Abi Overland

My days vary massively, through planning and completing various personal drawing projects, undertaking freelance illustration jobs and ensuring that all my admin tasks are up to date. I am always seeking out new work and networking, in order to get involved with new and exciting opportunities. Quiet days are taken up by researching and exploring new ideas, designs or products as I love keeping busy so to continually improve the business.

What do you think are the three most important skills to succeed in your career area?
Determination, optimism and sociability. All three of these are imperative for a creative freelance career, it’s not for the lighthearted and you need to be sure of yourself. You need to be able to work well with others, otherwise your potential clients will go elsewhere.

Was this something you planned to do or did you change direction at any point in the past?
I always knew that I couldn’t sit behind a desk or have a job that wasn’t creative. I worked in finance for three years before I decided to
go to university and do a degree in illustration. My finance based work experience, gave me the motivation to pursue a career in illustration. It was hard going from a good steady job back to university, with no guarantee that I’d make something of it afterwards, but if it were easy then everyone would do it.

What do you love most about working in your career area?
I get to be my own boss and work to my own schedule, this might mean I’m working till 1 in the morning but it also means I can go for a mid-morning coffee at the beach if I want. I work hard but it’s only up to me to decide the hours and I get to draw pretty much every day and that’s what I love to do.

Are there any negative aspects of working in your career area that people considering it should be aware of?
It is a very scary career path as there is no one guaranteeing your wage each month. The longer you do it, the less stressful it is, but it is up to you and you alone to ensure the rent is paid and your bills are covered. It can also be lonely at times but I share a studio with other creatives now which I think is very important for morale and discipline.

What training / qualifications did you undertake for your current role or are you currently undertaking?
I have a BA Hons in Illustration from the University of Brighton that followed from an FDA in Illustration. I found that having an uninterrupted wealth of time to discover and develop your creativity and skill, is imperative to being successful. You need this time to make mistakes and be told by your tutors what you are doing right and wrong and build on this.

Is there any other information that would be of interest to someone thinking of this career?
To run a business it’s really important to enforce your own working routine. It’s easy for days to run away without really achieving much when you work for yourself and if you don’t work you don’t earn. Don’t give up on the first hurdle as so many people do, in this industry you will probably get shot down countless times but you have to have faith in yourself, carry on and decide that you’re absolutely not going to fail.

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