Finance & Illustration: My First Year of Freelancing

Finance & Illustration: My First Year of Freelancing

In this post: a summary of my finances as a first year full-time freelancer, sample expenses, resources, and thoughts on money.


My goals for freelancing as an artist are to support myself, invest in education, and support others working in important fields or causes. To get there, it's crucial that I have a good grasp of my finances. When I started illustrating full-time in the beginning of 2017, I promised myself that I would keep good records of my finances, so that I'd be able to look back at the year and assess how it went.

This post is a reflection on my experience, and I hope it will be insightful to anyone looking to understand the business side of freelancing as an illustrator and creative worker. I owe my thanks to all the illustrators who blogged or created resources on being a freelancer, and to those who gave feedback on this post (thanks Winnie and Allie!).

The content caters to both an international and a Malaysian audience. Prices are given in their original amounts, with accompanying conversions.

Context and caveats: I illustrated part-time for a few years while I held a full-time job, resulting in my being able to build up a decent buffer of savings. This allowed me to make certain purchases that I wouldn't consider were I fresh out of school or in dire financial need. It also bears mentioning that I do not have dependents to support, so I am in a very different situation compared to a parent or a caretaker. I live somewhere with a mid-range cost of living: not a big city, but not a rural town either.

Akan datang: rumusan dalam Bahasa Malaysia untuk setiap diagram dan bahagian.

FAQs on illustration / Soal jawab tentang ilustrasi

FAQs on illustration / Soal jawab tentang ilustrasi

I've answered the following questions in a general sense, but also tried to cater some of the responses specifically towards the Malaysian scene, since there are plenty of illustrator FAQs written from an American/UK perspective already.  Thanks to Mursyiddah Johari for sending me the questions, and helping to write the Malay translation!

Jawapan ringkas dalam Bahasa Malaysia dipaparkan dalam font italic di bawah. Saya telah cuba menjawab dari segi ilustrasi secara am, serta kondisi spesifik industri kreatif di Malaysia yang masih muda lagi. Terima kasih kepada Mursyiddah Johari kerana menghantar saya soalan-soalan berikut, dan membantu menterjemahkan teks ke dalam Bahasa Malaysia.


1. Any good advice for young illustrators? / Nasihat untuk ilustrator muda?