Interview with Taaryn Brench – freelance illustrator


Posted by wpengine in Business

Taaryn Brench is a freelance illustrator whose bold and playful illustrations stem from her love of bright colours and simple shapes. She's agreed to give us a unique insight into life as a creative freelancer.

Tell us about yourself and what you do?

I’m an illustrator and I work mostly in editorial and design. I’m also a part-time graphic designer for an agency where I get to work on a wide variety of projects across print, branding, packaging and animation.

Describe a typical day in your life – what do you get up to?

I don’t usually start until 11am, I find it so difficult to get anything done in the morning, so I prefer to start and finish late. I spend the morning doing gardening or getting out for a walk before sitting down at my desk to get through emails and planning my schedule. I like to save the afternoons for creative work where I cut out each element of an illustration from paper and add detail with pencil or paint. I then scan everything in and spend a bit of time on the computer to compile it all together.

What motivated you to become a freelance illustrator? What did you do before?

I was working in marketing and client services before I retrained in graphic design. I didn’t realise illustration was a thing until I was studying on my course and discovered a few artists whose work overlapped design and illustration. I couldn’t quite believe you could get paid for drawing pictures! In house illustration jobs are quite rare because of the nature of the job and how commissioning works so most illustrators are freelance.

How do you usually go about winning new clients?

The majority of my work comes through social media, mostly Twitter and Instagram. It also pays to make time for personal work and shout about it, I recently landed a weekly gig illustrating maps for a magazine after the art director saw a map I created to fill a gap in my portfolio.

Have you ever used, or considered using co-working spaces? If yes, what was/is the appeal for you?

I haven’t but I would definitely consider it. Even though I’m a massive introvert, spending too many consecutive days working from home doesn’t do my mental health any favours. I also find it really hard to separate work and home when it’s all under the same roof.

Are you currently working on any side projects?

Always! I’m currently crafting a promotional mailer to send out to clients I want to work with. And I’m also writing an eBook on the business side of freelancing.

What would you say is the most rewarding part of working in a creative field?

I love that there’s always something new to learn, I’m constantly making time to experiment with different techniques that I can add to my work. Also, seeing your final work in print is always a great feeling!

What about the most challenging?

Standing up for yourself against big companies. It can be intimidating sometimes when you’re negotiating fees and contract terms when you’re on your own. Things like spec work, unpaid invoices, copyright issues and low budgets are really common in this industry and it gets difficult to make this a viable career.

How do you maintain a healthy work/life balance?

I still haven't quite figured this one out yet! I used to suffer a lot with burnout, and I wouldn't realise I was heading that way before it was too late. I'm a lot better now at recognising the signs and I'll make a conscious effort to step away from my work to clear my head. This usually involves getting outdoors for the day or mark-making with paints and collage. Then when I get back to work I feel a lot better and able to crack on.

What continues to motivate or inspire you about the field of work you’re in?

I really love seeing the work of fellow illustrators and getting an insight into how they work and their processes. Also, the illustration community is incredibly helpful and friendly. When you’re having a hard time, there’s always someone who’s willing to help you out and give you a leg up.

What advice would you give to someone considering a similar change of direction?

Get savvy with business. You might be doing a creative job but if you want to be a freelancer, you’ll be spending a lot of your time on accounting, marketing and client services. And don’t be in a rush to quit your day job. Illustration is a notoriously difficult industry to make a full time living from and it takes years to get consistent work. So a part-time job to cover the bills will definitely ease the pressure when you’re starting out.

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You can check out Taaryn's work, here.