Content Note: Discussion of businesses and freelancing, self-esteem and arrogance, comparing yourself to other artists.
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
I met my brother for coffee yesterday. Like me, he’s a creative, an actor/writer aspiring to be a showrunner and currently producing a short film. During our chat the topic moved onto my own concerns about my art and my freelancing, and I wanted to share some of those thoughts here.
Freelancing requires self-confidence – no, arrogance. Freelancing is running a business with you as the product. A typical business is hard enough, attempting to sell the product before you to the customer by bigging up its qualities; when the product is you that becomes even more difficult. Toeing the line between asserting your own qualities and coming off as arrogant seems like a minefield – particularly if (like myself) you suffer from self-esteem issues.
My brother raised a point he’d learnt through acting – that being a little arrogant is a good thing. Arrogance is usually portrayed as something negative; ironically, it’s also something that the bigwigs in our society thrive on.
Freelancing can be like jobseeking, only instead of seeking out a job once every few years (if that), it’s every few weeks, every few months. Tracking down people to hire you, pitching yourself at them, and waiting anxiously to hear back.
It’s easy to fall into the comparison trap, to wonder “Why would someone hire me when they could hire that person instead, who is so much better an artist than me?” It may be cheesy, but your art is entirely unique, since every individual is unique. That’s what someone hires – the entire package of you, and your unique expression through artwork. No one can replicate that, short of directly tracing your artwork or ripping it off in some way.
That’s what we need to be confident about; that no one else can do what you do, even if it may not be the most technically skilled on the market. There’s so much more that goes into hiring someone than just their technical ability, after all – location, personability, genre and style, the topics you explore, your connections, and so on. The list is a long one.
That’s something I need to learn.