Life As A Freelance Artist: Starting Out

So guys, it’s actually happened. I’m a full time freelance artist. I can officially call that my job. Which is amazing and terrifying all at the same time. On the amazing side, I truly can not stress enough how satisfying it is to sit down in my little art nook every day and draw for hours on end. It’s surreal. I feel so mentally at peace.


It’s only been a few weeks but I already have more confidence in making original art, by which I mean creating something without a direct reference. I’ve started a portrait series (see a sneak peak above from my Instagram!) which I’ve had the idea for in the back of my mind for ages. This is one my first attempts to make finished pieces without direct references and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I’ll be sharing more about the series on the blog of course, when I have some more work done on it.

Life As A Freelance Arist - First Job

I’ve also had my first official freelance job! A local farm hired me to create their t-shirt and hat designs. That’s them above, and how they will look screen-printed. It’s the first time my work will ever be printed on something. I also love how that job fell into my lap literally the day before my first official work-from-home week. Kicking off life as a freelance artist with a paying job was so mentally satisfying. Currently, I’ve got a commission lined up and three spots open for October. Interested in commissioning a piece? Email me at!

As for the terrifying aspect of this whole journey, I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. I still feel so uncomfortable saying, “I’m an artist”, when people ask me what I do. It feels fake. Like I’m playing pretend all day. Like I’m not really a working artist, I just call myself one. It is full on Fraud Police, as coined by Amanda Palmer. (PS, read The Art of Asking if you haven’t done that.) But I know that those feelings are just my personal worries and fears. I am incredibly grateful not only to have a supportive partner, but also amazing supportive friends and family as well.

Amanda Palmerβ€œThe Fraud Police are the imaginary, terrifying force of ‘real’ grown-ups who you believe – at some subconscious level – are going to come knocking on your door in the middle of the night, saying:We’ve been watching you, and we have evidence that you have NO IDEA WHAT YOU’RE DOING. You stand accused of the crime of completely winging it, you are guilty of making shit up as you go along, you do not actually deserve your job, we are taking everything away and we are TELLING EVERYBODY.” ― Amanda Palmer, The Art of Asking; or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help

I know that life as a freelance artist, and really any creative lifestyle, is a process. And it’s one I still have a huge amount to learn about. Right now, other than any projects that come my way, I’m working on building up a better portfolio and working on self-promotion. I haven’t put a huge amount of effort into self-promotion and without it, I don’t get work. Becoming comfortable with self-promotion, and doing it more effectively is at the top of my to-do list.

Life As A Freelance Artist: Starting Out - Thoughts on life as a newbie freelancer via My Open Sketchbook

Ultimately, I am completely thrilled with life as a freelance artist. As I stated above, I feel so peaceful each day. So satisfied. Being able to create art each day is fulfilling in more ways than I expected.




  • B.

    How exciting! Hopefully that farm job will lead to more business like it! How exciting for you. You deserve it!

    • Kay

      Thanks Barb! <3

  • Emma

    Gah – so excited for you! I’ve loved following your journey to becoming a freelance artist, and no one deserves a bit of recognition more than you do. I can’t wait to see where this takes you πŸ™‚

    • Kay

      Thank you so much Emma! <3

  • I’m so glad that you’re enjoying your job, which is so cool to say that that is your job! Everything you’ve created has been amazing so I can’t wait to see what you do going forward, especially with your original work!

    • Kay

      Thank you Katie! I’m so excited to create more original work!

  • Epicfied

    That’s so scary and awesome! Grats!

    • Kay

      Thanks Kayla! And yes, that does about sum it up haha! πŸ˜€

  • 1) This is awesome and I really look forward to reading more about your adventures in being a full-time freelance artist! 2) I am totally jealous because I would love nothing more than to quit my 9-5 to do my freelance work full time, so I’ll be living vicariously through you now. Thanks.

    • Kay

      Thanks Lynn! <3 I feel like the room/likelihood for failure makes this so much more scary, but I know that I would regret it forever if I don't give it a shot! There'll be more posts about it for sure. πŸ™‚

  • Mariah Kaercher

    Congratulations! πŸ™‚ That’s so exciting. Maybe I’ll request something from you someday!

    • Kay

      Thanks Mariah! Shoot me a message anytime! πŸ™‚

  • Yay! I’m so happy for you,I always love seeing what you’re working on. And I still love those designs you did for the farm, they’re so cute.

    • Kay

      Thanks Stacey!!

  • Awesome!! I’m glad things are going well for you! I’d love to know how you advertise yourself online/get yourself out there as an artist! πŸ˜€ I freelance from time to time, but I don’t do a great job at promoting/advertising online. I love the Aries painting as well, that’s my sign!

    • Kay

      Currently, I’m still figuring out all that self-promotion stuff as well! xD But I will definitely write up a post about it once I get more of a handle on it.

  • Danette Perez

    Oh my gourdddd I love the farm designs! They have just the right style and feel πŸ˜€

    • Kay

      Thanks friend!! <3 I'm so excited to see them printed!

  • Eeeep, I’m so excited for you!! The Abbott’s art looks fantastic, and how exciting to start off your new business with a commission! Can’t wait to hear more about your experiences with freelancing as you go<3

    • Kay

      Thanks Ashlee! <3

  • Danielle Knapp

    I am just so excited for you πŸ™‚

    • Kay

      Thank you Danielle!

  • So happy for you!!!! This is great! πŸ™‚ I’m sure you’ll make it: your art rocks and I love it!

    • Kay

      Thank you so much Pepi! <3

  • Pingback: Bye-Bye, 2016 - My Open Sketchbook()


Get the latest posts delivered to your mailbox: