Self care for freelancers

Cariad's self care

I’ve been thinking a lot about self care. About what basics you need to set yourself up with so you have the best quality of life. In short, I’ve not really been treating myself well lately. This inadvertently leads to me being in a slump. Stripping back to the basics, I’ve taken a closer look at what is the key to staying content.

For me basic self care is essentially keeping to a balanced diet, doing regular exercise, getting enough sleep, going outside and spending time with good people. A difficult feat for someone who’s at her most comfortable staying home alone for most of the day. On top of that, moving to a new town where I know very few people, has made things that little bit more complicated.

However, this week I’m determined to change that. Firstly, we all know that having a balanced diet is important. But myself being vegan I have to be even more aware of my nutrition. So I’ve meticulously planned my diet to encompass all the things a vegan needs. No lack of protein here!

Whilst sleep has never been something I’ve struggled getting enough of, exercise definitely is. At the beginning of this year my first resolution was to do yoga everyday. On reflection this wasn’t a very realistic resolution, but its definitely something I still want to do at the very least once a week. Yoga not only gives you a good workout, it also helps calm the mind.

Particularly since its still summer here it would be a good opportunity to go out and enjoy a walk. We’re pretty lucky to have such nice places to walk in Somerset, so it be a shame not to. Plus, I’m sort of obsessed at eating all the blackberries I can find.

Finding good people is a little bit tricker, as it takes time to get to know them (especially as a shy person). Initial places to start would be to attend a exercise class, join a craft group or go to a book club. The more you put yourself out there the more likely you are to meet likeminded people.

It’s still all a work in progress and there will be always be those meh days but as long as you’re self caring for yourself overall hopefully they’ll be few and far between.

Networking for shy people

Cariad bach at work

Before I begin with the main topic of today, Networking for shy illustrators, I wanted to first look at what kind of resources there are available as an illustrator.

The internet is a great place to start when you first are doing research on being a freelance illustrator. I’ve spent some time scouring the internet for various pieces of advice. But there is one clear pitfall to using the internet as a resource, there’s a lot of it. At some point you have to take a step back for fear of information overload. There’s also something else I’ve come to realise. There is no clear path to becoming a freelance illustrator. Everyone’s experience of success can differ wildly. Whilst is undeniable that for most part, being a freelance illustrator requires hardwork, how you get there is another thing entirely.

In an effort to organise my mind I created a quick spider diagram to brainstorm ideas for getting advice and potentially finding work. I think it’s worth trying several different routes to begin with, you never know.

Different resources to consider as an illustrator


Whilst you can network online to an extent, I believe the best way to connect with anyone is in person. As a shy person this concept is daunting. For the majority of the day I’m pretty content to keep myself. I really don’t like putting myself out there and being in big crowds (especially by myself). But, I think it’s important to expand my comfort level. So these past couple weeks I’ve done a few things that made me initially uncomfortable. I hope you can learn a little from my experiences.

The networking event

Whilst visiting my family in Cardiff I attended a Creative Morning talk. I’d lived in Cardiff up until last April and it was something I’d always wanted to attend but never could. But here was an opportunity, so I seized it.

That morning leading up to the event I was nervous. So nervous in fact that I almost walked straight past the venue and home again. It was packed with smart looking creatives, people I never truly felt akin to. As individuals I’m sure they are all lovely, but as a group they intimidated the hell out of me. But I persevered.

I’m not someone who finds it easy to approach strangers, so I tried my best not  to look like anxious wreck I felt on the inside. It was only when I sat down and the talk began did I feel myself calm a little.

By the end, whilst I didn’t manage to strike up a conversation with anyone in there, I did come away with a sense of achievement.

The small gallery talk

After encouragement from my boyfriend, I emailed a few local artists. It was something I’d been putting off for some trivial reason. But when I finally did it, I was pleasantly surprised.

Flash forward to Saturday where I found myself in a small gallery in Frome after accepting an invitation from an artists I’d emailed. About eight or so people were there to listen to a printmaking artist. Indiscernible but relaxing music played in the background as he talked through his linocuts from the 1980s to now. It was great.

Maybe it was the fact I had already been to a similar but more challenging event previously, but I felt so easy in going up and talking to different people. I felt emboldened to put myself out there.

After the talk I was allowed to see artists studio (my email acquaintance) that overlooked the same street as the gallery. There’s something special about seeing someone’s workspace. It’s in these cases where I feel so much more motivated to continue.

If there’s one piece of advice from I can give from these two experiences, it’s this: Don’t be afraid to be friendly and just talk to people. The worst that can happen is you don’t click. Even if you think you’ve failed, just remember that you made the effort to join in and there will always be a next time. Bottom line is, some people are amazing at networking but just take it at your own pace. And instead of thinking of it as a place to network, think of it as a place to make friends. 

How to start as an illustrator

Beginning as a illustrator when you don’t know where to start

Firstly, let me introduce myself. My name is Jennifer. I am a (hopeful) freelance illustrator who graduated from art uni exactly 7 years ago. I have had a variety of different jobs, but nothing that has led to work as a full time creative.

At the beginning of this year, like every year, I made my resolutions. I wrote my top six goals for 2018. They included the standard diet/exercise related goals, a travel goal and my most important goal, to become a fulltime artist. This goal however, is proving so much more difficult to realise than any of the others. But right now I’m facing a period in my life where I have a lot of time on my hands. Time that I’ve decided to put to productive use.

Everyday I will be setting myself challenges or goals I have to achieve. They all have to relate back to my three root goals that I’ve written to remind myself.

My Three Root Goals

I’m unsure how I will achieve my goal of becoming a full time illustrator but I want to give it a go. I believe that if I work hard enough, learn from others and hone my skills as an illustrator I might be in with a chance. My intention with this blog is to write about my experiences, therefore making myself accountable in the process. Along with that, writing in itself is a way to put my thoughts in order and to better understand myself.

Who knows, maybe in the process of writing this blog I might inspire someone else to try and achieve their aspirations. But for now, I’ll leave it here, as I plan to spend the remainder of my day in my little studio.

The Tiny Vegan’s Guide to Cardiff

Vegan guide

It’s finally here, The Tiny Vegan’s Guide to Cardiff. This has been a little passion project of mine for the past few months. I’ve always wanted to do a guide, but the task always seemed immense. However, things changed when, after 7 years of being vegetarian, I decided to become vegan. Then finally it clicked… I should make a vegan guide.

Over the next few weeks I carefully mapped out all the places I found online that were either vegan or vegan friendly in Cardiff. My original plan was to visit each place to try what they had to offer. However, when I was suddenly offered a job down in Somerset, my time in Cardiff was cut short.

It was with that I decided that instead of making a guide featuring every vegan or vegan friendly business in Cardiff, it would instead showcase some of my favourites. During my spare moments I curated together the guides pages, carefully considering each element. Now finally I have a copy here in my hands, a little love letter those few plant based businesses in Cardiff, printed on a thick matte paper.

I have the greatest intention to expand on it further down the line with more businesses, but for now here is my little guide. Featuring my little characters, the familiar faces of Cariad, Deri and Gwennyn.

If you’d like to get yourself a copy of The Tiny Vegan’s Guide to Cardiff you can find it stocked at Atma Cafe, Clancy’s Vegetarian Emporium, Simply V, Nos Da Hostel & Bar and The Gate Arts Centre. They’re in limited quantity, so get there before they run out.

I will be releasing the guide online by the end of July/beginning of August. You can keep up to date by following me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

Vegan guide

Vegan guide