Local Gem: Laura Lewis
We love our girl Laura Lewis. She's an illustrator on a mission of self-love, whose use of poppy pastels, self-portraits and cartoon-style copy complements her sense of humor. As a full-time freelance artist, we sat down with Laura Lewis for some helpful tips on networking and becoming your own boss.
Q: What inspired you to start your business? Did you have any role models or learn from someone, in particular?
A: Freelance art started as a way for me to make some extra cash while I was working at a part-time job, and I’ve been slowly building my business ever since. After seeing so many friends and peers find success in making money with their art, I finally said, "Well, I have this marketable skill. How can I make money with this." It’s still a work in progress, but I’m inspired by my friends and fellow artists everyday.
Q: Do you have any tidbits of advice for people with passions, in general?
A: Get on Twitter. I don’t know why I fought it for so long! Social media makes it easier than ever to network and make connections, and I have been able to make friends with creators I’ve followed and admired for years.
The amazing thing about Twitter is that you can find the people that inspire you, and most of the artists/musicians/comedians/whatever that you look up to that are creating content today, especially young creators and peers, are already on there. With a simple 140-character tweet, you can chat with your favorite creators and build a network of people you admire. Finding a community of people online who are passionate about the same things, and who inspire you to always be better is so important for freelancers and creators these days—especially if you have any kind of creative passion or online business. I’m always floored when I can simply tweet to an artist I like and say, “Hey, I’m in LA this week, want to grab beers?”
It seriously makes it easier than ever to network.
Q: What have been your favorite moments of creativity?
A: They happen all the time! Sometimes in big ways, but usually they are small and often. I like to carry around a small notebook with me at all times, so I can write down whenever I get an idea or an image in my head, especially because I’m really forgetful. I find that if I warmup with a sketch or drawing that I’ve had in mind before I start my workday my creative flow seems more natural and less forced.
Q: What have been your most challenging moments in your career, thus far?
A: I’ve done tests for storyboarding jobs at studios and comic jobs that I didn’t get, and I’ve had a lot of job rejection this year. I’ve had feedback from companies that have said “Well we love your work, we wouldn’t change a thing,” but I still don’t get the job. Not getting discouraged from these rejections has easily been the biggest challenge. Get rejected! Get rejected a bunch!! Get discouraged! Pick yourself back up!
Building a steady client base has also been a key component that still challenges me. I love drawing and illustrating, but the business side doesn’t come as easily to me, and trying to find a balance between both can be tricky sometimes.
Q: What's your day job (if this business isn't your day job)?
A: I currently do freelance illustration full-time.
Q: When you're discouraged, what do you run to or away from?
A: I’ve been in the habit lately of running to myself when I’m discouraged. The only way to truly push through discouragement is to find your own source of strength and inspiration! Which isn’t always easy. Sometimes getting my mind off the source of whatever is discouraging me for a few days is super necessary to restore balance and determination.
Your favorite band at the moment: Yellow Magic Orchestra, Dead Recipe, Micachu & the Shapes
Your favorite book at the moment: "Starting Point," a collection of essays and interviews by Hayao Miyazaki
Your local Austin gem (can be a product, place, etc.): @catchtilly