Nowadays, if you can get online, you can be an “illustrator,” “cartoonist,” or “designer.” If you disagree with that statement, check out deviantArt for five minutes and get back to me. Sure, most wouldn’t be considered these things by traditional definitions, but a cartoonist is, technically, “one who makes cartoons.” The same applies to the illustrator and designer; the writer and content creator: the product may be crap, but it is a product nonetheless.
Even though I’ve been making comics for years, I took a look around to see what I could find about being an “online” or freelance illustrator/designer, or digital artist in general. Here are the top 5 blogs (in no particular order) that I found:
1. The Oatmeal
If you haven’t heard of the Oatmeal, you haven’t been internetting long enough. There are comics about being fat, comics about your cat, visual narratives about technology, visual narratives about stupidity. If you like any of these things, then congratulations! You’re a part of the Oatmeal’s target audience.
While the Oatmeal touches on nearly every aspect of life at one point or another, my favorite posts are about creative endeavors and the ever-present “client from hell” (see number 5 below). These particular comics seek to shed light on terrible clients and situations in the freelancing world, and how to avoid, recognize, and/or react to them when (not if) they occur to you.
Also poop jokes and cheesy brand names. Those always win in my book.
Randy Glasbergen, a frequently published cartoonist, heads up this comic buffet with a comic or two on almost any and every subject you could think of. Alongside these gag-a-day styled strips, he offers practical advice for those kids who draw cartoons all day. If you’re a cartoonist or are interested in the prospect, well, here ya go. Have at it.
Want a blog that provides practical, real-world advice and practices that can advance your creative freelance career? Then Work Made for Hire is what you’ve been looking for. Every post contains a level of professionalism rarely found online and speaks from the perspective of a creative veteran and attorney who wants nothing more than to help others in their creative endeavors.
Stuck in a rut or just want some artistic inspiration? The Design Blog’s got you covered. With content gathered from all around the globe, it updates every day with a “focus on young designers and students.” It’s hard to not find something that stimulates that creative gerbil monster in your head that tells you how to make cool stuff. I’ll definitely be coming back here from time to time whenever the muse decides to take a bathroom break.
One of my all-time favorite places on the internet, Clients From Hell details story after story, case after case, of, you guessed it, clients from hell. Whether it be trying to skip out on paying, refusing to accept correction, or just plain stupidity, this site truly has all you need to both laugh until you cry and weep for the future of humanity on one page. Also, it serves as a warning and a training seminar for prospective freelancers where they can learn about the “joys” of their new career.
Although these blogs show a lot of the downsides to the freelancing profession, there really isn’t all that much about the positives. Sure, the Oatmeal has several pros and cons lists where the pros arguably outweigh the cons, and Glasberben shows ways that it can be enriching, but I had a hard time finding “success” stories about wonderful or delightful clients or experiences other than “Hey cool, some money! I can afford my ramen this month,” or “This is a lot of fun.”
Alongside not seeing much about good clients and jobs, there also seems to be a particularly lacking discourse about the everyday life of the freelancer or online creative. Highlights of eventful days are touched on in the Oatmeal and in Glasbergen, but what about the days where nothing profound happens? What about the little things that happen that may or may not warrant an entire blog post, comic, or cartoon about them? The fine print they don’t tell you about?
That’d be a nice thing to see.