Freelance Friday – In Praise of Personal Projects

Hi all! Today’s a bit of a quicky post, as I’m only just starting to shake off this flu (let’s hope that’s my quota for the season O.o).

What I did manage to get done in my flu-ridden haze was set up a new blog for a personal side project – a series of magical girls illustrations – which you can find here!

This started out because for some time I’ve wanted to bring in a more physical element to my work, and start trying to slowly nudge my way towards selling more originals and doing more gallery/exhibition work. It’s a bit of an ask, as I know the pop surrealist/illustration gallery scene isn’t terribly present in the UK, but hey. We’ll see.

Freelance-wise, if you’re anything like me, you notice areas all the time where your work might fit and there may be a market for it – and people probably make suggestions along these lines as well. But any new avenue requires a big investment – of time at the very least – before you’re likely to get a return on that, so one has to be careful what one pursues, because it can’t be everything. I think personal projects – things that give you pleasure and are low stakes – are good ways to dip your feet in the water of an area of interest.

At any rate, I needed to start experimenting a bit on how my very line-based strengths could translate to attractive originals. I came across a call for work for a London show on superheroes in a broad sense, and started thinking about magical girls, as a different take on female superpowers, and an interesting and complex mix of traditionally feminine imagery (and the positives and negatives that go with it’s use), heroism, women and self-sacrifice narratives, and a kind of electricity from the combination of fluffy, kitsch visuals, and grit and conflict. At any rate, this was the picture I submitted. The show fell of the face of the earth and I don’t think ever happened, but by then I’d already done several more magical girls, and was enjoying them a lot. I’ve since used them to start experimenting with different paints and surfaces, and see what my work translates to.

I think it’s fairly good timing. There’s a renewed interest and enthusiasm for magical girls around in comics and illustration circles at the moment, as the genre was refreshed by Madoka Magica, and we’re coming up to the Sailor Moon’s  anime’s 20th anniversary. And I think it’s good to pay attention to those sort of things. I feel like there’s a decent chance of crowdfunding an artbook with these in future, or perhaps investing in a diy exhibition. We’ll see…

But most of all, I think the balance that personal projects bring is the most important thing. In my case, I tend to have too many at any one time (I’m limiting myself at the moment to one comic, one prose book and one illustration project, but that’s still a lot of demand for my barely-there free time!), but working in different ways helps bring balance and refreshment to my work. For example, I’ve never, ever been anything resembling a morning person. But I recently discovered that I can paint first-thing in the morning. The tactile nature is pleasurable, and it doesn’t seem to require the parts of my brain that are not functioning yet. Things like that can help turn dead time into time when something is getting done, and a wider gamut of my creative needs are being met.

This is a bit more of a ramble than usual, so I apologize for that. Let’s blame the flu. But in short, personal projects are useful was of testing the waters on potential new avenues – but your own pleasure, and balance in your creative life, should probably come before that. After all, it’s *personal* work…and we all have a right to that!