a week. They defied cities, walls and environments to create high impact productions. ACC then turned its focus to specific interventions, its Global Series, featuring one artist intervening one wall in one city. They made their debut in the world of fashion alongside the clothing brand Tony Delfino. From its beginnings, ACC has been an evolving continuum.
I had the honor to be noticed by ACC. I don't necessarily make street-art but I am the first Malagasy artist to be hosted in their amazing art page.
They made an amazing compilation video of my works with inspirational words.
"Sawyer Cloud Out from The Comfort Zone and Becoming A full-time Illustrator"
IMURAL is a creative blog showcasing the best artists' creations in the World. I had the honor to be showed up in their website in which I talk about path to becoming a full-time creative.
2018 is definitely a good year for me as an artist. When I started this "freelance illustrator" adventure in April, I did not have any idea of how far it would go. In July, after holding a Q&A session on AMA.feed , Bored Panda wrote an adorable article about me and my art career. It was a great achievement for me as I live in an island where running a creative career is still a struggle and I have just been going through improving situations at that time.
I was also very surprised at how Bored Panda associated my illustration style to the Cartoon Network world. It motivates me to get to work in that company later as I like their shows.