THE ICE WEASELS & A LESSON ON FREELANCE

Being an illustrator can be a tough thing, especially one in the realm of freelance.  Clients can be difficult to work with, forgetful, demanding, absent, or my favorite; cheap.  It's frustrating when I get asked to mimic someone else style or copy an idea by a client.  Sometimes though, you work for someone who is the perfect client.  They are open to your ideas but can give direction.  They respect you as your own illustrator and hire you specifically because they like YOUR work.  

I've found that more often than not, my work thats been focused in the cycling-community has been nothing but ideal clients.  None more so than #DahWeasels.  Over the summer I had been asked to do both a single color illustration for a shirt and a poster for the Gnar Weasels as part of the Kenda Cup Series.  It was a super fun project and one of the first I was able to really play around with using Photoshop as a painters tool rather than a photo-editing tool.  

Towards the middle of the NECX season, Ice Weasels was fast approaching to mark the end of the local race calendar.  Having only been around NECX for two years, I only indulged in Ice Weasels for the first time, last year.  It was everything I expected it to be; not overly serious, a fun time, people relieving the stress of the season and generally just having fun with a whole lot of friends. I raced the SS race in a cheetah onesie and nearly overheated to death.  I was stoked to get asked to do the Ice Weasels poster this year.

The parameters were relatively simple: Feed into the upcoming Star Wars release, involve a weasel, and throw in some NECX specific inside jokes. (Droppah' Post, Khed??)  I had a teacher my first year of college named Jon Matson who did a lot of work for Magic The Gathering and in his spare time did some INSANE Star Wars fan art.  He was one of those influential teachers who made me believe I could do anything I wanted to if I put in the work.  I was channeling him for this project; trying to be purposeful with my composition and especially when I started laying in the color. 

When you create something you're proud of, people recognize that and aspiring illustrators should too.  I'm lucky in my freelance to work a lot for good people but I've certainly dealt with a few non-payments and on two occasions having my work stolen.  Don't undercut yourself.  I'm so guilty of this and as I've been getting more consistent work I've been better at setting actual boundaries.  If you're taking on freelance, do some research as to what you should be charging.  Does it make more sense to do it hourly or in one lump-sum?  Outline to your clients what you're doing for them and in what timeframe. How many rounds of edits is the client allowed before you charge them more?  

Please for the love of all that's good, If you haven't done work for a new client, draft a contract and make your clients sign it.  I'm fine giving the occasionally bro-deal or being lax about things If I know someone, but I can't count how many times I've been screwed because I've taken someone at their word and then had no paper-trail to prove their mismanagement. You can find stock contracts online that you can customize for your projects.  I hate being formal or stiff when I work with people, but I promise you will be better off for it.  If clients walk away from you after you present a contract, I guarantee there's a reason for that.  

Don't make everything about work.  Take on some fun projects that you might not otherwise do. Do some work for yourself.  Reach out to publications you like and see if they need some quick spot-illustrations.  Do a poster of Pauline Prevot riding a weasel-tauntaun.  Freelance can be hard and frustrating, but I live for those projects that I like staying up late to finish.  When you have passion for what you do, whether that be art, racing bikes, or your relationships, people will gravitate towards it and the rewards from it are so much greater.  As always, Stay Rad!


CYCLING AND ART

It's been just over a year since I started racing cyclocross.  In that year I've met so many amazing people and befriended those I consider to be my greatest peers.  My team B2C2, has grown and expanded to include Team Averica; an elite woman's squad in CX.  B2C2 has also grown to include the largest woman's roster in New England. 

Along the way I've also been trying to focus more on my illustration, both by taking on freelance but also by returning to personal work.  I feel like its been eons since I've done work for myself.  Since graduating college I feel like I haven't had a reason or venue to do personal work.  Illustration has felt more like a hobby than a career.  So in a way, it makes sense my motivation to draw started coming back to me around the time I fell into cycling. 

I started this CX season straight out of the gate.  I've been pushing myself and feel like I'm finally starting to find my own place and compete in a meaningful way.  With my success thus far I've also found myself wondering what it is I can do within the community to be more than a racer.  I look up to a lot of woman in NECX not only as rad, badass athletes, but also as voices of progress and fighters for equality.  One thing I've learned for sure is that being a woman athlete is a lot like being a woman designer.  You need to fight and expect to be given less and then fight some more.  

In my life, I think I am exceptionally good at two things: bikes and drawing.  (Maybe better at drawing than bikes, right now.) I think it's important to give back to the things you invest yourself in. I certainly wouldn't have stuck around bike racing this long had it not been for my team and the NECX community.  Even when I have bad days and feel like quitting, I know I can fall into the support of my community.  I feel the same way about art.  I've spent years feeling pretty bad about my art but every time I take on a new project, my art community is there to cheer me on and coach me through the rough parts. So why have them be mutually exclusive? 

It occurred to me over the summer that using my two greatest assets to help each other, is a pretty great way to bring awareness to both. After a mountain bike race a few months ago in which someone threw a bunch of Gu packs on the ground in front of me, I got so mad I did what I do best; I drew something.  I don't know who the litter-bug was, but I hope he saw my drawing and the hundred retweets/shares it got and felt bad about it.  I hope anyone who has ever willingly littered on a bike ride felt bad after seeing it and thinks twice before doing it again.

So this is where I'm at.  My fledgling career in bike racing is intersecting with what feels like my still-fledgling career in illustration.  I'm hoping with a lot of hard work and determination, as I grow with one love, the other grows with it.  We have so many strong voices in woman's cycling here in NECX and beyond, I can only hope that putting some illustrations alongside those voices can be meaningful.  At the very least, I hope some of my Monsters can brighten up our cold New England cross season. 

FOR ALL YOU CYNICS OUT THERE

While I sit here reveling in this years Valentines day (also post celebration of my birthday) I know from past experience that tomorrow is not always a day to for roses and kisses and gushing.  For those of you who don't subscribe to the barf-enducing chocolates and cards, have this print of some real-talk hearts.  Use it for a print or a wallpaper or whatever you fancy.  Just don't use it on products.  If I find out you're making money off my adorable generosity, I'll find you. <3

Bugs and Fishes,

-Alex

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HOLIDAY SALE UNTIL CHRISTMAS!

I've got some cute new additions to the store for the holidays!  Head on over and check out a new mini-postcard of my favorite ALLEZ monster!  There is also a set of holiday gift tags as well as the option to purchase the RIDE OR DIE print in an 8x10 digital print.  

use the code HOLIDAYZ to receive 10% off your whole purchase until Christmas.  I will also be throwing in a set of the holiday tags with any purchase of a pack of postcards.  Doesn't matter which ones.  

http://alexcarlsonillustration.bigcartel.com/products

Yay!


SKULLBASH + FREE SHIPPING!

With the holidays coming up, i'm letting down the shops hair and running two specials, just for this week!  

FREE SHIPPING has been extended until wednesday the 12th!  Use the code SHIPIT at checkout to reap the benefits.  

My CAN'T STOP lino print is also 50% off!  And thats ridiculous.  $20 for a hand cut and hand inked 20x26inch print.  Use the code SKULLBASH to receive that discount.

http://alexcarlsonillustration.bigcartel.com/product/cant-stop

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Happy shopping ya'll!  check back for more posts soon.