One year ago, I took a major leap. I left my salary job as a concept artist at a studio. The problem was, I didn't know what I was going to do next. In the back of my mind, I figured finding another studio job was probably my safest bet (considering my financial situation at the time). Let's also not forget that I have two Chinese parents that held success at a very high standard, and I didn't want to let anyone think that I've given up.
To many people, any stable job was a good job, so everyone encouraged me to look for work at a studio that offered a steady income, but I knew that wasn't for me. Rarely does a studio (especially in the animation industry) allow you to express your creative freedom. You have to draw whatever you're told, and even change your art style to better suit what they're looking for. All they want are for things to be done quick and cheap and that for me, was really draining. It took away my love for art and my passion to create. Every time I came back home, the last thing I wanted to do was to pick up another pencil, sit on a chair for the rest of the day and draw.
What really pushed me to quit was my trip to L.A. To keep it short, I had a life-changing experience, and it really opened my eyes to the opportunities that I was missing out on. It inspired me to take a risk and start investing in myself (can't begin to emphasize how important that is). It also helped that my boyfriend and I worked at the same studio and we made the decision together to both quit the day we got back (yes I know, we're very dramatic), and that's exactly what we did.
Fortunately, he knew what he wanted to do the day he quit, and that was to start working on his comic. I, on the other hand, knew I wanted to do illustrations related to fashion and beauty, but was very lost on how to do so. One thing I did know was that social media was very powerful, and seeing how people were able to strive and find opportunities from it gave me the drive to do the same. I started with less than 5000 followers on Instagram when I quit my job, and I made it my goal to build upon that. Every time I finished an illustration, I'd post it on all my social media (Instagram, Facebook, Behance, Facebook, Deviantart and Artstation) and as my illustrations started to improve, the more followers I would get, that lead to more exposure, which ultimately lead to more jobs and opportunities. Before I knew it, I no longer had to look for a studio job. This isn't the only way to transition into freelance, but it was what worked for me.
Below are a few of my earlier works that helped me find my style and realize my potential.
Freelance isn't for everyone, you need to have a lot of discipline, a good work ethic, and whole lot of passion for what you do. You're essentially becoming your own boss, so if you think you lack any of these qualities, I highly suggest working on them before you decide to freelance full time.
I know losing stability can be the scariest thing. The hardest part of freelancing is not knowing how much you'll make the next month, but once you get over that fear and just focus on the work, it can truly become a reality for you. I'm proud to say that I'm comfortable with where I am right now (and with my standards, that's saying a lot). It took me approximately 4-5 months to really get things together and running smoothly, but we all have our own journeys and obstacles we must overcome. You might take less time or more, and that's okay. Good things never come easy (which is why it's also important to have some money saved up, but you already knew that haha). I'll just end with saying; if you work hard, and you put in 100% of your effort, passion, and yourself in what you do, you can't fail.