Nah, nah, naaaah, nah, naaaah…That’s sort of how the song goes, no?
I’ve been humming that tune lately since, yes, I am now a nine to fiver. Well, I’m not a true office robot yet, but for at least 3 days of the week, I work as the in-house illustrator and animator up here in Iqaluit for Inhabit Media, and their sister animation company, Taqqut Productions. Landing a job like that is not exactly common-place for an illustrator, and the odds of it happening here in Iqaluit are ridiculously low. So when one of the owners decided to take the plunge working full-time running the two companies, he asked if I’d like to jump on board as well. I said yes, and I haven’t looked back yet.
I’ve been self-employed either as a carpenter or as an illustrator for close to 10 years, and believe me when I say that time has a crazy habit of just slipping by when you’re in control of your hours. One second you’re looking up reference to figure out how to draw a flying pink polar bear, and then you notice that two hours have gone by…watching how to hand-cut dovetails. I don’t even know how it happens, but I think my computer has a few keyboard shortcuts that take me to places lurking in my subconscious, and my keyboard here in my studiop (half studio/half woodwhop) seems to be missing that “get to work” button that the one at work has. Funny that. So not only has working at a different location than my studiop boosted my productivity through the roof, but another very strange thing has started to happen that I had forgotten existed: a regular paycheque. Every two weeks, this magical little pay stub appears, and I’m a few bucks richer. Every two weeks. Crazy nuts. Now if you’ve ever been in the freelance world, you understand when I say that months can go by before you get paid for a job. There’s something very strange in the illustration world especially that demands the artist work their ass off to a tight deadline, while the client can take an eternity to pay. If only I ruled the art world with the same iron fist as North Korea…I’d take as long to give a final as the client takes to pay me. So now, if I’m not going to be paid for a while, I’m definitely only going to take jobs that are fun and interesting. Illustration should tickle the artist’s brain as much as it does for the viewer.
But perhaps the biggest change I’ve noticed after beginning this new job is how much more time I have to myself, unhindered by the nagging feeling that I should be drawing or painting. I work my ass off during the day, and all of a sudden nights and weekends are mine. For me, illustration can easily be a huge, hungry monster that gladly eats up my brain, so trying to contain it to 8 hours a day leaves me some much needed down time. The work I’m doing now during those hours is as every much mentally demanding, but now that monster is kept at bay. At least mostly, anyway. I’m still juggling a lot of freelance work, so that can bleed over into nights and weekends, but I’m trying to contain that work and only draw in my studiop during regular hours.
So for now, I’m loving this new nine to five thing, and the reason I haven’t posted a word in over two months is that all artwork I’ve done is under non-disclosure agreements. Any extra time I have has been making shavings…oh, and since I have a lot of requests to show what my studiop looks like, here are a couple pics of what a City boy who moves to the Arctic can make of a shipping container. The first one shows where I draw using my iMac and large Intuos5 (have I mentioned how much I love my Intuos? I sold my large 24HD Cintiq since I hadn’t used it for a couple months, and I’m rarely looking back.) The other one is the studiop from the opposing angle. It’s a little cramped to do woodworking and painting all within a 7’x18′ space, but you’d be surprised how a little organization can make any small space work.
Illustrator Jonathan Wright