Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What Does Being Self-Directed Mean To An Illustrator?

I have received many emails from illustrators asking me what 'self-directed' and 'self-direction' means. It is indeed a lexicon to add to the illustrator dialog. 

Self-Direction by definition means:
• To be directed or guided by oneself, especially as an independent agent.
• To be regulated or conducted by oneself.
• To be free from external control and constraint; "an independent mind"; "a series of independent judgments"; "fiercely independent individualism."

One of the appeals to being an illustrator is independence or to have that "fiercely independent individualism." I think many can relate to that concept and can hardly imagine working any other way. 

So how does it apply to us? Self-Direction when it come to illustration can mean many things:

1. Self-Directed Career-
“Skill to do comes of doing.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Being your own boss means a lot of work, a lot problem solving and a lot of action. The rewards are both a personal and a professional asset. We have a large amount of control of when we work, where we work and how we work. This includes how we create our art- either traditional to digital techniques plus  promotion, and our earning potential. We motivate ourselves to do what it takes to get it all done with the help of our drive to succeed plus many, many cups of coffee. 

2. Self-Directed Projects-
“When freedom prevails, the ingenuity and inventiveness of people creates incredible wealth. This is the source of the natural improvement of the human condition.” –Brian S. Wesbury

Client work is definitely the driving force behind our earning potential. However, we will always have the natural drive to create things on our own on a whim so we can nurture our natural need for creative freedom. Self-directed projects are all about creating work outside of clients. This includes promotion illustrations, portfolio building and other creative projects that do not always add income but can help you make a bigger body of work which can increase future revenue. 

Labeling projects to promote online as 'self-directed' is a good way to promote self work in a very professional way. It is a clear title that says you are able to create great work and self-direct yourself. If you can self-direct a project for yourself then clients will see that as an asset for future projects with them. 

3. Self-Directed Learning- 
“Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual.” ~ Arthur Koestler

Quite simply, our education never stops! Technology, new business ideas, social networking and new ways of working are a constant in our careers. We do it all from illustrating, marketing, web design, writing, promotion to accounting. 
This constant learning includes webinars, podcasts, books, ebooks, online study, articles and anything we can get our hands on. There is no end to the information which definitely makes this industry so damn interesting! Our only constraint is scheduling enough time to absorb it all! 

“The world is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.” - Bertrand Russell