It seems every month or two I get an e-mail from an eager young artist who would like some tips on getting started as a freelancer. I’m happy to give a little advice and encouragement when I can, but there is just too much information to pass on in one quick e-mail. Besides, a lot of people have written excellent books that say it all much better than I ever could. So my advice is to read, read, read. Absorb as much as you can before starting out on your own. Why make your own mistakes when you can learn so much from the experience of others?
Here’s a few books every aspiring freelancer should read. Click on the image or title to order the book from Amazon.com:
Starting Your Career as a Freelance Illustrator or Graphic Designer (Revised Edition) by Micheal Fleishman
The author does a terrific job of laying out the basics.
The Business of Illustration by Steven Heller and Teresa Fernandes
Insights and interviews on making it as a freelancer.
2005 Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market
This book gives you the contact information for over 2,000 companies that hire freelancers (updated yearly). Or, if you want a really big mailing list check out www.adbase.com.
The Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines (11th Edition)
Quick and easy charts to help you figure out what you should charge. Also a lot of good info on writing contracts and dealing with legal issues.
The Graphic Designer’s and Illustrator’s Guide to Marketing and Promotion by Maria Piscopo
This is probably the best book I have ever read on marketing yourself as a freelancer.
Legal Guide for the Visual Artist by Tad Crawford
Detailed info on issues such as copyright, contracts, taxes, etc.
Business and Legal Forms for Illustrators by Tad Crawford
Comes with a CD. You can copy the sample contracts in this book, modify them (or leave as is), and then slap your logo on them to make them your own.