Made my first £500 from Freelance work!
I wrote it down as a goal of February 2019, you know, optimistically. In one of those 'put it out into the universe' kind of moments. Now I'm sitting here in March quite happy with my financial understanding of budgets, the basics of taxes, and the fact that I have three bank accounts. How did I get here?!
I remember always seeing my dad writing numbers in pencil on pieces of paper and without asking, I always knew those numbers represented money. I'd save my pocket money into the hundreds (of Jamaican Dollars) as a child and eventually, into the hundreds (of British sterling) as a teenager. I used to hide notes from myself all over my room and when it came to splashing time, I'd never really wanted to spend it. I enjoyed having it more. Saving money for the unforeseeable future was in my blood.
Not much has changed. I'd say I'm still good at it and enjoy the management of it, I just have bigger ideas of where to spend it, on holidays and printers for example, only inspiring me to make more. But really and truly how I got here is a mystery. I was never taught how to deal with money. The biggest thing I learnt from my Business GCSE was how to build a paper swan, and I fell asleep in my maths re-take (because I did well enough the first time). I had a mixed upbringing with my parents working hard to own the house I was born in, going to a private pre-school, moving to our own house in Jamaica and attending a mixture of private and public schools. Lavished in toys and being around a handful of cars and pets, I didn't really know what it all represented. To the point where even when we lost it all, I didn't miss it.
Only taking what would fit in our suitcases, clothes and essentials taking priority over toys, we boarded our plane back to London. (Well, the second one because we missed the first flight). Aside from the ugly moments, I mostly remember feeling like dad and I were just on a massive adventure. A chance to start again! We lived with family and friends until we were able to move into our own space which turned out to be a 3-made-into-4 bedroom flat shared by us and two other families. I never felt poor. I had an idea of what poor meant and compared I had all I needed and more. It was evident we weren't the worst off because even in this house, dad and I had our own bedrooms whilst the other families shared a room each. Even though I knew the difference between my quality of life before and at this time, I didn't feel like I was missing out anymore than any other kid. But I think more than most, I knew that money was important.
I had developed a keen interest to be capable of maintaining a life for myself, not relying on other people and especially not owing anybody anything I couldn't afford myself. The large amount of support I received from my grandparents after our years apart I put towards supporting this vision. I learnt to treat meaningful and useful things with respect (i.e. my laptop, my camera and my trainers), I worked my a** off for three years, and got myself back to London for uni. I was extremely lucky to have my grandparents offer to send me money every month because student loan just about covered my entire rent for the academic year, and I got a part time job waitressing. I learnt how to set up a standing order to pay my rent and how to separate my 'extra' money and my spending money with an ISA, and I was OFF!
Bla Bla Bla, life ticked on and then I was approaching the end of second year. I had already started the process to take a placement year to:
A - Have a break
B - Remember how to make art and
C - Get industry experience.
Here I was, managing on a third of the student loan, my savings, my grandparents and my low monthly income. Whilst interning, volunteering and curating exhibitions under co-founded Prgrm2ed Perception with business partner Ella Barnard. Budgeting would have just been way too complicated at this point. It was easier to focus on breaking even, enjoying life, surviving and saving where I could.
At uni I attended the majority of the EXTRA-curricular sessions about survival after uni; Creative Enterprise Week, artist talks, financial workshops etc. I learnt all about freelancing, standard life and business skills, work-life-balancing and budget sheets OUTSIDE of my course. That's right, my course curriculum at The University of the Arts, from which the majority of graduates would at some point face a freelancing or self-employment status, did not include teaching us how to manage our own business. It irritated me that I could learn such important lessons whilst other students didn't have the spare time outside of uni deadlines or their part-time job or even the knowledge that such lessons took place. Which is why I dedicated a third of my dissertation to discuss how ridiculous it is to not prioritise such learning as PART OF ANY course.
But that's for a-whole-nother conversation.
My main drive to educate myself was that I knew that independence was my only option. By this point I had no solid home to fall back on or routine to fall back into. This was the best I'd lived for the past 10 years. I was responsible for my own actions, my own survival, my own learning and decisions. I had embarked on one of the biggest learning curves of my life, to live outside of a parented household and yet, I couldn't have felt more ready. And nothing was about to make me give that up.
I knew it was possible to make a living from the arts, I knew it was possible to survive on a waitressing salary, and I always knew I wanted more than just the basics. Not diamonds and caviar extravagance but enough to be happy and maintain my self-pride. To treat myself to a new pair of trainers if I fancied it, to be able to live in a house up to my standards, to be able to say yes to most holiday opportunities. Enough to afford art-life-essentials like my Adobe subscription and a guillotine when needed, and not live on a diet of instant noodles. You know, just enough. Breaking it down made me realise that really and truly, I'm not asking an awful lot and I'm so thankful that that is the case.
So yeah, this month I earned £500 from freelance work and I'm so tearfully proud of myself for it. I fully committed myself to each short-term project, delegated time and worked efficiently. I did an art workshop with Arts Student Union at Chelsea UAL with Ella Barnard, I did Tine Bech's social media for a couple of weeks whilst her installation was up at Canary Wharf's Winter Lights Festival, and I did an unreleased design job for for coffee company, Ikawa. All jobs were through word of mouth and now I'm working on the branding and a logo for a new company teaching methods of relaxation to benefit well-being. Right up my street as a friend said.
I took part in so many different forms of creativeness that I lost track. I felt as though I shouldn't post about each one because they all varied so much and I feared inconsistency wouldn't be a good look on the gram. Well now that I think about it, whatever I did evidently worked, and why would you not share something thats working for you. It's not all about doing one thing and being good at it. It's about knowing your individual skills and capitalising on them. Understanding the value you bring and using that to meet your goals.
This blog thing might not be too bad as long as I'm passionate about the topic.
Thanks for reading,
Until next time.