Something you may, or may not, know about me is my love of cycling.
If you didn’t know, you may have guessed from the number of cycling/bike related pieces in my portfolio.
Getting out on the bike has been an essential part of my routine. It keeps me sane. Anyone who has worked as a freelance illustrator for any period of time can surely attest to the hermit-like lifestyle that comes with the job title. Especially as deadlines loom, things like going outside, leaving your drawing table, sometimes even looking in the mirror, can seem like non-essential processes. As ‘The Work’ consumes all, skin pigment becomes paler and paler and the concept of night and day becomes becomes irrelevant, there’s a real risk of loosing yourself.
Become ink, paint, paper. Cease to exist.
In those moments, only an external interest can pull you out of the india ink black depths.
I exaggerate, of course. But, it is true that illustrators (and most likely other people who do what they do because they love it, and can see no other option) are at risk of overworking, over committing. What we do is a passion, and it seems the obvious choice to throw yourself wholeheartedly into ‘The Work.’
I learned this the hard way, and would now give this advise to anyone aiming to make a living from illustration:
Find another passion.
I don’t mean give up. Quite the contrary. Having another love, obsession, set of goals, separate to “making it” as an illustrator can help you gain perspective and focus. Rather than having to force yourself away from the drawing table, You’ll want to get out and do something else. This will be beneficial for your work, as well as your self.
For me, that other passion is cycling. It gets me, not just away from my desk, but out of my studio and into the real world. It’s space to focus on the route I’m riding, the effort I’m putting in, the gear choices I’m making. The noise of the trees around me, The hum of tyres on tarmac, my breath. No questions on weather this piece is right, how I could have constructed a better composition, how much I have to do before those 3 deadlines looming over next week.
Coming back after a ride is like a fresh start. A fresh start I can instigate at any time by getting on my kit, getting on my bike and getting out of the door. Plus some sun on your skin is very good for you I hear!
Every so often I get the chance to combine these two passions. The lovely folks at Canadian Cycling Magazine have commissioned me for several lovely articles over the last few years. And it’s always a pleasure. So here’s a few pieces that I haven’t previously shared, along with some pieces for their sister mag Canadian Running Magazine!
Art Direction from Dianne Kapral and Matt Stetson