Trina Dalziel’s thoughts on what’s good and not so good about being an illustrator

Good Things

I get to draw and make things and paint and design and do all the same things I’ve loved doing since I was a child.
I can work from home or a studio. I can start and stop work when I choose each day.
I can have a weekend in the middle of the week if it suits me better.
At the ideas stage of a project I can take my sketchbook to a cafe and make plans there. I can work in my garden. I can go and visit my family and take my work with me. When I’m doing the drawing or “knitting work” (repetitve straight forward bits on the computer) I can listen to the radio or story tapes (this week I’m listening to “Far from the Madding Crowd” by Thomas Hardy – something I’d never get around to sitting down and reading). If you have a job that involves writing, administration, maths etc you don’t have this opportunity to fill this free space in your brain!
I get to run my own business. I get to make my own decisions. There is always the possibility of earning more – no capped salary for the year.

Not so Good Things

It can be lonely if you work alone from home. It can also effect your self esteem – you can wonder if you are doing things the right way or the best way – which happens less if you are working along side other people. When you have lots of work on – ideas of drawing in the garden or cafes or trips during the week – go and you can end up just working and working and working for weeks. Because there is never any guarantee that there will be more work after this job – or that it will come soon. It makes planning your future harder.
Running your own business, make your own decisions as well as being rewarding and empowering can also be taxing – sometimes I feel like I’m juggling may roles – illustrator, marketing person, administrator, artworker, director – when really all I want to do is be the Illustrator!
There is always the possibilty to earn more but sometimes you don’t – you can have some good years then a not so good year. What your earn isn’t linked to how long you have worked or how how hard you have worked – this can seem really tough.
However …..I feel the good out ways the bad. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do and I don’t know what else I’d be very good at! I get excited about each new project and love planning my own work for when there is free time and when I’m working it feels so involving in a way that I don’t get with any other sort of work I’ve done.



  • this is so nice to read.

    by Tiel
    June 30, 2008
  • I really love when people give an honest evaluation of a situation. It’s seems so much more practical to present the good and not so great aspects and then to actively choose the focus on the good. I think this approach is really key in running your own business.

    September 25, 2008
  • What a great thought-summary of the freelance illustrator. Thanks for sharing, sometimes it’s good to just hear another colleague has the same experiences as you do yourself.

    October 1, 2008

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