Fellow freelancers, I’m excited to share A Freelance Life’s first ever freelance insider interview! In these interviews, you’ll get an insight into what it’s really like to be a freelancer across a range of roles—as well as top tips and advice from successful freelancers. Today, we’re speaking to freelance illustrator Tony Parkash.
So Tony, what do you do as a freelancer?
I’m an Illustrator, creating illustration in the form of poster/cover art inspired by storytelling in all its forms, with a penchant for film, television, and video games. I also produce editorial illustrations based on a range of topics, from mental and physical health to social trends, science, and technology. Telling a story in a single image.
Why did you become a freelancer?
I became a freelancer after a few years of job hunting. I had applied for internships and graphic design jobs that I really didn’t have a huge interest in, but felt my skillset could match up with. When I graduated from university, I didn’t have any clear direction and that was the only career path I was familiar with as a creative. Get your foot in the door working for someone else, maybe in a Mad Men type ad agency, and slowly move up the ladder from there.
I was investing time in creating a portfolio I wasn’t enthusiastic about, pursuing jobs that didn’t really fit my interests. It wasn’t the smartest use of my time. Reflecting on that, and after a number of years trying to find a balance with my health, I decided to take a tilt at freelancing. Seeing others turning their passions into careers gave me that important bit of belief to keep hold of the ambition to work for myself.
How does freelancing compare to being an employee?
Working for yourself comes with a mixed bag of perks and pressure in my experience. The flexibility of choosing when you work is a huge benefit, but also a bit of a strain if like me, you allow it to be. I had a bad habit of working overtime on projects, working through the night, because I feel the quality of what I deliver to a client is a reflection of myself. If something’s not up to par, I know the buck stops with me because there’s nobody else to point the finger at.
Now, I work in an office part-time, and being an employee takes away that weight of responsibility. You have a role and a task, and repeat it daily. It can be mind-numbing, but unlike being a freelancer, you’re not filling multiple roles from CEO to secretary. They’re very different lifestyles and with a foot in both worlds, I feel the autonomy and variety of work as a freelancer suits me and my goals as a creative.
How do you find your clients?
I’ve found the majority of my clients through meeting people face to face and recommendations. I find that if you can be comfortable talking to people about what you offer, and if you have proof of your skillset to do the job, then you can slowly start to find work. I think people are more likely to get in touch with me as a freelancer if they can put a face to the business.
What’s one thing you wish you knew before becoming a freelancer?
The one thing I wish I knew before starting out as a freelancer would be the importance of balancing your wants and needs from a creative career as a freelancer. To view and treat it as both a personal and business venture, 50/50. To find a happy medium so you can earn a living from doing what you enjoy, without tipping the scale into taking on any old job that comes your way. I’ve struggled back and forth with that. Plan, organise, and direct yourself to find work and an income, but without sacrificing too much of your personal ambitions for your freelance career.
If you want to get in touch with Tony, hire him to illustrate one of your projects, or check out more of his awesome illustrations, you can find and follow him at:
Did you enjoy our first freelancer interview? Comment below or if you’d like to be featured in an insider interview, get in touch!
We’ll be featuring more insider interviews over the coming months, so stay tuned to A Freelance Life!