How I went from self-taught doodler to Google illustrator in my twenties
Pete, my office manager, cackled on the phone to one of our clients.
The vein on my neck throbbed harder.
‘I’m never working in an office again,’ I thought.
In my early twenties, I worked in an office as a property magazine researcher.
I knew that life wasn’t for me.
I just felt restricted and needed more of a sense of autonomy and creative expression.
I had been developing a portfolio of designs online for a few months, hustling on the side, looking to make online income from selling my designs.
All self-taught. All from lessons I learned on YouTube.
I made a few hundred bucks a month from that.
Soon after, I landed my first illustration client on Elance — with The Singapore Business Times newspaper.
That was all the validation I needed to ditch the job and go it alone.
So, at 24 years old, I did.
I’m now 38. I haven’t worked in an office since.
I’ve been making money with my skills on the Internet for 15 years.
No sane person would have suggested I go fully freelance without 6 months worth of savings.
I had more like 6 days.
But the yearning to break free was that strong.
I was forced to figure it all out as I went along.
No boss. No colleagues. Not even my family really understood what I was doing
The journey was not smooth by any means. I had many months where I was close to the red line and had to get creative about making money.
I had anxiety and avoided talking to clients.
Four years later, I was working for clients like the BBC, Wired Magazine, and Mars.
Google even asked to work with me.
And so I did.
Today, I don’t do much design work.
I teach what I know, but the same life philosophy that served me in those earlier years serves me today.