I recently have started playing a new game.
The game is called “Quit-My-Full-Time-Job-and-Jump-Into-the-Abyss”. The central part of the game involves me freelancing as a creative professional for a living. It is filled with ups and downs, successes and failure, and plenty of potential risk and reward. There is also a lot that can be unknown, hence that “abyss” part.
Abysses are scary. After all, who would like what they can’t pin down, and where the wrong step could send you off a cliff you would be unable to recover from? That sounds a little like insanity if I am being honest. But if I am a little more honest, I think that equally a hint of insanity can be a necessary catalyst for bringing about beauty.
I am jumping off a cliff. I have left my stable full-time job as a Lead Web Developer at a marketing communications company where I worked for the last five and a half years doing respectable, creative work, to do a bit more.
To try something I haven’t done yet.
To get somewhere I have never journeyed.
To tell a story with a bit more beauty.
Really, I think that is what attracts me to design. Sometimes when I am working in Illustrator, or coding away in my text editor, trying to bring this big idea of a website that started out as a little seed planted in a sitemap into fruition, I feel it. I am bringing something beautiful into the world. The creative process is more than simply copying what is trendy, or going with the flow, but ideally is always about the push for more. It should be, at the fundamental core, about an endeavor to take a risk, apply a little bit of controlled insanity in such a way that beauty and creativity can flourish.
After all, every creative endeavor whether commercial or personal is a risk. A website implemented from a template with little to no creative or brand consultation is taking just as much risk as a custom site built with some wackadoo creative navigational concept, just in a different way. Personally, I would rather my insanity and risk be funneled toward the potential for beauty.
But, it can be difficult as a freelancer with high ideals to actually execute upon those ideals at all times… Deadlines come, and dishes pile up in the sink, and clients don’t always understand the budgetary importance of searching for “beauty”. Finding ideal clients for myself which value the type of creative mindset and envelope pushing as I am after is very difficult, but not impossible.
I have recently invested myself into a potential source of work that I believe will propel in a direction where I will be more free to create and grow. I am currently interviewing for a freelancing service called Toptal in the “Visual Designers group” which has a very forward focus on high-end work, quality of referrals, and exceptionalism in those which they hire. (3%…that sounds like just the jump into the abyss I am looking for!)
There are a number of freelancing services I have looked into out there, some of them good, other not so good. Most place the value of the dollar a little bit too far above the value of the journey. However, I feel good about this one. A small exclusive talent pool ensures not only accountability for creative excellence, but a lot of room for professional growth and community. Additionally, Toptal’s process appears to be all about matching qualified experts with qualified projects and clients. This means that the work that would potentially be available wouldn’t just be another meaningless task – but a creative endeavor which the client is placing value in.
I will find out shortly if my journey will end or continue along this avenue shortly. I am taking a small jump here, and hoping that the risk will pay off in the form of me being able to do excellently what I love for people that will appreciate it.
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