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Moving in a conscientious direction

Updated: Sep 19, 2023

Honestly, being a freelancer is hard - as well as being the designer, I'm also the book keeper, the marketing manager, the salesperson, the blog post writer, the social media manager, the list goes on and on. Most of those roles just aren't me, I procrastinate, get anxious and feel like an imposter. Even writing this now feels so exposing, but I know many creatives who feel this way, we just don't say it out loud because it'll harm our business.... but I'm done with hiding, I think it's time we all just stopped the BS, and started supporting one another.

Last weekend I made a coffee, sat in my dark living room - the curtains keeping out the 35ºC heat - and started reading The Art of Possible by Kate Tojeiro. For the last few years I have been struggling to find my direction, my purpose and this book has been on my shelf, waiting for me to have the courage to pick it up and unlock my potential. I've followed the same business strategy for years, have some dreams, get a bit excited about them - not too much though in case it all falls through, get to the starting gate, feel the anxiety building and then the dreams come crashing down and I flounder around looking for breadcrumbs of work from anywhere. Rinse and repeat.

But I've had enough - it's time to take control of the rest of my life, with purpose, confidence and joy. After 3 hours, I had the start of a plan! I felt aligned, excited, nervous and I was smiling. The exercises in the book didn't really unlock a great mystery, they cast a massive spotlight on something that has been gently bubbling along in the dark for a long time - something that, now it's in the open - seems so bloody obvious.

In the mid 1980s, starting with the threat of nuclear war, then the Chernobyl disaster, I felt a strong connection with Earth, specifically the impact we were having on the planet and nature. With each passing year and the drip feed of information highlighting how much damage we were doing, like many people, I adapted and became more conscientious. I stopped eating meat, I began recycling, stopped using hairspray, whatever I felt could help, even on a small scale. Now, 35 years later in the midst of an energy crisis, we sit with one light on at night, wash clothes on a cold Eco cycle and water the garden with grey water. Come winter time, I'll be working in fingerless gloves, rationing the heating and wrapped up in blankets. I do as much as I can on a personal level but what about as a graphic designer and illustrator?

I run my Mac with the screen dimmed, volume down and energy saving mode on. I close programmes I'm not using and I power down my Mac each night. During this sweltering summer I haven't used a fan, I have kept the windows and curtains shut and worked in the dark. When our old car died, we bit the bullet and went electric. When I opened my Etsy shop 3 years ago, I sourced biodegradable bags for my greeting cards and art prints, as well as recycled/recyclable envelopes and recycled tissue paper. I download my postage labels, only printing the part I need and use plastic-free tape seal the package. I'm sure there are things I could do to improve my everyday working patterns - any suggestions would be greatly received.

illustration of tropical fish, an octopus and sea horse swimming amongst toothbrushes, plastic bags, plastic bottles, old fishing nets and micro plastics.

In terms of who I want to work with now, it took a while, but finally I have a mission statement that excites me and feels truly aligned to my soul...

To create designs and illustrations, with integrity and purpose for brands committed to sustainable, social and environmental change.

It feels great to know where I am going, I'm not sure what the journey will be like, but I'm thrilled to be moving in the right direction.

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