The many perks of being a freelancer

The many perks of being a freelancer

Bengaluru-based illustrator Alicia Souza is thankful she gets to work from home and still make a living

Alicia Souza

When I was young, I used to read Garfield comics in the newspaper. There was a new comic strip every single day. I used to think how horrible it must be for the creator to come up with an idea every single day without fail or they wouldn’t have a job. 

Funnily enough, that’s exactly what I do for a living now and it’s the best. 

When I completed university in Melbourne, I wanted to become a full-time illustrator. I remember contacting a lot of companies for a job but they had only part-time offers. It always works on a contract basis there. 

Starting my career as a freelancer wasn’t an option as I had bills to pay. I had already decided to not become a graphic designer. I didn’t want to get stuck in that field. If I was going to be in the art field, it will be to illustrate or do something completely different. 

That’s when I met my friend Bill Wood who is a freelance illustrator. Watching him work made me realise that being a freelancer is equally hard as having a full-time job.

Watching him work made it all real. I don’t remember drawing for him but I spent hours watching him work. I saw how he took calls, worked and planned his schedules all in his home-office. That set-up was so ideal and I desperately wanted that. 

Now, I do exactly that but in my pyjamas (laughs).

When I moved to Bengaluru and started freelancing in 2011, illustration was just a topic that people spoke about. It was very new and people were only slowly accepting it as a career option. 

It was initially a nightmare. I never wanted to be a freelancer. It sounded too hard and you have to take care of everything. But I’ve learnt a few tricks of the trade over the years and I enjoy them now. It was also important for me to make this work because I never had a plan B. 

Watching Bill work gave me an idea on how to take calls and be confident in quoting my pricing. He wasn’t afraid to lose jobs because of how much he charges. Then again, it was easier there; we don’t have that kind of power here. 

More than growing in the field, I’ve had a lot of personal growth. That’s been my biggest accomplishment. 

I was an extremely shy person. I would literally hide behind anything so that I wasn’t seen. I’m happy to say that I am a lot more confident now; I can go up on any stage and talk. 

I still don’t enjoy doing accounts — it’s quite painful! But I’ve made it a habit to do it at the beginning of every month so that I don’t have to worry too much later. 

My advise to anyone who is in this field or want to pursue it, think of this as any other job.

Don’t take it too personally if someone doesn’t want your work. It’s not because they don’t like you; they usually don’t have the budget to afford you. It’s important that you put that into perspective. 

Don’t ever undervalue your work. It will not only ruin your work but also for the market. Price your illustrations on the amount of work you have done and to match your standard
of living. 

Never in a million years did I think I would reach where I am now. I pinch myself every day to see if this is actually working. I certainly feel accomplished.