This month in celebration of ‘The Artists’, we thought we’d chat to Emma Block to find out what it takes to run a successful creative business.
Emma Block is a multidisciplinary illustrator living in London, working across editorial illustration, publishing, packaging and branding. She graduated from Middlesex University with a First Class Honours in Illustration and has gone on to work with a whole host of incredible brands including Anthropologie, Oasis and Stylist Magazine to name just a few. She is well known for her distinctive style and is inspired by the people she meets in her everyday life, old photos, vintage clothes, old films, travel, 1950s illustration, 1930s jazz and sausage dogs. From her 15 minute portrait sessions, to her book illustrations and sell out workshops – it seems no one can get enough of Emma and we can understand why!
Value yourself – If you don’t nobody else will! When I first started illustrating I completely undercharged, and I think it’s something that every artist and Illustrator does when you start out. Confidence and charging what you are worth go hand-in-hand, so make sure you value yourself and the work that you do. Don’t buy into the ‘starving artist’ myth. For a while I told myself that I was lucky to be doing what I love for a living so it didn’t matter but I wasn’t making much money. That attitude will stop you from ever earning much money; if you don’t expect to be paid well then you won’t. When I realised that I worked very hard and that my work was of value and I had every right to be paid well for what I did, I started asking for more money and getting it.
Trust your instincts – I have learnt again and again to always trust my instincts. So many times when something hasn’t felt right a project has gone wrong or things haven’t worked out. Trust your instincts about what is a good opportunity and who are the right people to work with. When I first started freelancing I assumed that every opportunity was a good opportunity but sometimes that just isn’t case. In fact any email that starts with the word ‘great opportunity’ is usually a request for you to work for free! One of the things I love about freelancing is that I don’t have to say yes to everything. The more my career develops the more I have the freedom to say no and to only do the jobs I really want to do.
Take a risk and make things happen – I’ve been very lucky that some incredible opportunities have come my way, but I’ve also learnt that I can’t just sit around waiting for my dream job to come along. I’ve got to go out and make things happen myself. I find it so scary putting myself forward for things and contacting people, but when it all works out and I secure the project of my dreams it’s the best feeling ever. Putting yourself out there can mean blogging, updating social media regularly, emailing at directors and editors or doing mail outs. It’s important to find what works for you.
Couldn’t agree more with Emma’s insights and I love how openly she has shared. It just shows you, we all have lessons for each other, even if we don’t think it. It’s true.