In 2008 when I launched my illustration business, if you had told me that in 2014 I would illustrate for Google, I would said that Google already has a full time doodler, thank you very much. But today – as a full-time, self-employed creative, I know that kind of short-sighted, fearful thinking doesn’t serve creativity. Creativity needs abundance, and abundance shows up in how we build our networks.
Here’s why I believe in abundance. The world needs visuals – good ones. And we also need creative, thoughtful people to create visuals. And we need to stick together – so we can learn from each other, grow, and push ourselves to put out better and better work. Which creates demand for better work, and more people can join in – and our message reaches further.
Secondly, creativity is about sharing. Part of creating abundance is building my own skills and sharing them with clients through projects. Teaching creates abundance too. But here’s a little-known place where abundance can show up: reaching out and connecting to others in the field. I used to think networking was about promotion or awkward small talk. But it’s actually about genuine engagement with people – online this could be commenting and supporting their visual work. Making e-introductions. Sharing a helpful tip. A behind the scenes look at your process. In person, it could be helping people make connections to someone else in your network, not just to you. I love finding people jobs – I have a superspidey sense for seeing job postings and remembering who’s looking for work. Or hosting an event (I’m looking at you, Vancouver visual practitioners – see you in January!)
So how did I end up working with Google? The power of connections. Google is a regular client of a colleague who lives 1500km away. She offered me the opportunity when she was unable to make it. I don’t see this as being in the right place at the right time. It’s the longer view of fostering creativity. It’s maintaining relationships, how you show up, and having a reputation for being a team player – so people feel confident in connecting you.