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Dealing with uncertainty as an illustrator

Over the past few months, I’ve been posed with more uncertainty than I can ever remember facing before. Questions like “how do I find clients?” and “How could I be using my time better while I wait for jobs to come in?” have been floating around my mind non-stop.

I’m not the planning type, but I certainly do like to have options available. However, as an illustrator I’ve found that sometimes there aren’t as many options out there and I have to be okay with the uncertainty that comes with the career.

Uncertainty in an illustration career is a given, learning how to deal with it is the real challenge. Thankfully uncertainty is something anyone can learn to live with- it just takes a little bit of time and a lot of practice.

Cope with time alone.

Time alone can be very rewarding and productive when used the right way- however, spending copious amounts of time on your own can also be a perfect environment to nurture unspoken fears, worries, and anxieties surround uncertainty.

It’s important to know when being on your own is helping or hindering you. There are days I know I just need to get out of the house, phone a friend, or let someone in on what seems to be bothering me.

It’s important to remember that even though you may be spending several hours a day alone with your thoughts, you do not need to let the negative one’s fester. I highly encourage you to find someone who can encourage you through the hard times and help you overcome worrying about the future.

Stay positive.

Looking into a future that seems unclear has the potential to stir up worst case scenarios in your mind- it certainly does in mine.

It’s absolutely vital to cling to positivity and cultivate a hopeful working environment. Fuelling thoughts of failure, disappointment, and despair will not help productivity and certainly will not boost your creativity.

While failure is always a real possibility, so is success. Choose to assume you’ll succeed, then take the setbacks as they come. I’ve found I’m a lot more resilient when I choose to feel as though I’m succeeding more often than I’m failing.

Stay active.

Uncertainty has the potential to stop you in your tracks when you feel like you haven’t mapped out the next 10 steps forward.

I’m here to tell you that whether you’re doing client work, spending time on a personal project, or experimenting with something that interests you- it’s all valuable. Any experience you get, no matter where it comes from, has potential.

Staying active can help you find the light at the end of the tunnel- even if you can’t clearly see where you’re going in the moment.

Stay grounded.

Know why you’re illustrating and what you want out of it.

If you know you want a career in illustration and you wouldn’t be happy doing anything else with your life, no amount of uncertainty can stop you.

Stay grounded in your purpose, your passions, and your love for creating. Don’t let all the questions rolling around in your head keep you from pursuing what you were once so confident and excited about.

Be honest.

It’s so important to be honest and open with yourself and those around you.

If you’re stressed about not knowing what each month will hold, it’s important you acknowledge the negative emotions in order to work through them fully. Be honest about how you feel and be kind to yourself- uncertainty isn’t easy.

Talk to those in your community that care about you. Tell them about your concerns, hopes, and dreams and ask for advice. They are there to help you get through the difficult moments so that you can reach your goals.

People won’t know when to encourage and advise you if you leave your thoughts


Plan ahead.

I realise the whole point of being uncertain about your future is that concrete plans are hard to come by.

What I mean by plan ahead is make sure you’re ready for the next period of uncertainty. If you’ve just finished one project, plan how you’ll stretch your finances until you find the next big thing. Set up personal projects and make lists of things you can do while you wait.

Plan what you can and deal with the rest as it comes.

Closing out...

These were just a few things I’ve found helpful in the past few months as I’ve ridden the ups and downs of this COVID lifestyle.

I hope you’ve found these tips helpful, but if you’d like to chat more feel free to reach out! I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions.

And If you’ve enjoyed this post, please sign up for my monthly newsletter for more updates, tips, and challenges!

Have a great day 🌼


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