Here's why I started #AFreelancersLife: To highlight different freelancers every month from all sorts of backgrounds and pick their brains about what they do and how they do it. Check out all previously featured freelancers right here. If you would like to be featured just drop me a line and let me know! Today's post features Lana, an illustrator who specializes in live and video illustration. I'm constantly amazed how many different incredibly awesome things people are working on - often, things I hadn't even heard of before. Read more about her life below.
How long have you been a freelancer and what exactly is it that you do?
I started my business in 2009 and decided to specialize on live and video illustration in 2015; basically, this means I visualize my clients’ topics. This way, they won’t get lost as easily as they can be remembered more clearly, shared freely and discussed openly. Furthermore, they appear to be more entertaining and exciting than a written text for their audience. For example, I do live drawings related to the content of a talk, discussion or lecture during the actual event (this is referred to as “graphic recording”) and/or create hand-drawn videos where in 1-3 minutes a product, service or project is explained in a clear and entertaining fashion.
How does your typical work day look like, if there is one at all?
I don’t really have a typical work day – which is exactly what I like about my work. Sometimes I attend large events where I get to meet exciting companies, inspiring locations and amazing lecturers which I get to work together with by doing graphic recording for them. This takes me outside of Vienna quite a few times – 2016 alone I had three continents on my schedule and worked in Belgium, Tansania, Armenia, Germany and in many parts of Austria! Other days, I meet with my clients at their office, in a café or via Skype to discuss next steps. When I’m drawing it’s possible to find me at the café around the corner or in the park. When it comes to shooting the video it’s a lot more technical: there’s lighting, camera settings, the shoot itself, the sound recording and post-editing. Finally, there’s admin to be taken care as well: answering e-mails, drafting invoices and proposals, coordinating freelancers for larger projects etc.
What does your freelancing work entail regarding activities and duties?
I believe the most important skill in my line of work is being able to connect the artistic with the economic thinking in a clear and strategic way. The most beautiful drawing is worth nothing to my client if it’s not aligned with his media channels or target groups – there has to be a central theme through all of the work. My main tasks therefore include listening closely in order to understand and filter out the most important message – so that I can then translate it into its visual form, whether that’s a video or a graphic recording.
What has been your biggest highlight so far as a freelancer?
My first highlight was definitely taking the step to self-employment – my second, finding my niche and focusing on it. Apart from that, there are so many moments that I will remember forever – locations I have visited, people who I have met through work. Without them, I wouldn’t be who I am today.
How does your previous education and experience tie in with your current freelancer work – was it necessary and if so, what exactly did you do?
I followed my passion, invested many, many hours into building my business and did not give up when it got hard from time to time to follow through.
Do you sometimes have motivational lows, and if so, what do you do to get out of your low?
There are certainly days when I am doubting myself, scared of whether I’m doing the right things. At some point I realized that pretty much everyone has these days! It really helped knowing that many successful women who I look up to had similar doubts and worries. The best thing to do is find a shoulder to cry on, go for a really long walk, take a bath, eat a delicious meal and then get up in the morning the next day and keep going. The thought of it being OK and normal to have a bad day and the fact that they will come and go made me a lot more calm about it.
What do you love about being a freelancer? What do you hate?
I love the freedom, the variety and that the work is custom-tailored to me: There’s no job that matches exactly my preferences, competence skills and my personality like the job that I created for myself and evolves alongside me. What I really dislike is the fact that I don’t know what would happen if I broke my right hand or fell ill for a longer period – for that, I don’t really have a plan. I’m also never going to be best friends with bookkeeping or other boring admin tasks.
How do you structure your day?
This is definitely something I still have to work on. Days where I start working at 8am and realize at 4pm that I haven’t had a single break all day or where I work until 1am are rather the rule than the exception. On the other hand, I think it’s great to have found something that lets you forget about everything else because you love doing it so much. I’d rather work 16 hours on something that makes me happy than the regular 8 hours with breaks on something that doesn’t!
Tell us about an exciting project you have worked on which made you proud.
I helped UNICEF promote its Child Rights Toolkit around the world. The project was about creating documents for workshops, videos for social media channels, doing live graphic recordings during workshops which were then converted into videos and then combined into a website where all of this can now be reviewed: www.childrightstoolkit.com.
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