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Sep 15

9/15/2011 9:11 AM 

 - By Charlie Beyl, freelance illustrator and BFA faculty member at Pennsylvania College of Art & Design


Parents of prospective art college students often ask me: "What kind of jobs are there for illustrators?" I then proceed to tell them that many illustrators are "freelancers" and that we work out of our studios, usually found in our homes. I then get the hard stare of the protective mom and dad who fear for their child and his or her future without a bi-weekly paycheck, health benefits, and  the possibility that they may never leave home.

When I started freelancing in 1989, I was in a distinct minority. Over the years, with all of the ups and downs of the economy, more people have joined the ranks.  Sara Horowitz describes the "Gig Economy" in this first of a series of articles from The Atlantic on the rise of the freelancer in our workplace.

It is nice to know we freelance illustrators are not alone anymore. I would always advise that although freelancing is not the life for everyone, it is the life for some of us and it can be very rewarding. Now it appears that it is a growing life for many of us both within and outside of the visual arts.

I encourage you to read Sara’s article “The Freelance Surge Is the Industrial Revolution of Our Time” and continue to follow her entries on this topic.


Sara Horowitz is the founder of Freelancers Union, an advocacy group for independent workers like me.

Charlie Beyl is a freelance illustrator and BFA faculty member in illustration and graphic design at Pennsylvania College of Art & Design.





3 comment(s) so far...

Re: We Are No Longer Alone - The Rise of Freelance

Charlie previously shared Sara's article with a few of us and it's an interesting take on yet another shift in the industry, as well as spotlighting how important it is to be in touch with those trends. As a full-time freelance designer who also teaches part-time at PCA&D, I accumulated my freelance clients over a 10-15 year period. The challenge for any young artist looking to freelance sooner than later after graduation is to find a way to make those client-potential contacts more quickly.All the more reason to truly go for it during those four years of college so you're ready with a professional portfolio and website, social media presence and more to both attract and impress potential clients out of the gate.

By Tom Bejgrowicz on   9/15/2011 2:32 PM  

Re: We Are No Longer Alone - The Rise of Freelance

It seems to me that the function of the internet cannot be understated in all this. It has never before been possible for artists of any kind to make their work visible over such a wide network. Of course the artist must still "work" those connections but the whole thing can now be so much more egalitarian without so much involvement of dealers, who I have to say, can charge exhorbitant rates of commision simply for being in the right place at the right time.

By mark robb on   10/3/2011 7:19 AM  

Re: We Are No Longer Alone - The Rise of Freelance

The internet can be both bad an good for freelance illustrators. The good side is being able to show your work to so many people. The bad side is so much competition.

By William Imhoff on   7/16/2013 8:29 AM  

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