Updated: Jan 13, 2020
If you are an outsider looking in on what it is like to be self employed, it is quite easy to wear rose tinted glasses. Self employed people are those trendy kids in a cafe, wearing a turtle neck jumper, round glasses, sipping on a skinny latte, living the dream- right? Perhaps, although I certainly do not fit that description. Catch me in my studio, burning my oesophagus on hot tea, bits of material stuck in my hair, fingers glued together, flapping about with a concentration span of a two year old. I know what you are thinking- still doesn't sound too bad right? Yup it really ain't bad; as you know, I love what I do... but trust me when I say, it has its ups and downs like any job!
I went from having a steady flow of commissions last year, to my enquiries pretty much coming to a stand still over the Christmas holiday, and most of January. My boyfriend, friends, and family all assured me that January sucks for every business. But I had no way of knowing things were going to pick up again. I had the promise of several commissions fall through last minute (I'm guessing because they too were finding January a particularly sticky month), a post Christmas depleted bank balance, and ominous, fast approaching direct debits and standing orders. We've all been there. Money stress is REAAALL. But for us self employed lot- the end of the month offers no saving grace. We can't rely on that nice wod of cash to bail us out. And so in typical Lily fashion, the self doubt crept in, energy levels plummeted, and I was struggling to find the positive, bubbly energy to post regularly on social media. I know right- cry me a river.
When I was working a nine to five job in London; on a monthly salary, boy did I burn the candle at both ends! After work hours involved meeting people for drinks or food or both, and well, weekends?... weekends were another story! As long as I did the work, and pitched up I knew I was going to get paid. Where as now I feel there are never enough hours in the day, and every hour counts. If I think I am not working hard enough, or putting in the hours, the nagging guilt becomes unbearable. Even when my bank balance is flush I worry about spending the money. Partying with friends at the weekend is like a distant privilege I no longer enjoy without worrying if I'll be able to put in the hours the following day.
I am a one man band; If I'm not making, I am drafting a quote, or writing a blog, working on my marketing strategy, editing my website, taking pieces to the framer, paying photographers, the list goes on. Sometimes people say things to me like, 'Oh but why do you have to worry? It's not like you have work tomorrow'. The voice inside my head kindly replies 'Do me a favour and shut the f*%&k up'. I may not work regular hours, yes my diary is super flexible, and yes this is my dream job.. but honestly? My mind never shuts off. Something I have learned from being self employed, is that there is a very grey area between your personal life and work. Everything kinda gets thrown into one pot. But ask me if I would I ever go back to a nine to five job? I would say- Hell no!
Much to my relief, my Boyfriend, Friends and Family were all right in saying things were going to pick up again. I think I have survived my first January as a self-employed Artist. Note to self- people don't buy art in January! It looks like I may have a commission queue of 8, possibly 9 birds of all shapes and sizes. I am planning a knock out photoshoot, AND aiming to throw a BIG PARTTYY .. ok I mean exhibition, in London in the summer. Energy levels are back up girls and boys, this year is gonna be a great one!