5 Steps to become a organized and successful illustrator.

For those who are visiting my blog for the first time, I am CAVUM. An Illustrative Designer from the Netherlands who started his freelance life the first of January this year(2017) and I invited you all on my journey to succes.
I kicked off pretty hopeful but things are not really got any better in the summer months. Not really a surprise since festivals are all kicking and bands are on tour so I guess that is why I don't have any big project going at this moment. Therefore the conclusion after these poor months is: I have to figure out projects for this period. Festivals in the winter, book covers, and so on, and so forth.
But in illustration there is only one rule, where I strictly believe in. 

Me with a Coca Cola can with not only the name of the city Verona
but also the same name as the coffee-maker at high school 

You can only sabotage yourself.

And that is what I feel like I am doing at the moment by living a life without structure and not being the manager of my business to the fullest. Yeah, Illustration is not just about fun and drawing, there is a managing side to it and promotional and social and so many more beautiful things we can, and have to do! So for the next few weeks or maybe even months I am going to write about bringing more structure in my life to make my life more productive AND more healthy and joyful.

So who is in for a change and try to make things more productive and easy and therefore more successful!

Things have to change.

The first thing I have to do change is my day and night rhythm and structure. Because of some really bad circumstances in my social life I lost every form of structure and also the lack of projects were not a good way to keep my sh*t together. Here I have to change things since this is where I was talking about. Here I am sabotaging myself by not doing anything about it. No one is going to care about your social life, relationship status or if you are happy enough to make artwork. They only see the fact that you are not posting things online and/or replying fast to their emails or other messages.

Since I kind of fucked up a lot already it is time to clean up the mess. I can do great things but I need to work from a base build from structure and discipline to keep everything up. Art is not something you can take easy. It is a hobby or it is your job. When it is your job you should take it extremely serious. Your audience is not going to show you any mercy, your clients are relentless and your own happiness is at stake. So let's clean up the mess and make sure you pay attention so you are not going to make the mistakes I made or maybe you can learn something from it.

Step 1, baby steps into a organized life.

You can't change the world overnight. That is one thing for sure. But you have to change your world so I am going to try to do this as fast as possible. The first step is organize your bloody life.

First things first. I am a messy person. I don't know why but I am having a lot of trouble keeping things clean and put any structure in everything. I know many of you don't have any problem keeping things clean, with your white desk and walls and little paintings on the wall with exactly the same amount of space in between them. Well I think there are two kinds of illustrators/artists and I am not the clean structured one. Funny thing you can see it in our drawings too. The clean lined minimal drawings or beautiful painted children books or cityscapes are mostly made by the extremely organized artists while te rough landscapes and busy chaotic drawings are made by the messy ones. 
The messy start

So this is for us messy, hoarding, chaotic carbon based lifeforms. I don't think I am lying when I say you are always struggling to get things in place both on paper as in your life. We miss things, we forget things, we are thinking while we are drawing and we have trouble to focus on the main thing we should draw. We are taming our own lives and our artwork. In my opinion this results in interesting drawings where we can find a lot of elements of our personal life and/or our view on things. Even when we are drawing for clients!
But this does not mean that we can just stay in this mess or give in to our disorganized ever going fantasy and creative flow.
The first thing we have to do is cleaning up our workspace. This does not mean we have to be like our clean colleagues! Don't throw everything away you love! But give it a well thought place in your life. There is nothing wrong with filling your life with things that inspire you but you should have the chance to look at it.
Have you ever been at an exhibition where the walls are filled with all kinds of artwork and alle the pieces are very close to each other? You probably hated the exhibition and you didn't remember a single painting or sculpture.  so here is what I did, I bought shelves and putted the things I use together on the bottom one and the thing I like to see on the one above 

It sounds pretty stupid to clean up your workspace but it is the start of cleaning up your mind. You don't have to worry about anything around you. you don't have to look for pencils or brushes or ink or whatever. It just is there where it should be so you can continue your work without any distractions.

Step 2. New structure in your day.

When you start your day be sure you did every single shitty thing you should do that day. Cleaning out the dishwasher, answer emails, doing your social media messages, call your parents for that visit you should do this weekend, pay the bills and whatever you should do. It doesn't matter how little or unimportant it is, just do it. It takes some time to do it but it improves everything so damn much. No more "oh crap I still have to do this or that." These are all interruptions in your day where you should focus on one thing only: ART.
In the final step I will come back to this but that is about the end of drawing spree.

You probably have experienced many times that you can work better at a other place. I know artists who like to work at a coffee bar or at a atelier outside their homes. That is because they want to get away from their everyday life at home. You can't do the dishes or cook your meals or be confronted with another personal situation at that point. I am not privileged with that kind of luxury since I work at home. I like that because I don't want to be bothered by and with other people. I like the fact that I can work with people without more communication than necessary on the project. Also, I am not the most social human being alive. I like to see people so now and then but it drains me to be around a lot of other people so being at home is nice but it has its dangerous things like your own life.
What I do have is my atelier separated from my personal life. I don't work in my living room all because the chair I usually sit in is to relax. When you work where you relax you are going to stain it with the dirt of work and stress. Try to create a space where you can live your life and a place where you can work as an artist. Don't make these two worlds blend too much even though you live your life as an artist. It is nice to open a book without being troubled with anything else when you decide to get away from your projects for a while.

Be couscous about where you work and where you don't. When you work at home like I do you have to treat your workspace like your workspace and organise it that way. So that is why you should start your day fixing everything you should and then leave to the space you are going to work. Sometimes this means you have to do do the little things for the second time.

Yes the second time of doing the small things. Here you answer the emails from clients and answer your professional social media messages, order the stuff you need! Always be sure you have enough paper and if you can see you are low on paper order it right away. Check your resources so now and then. You don't want to be happily surprised  by a big project and after that unhappily surprised by not having enough paper to finish it.

Step 3. Write down what you are going to do this day.

Maybe a bit weird since you are aware of the few things you are going to do that day but still, write them down. When you write everything down you can really work on things. It is written down so you have to do this first and then the other thing and so on.
When you write it down think about the order you are putting all the tasks and how long they are going to take. Don't feel stupid, accept the fact that you are only human. Famous actors don't even do this, they have someone hired to deal with this so they can focus on acting. They are the ones with the golden eggs, you are too but you probably can't afford to hire someone to schedule your day. So do this after you finished all the small things. Now you are ready to throw yourself in the creative space.

I globally did this with a general day schedule to bring pease in my week. I still write down my projects and what I am going to do with these projects. 

Always count more time for finishing your projects! It always takes more time too. Your client is always going to ask for some last minor changes. But these minor changes take time to save the files and send them again. 

Step 4. Keep on studying.

I already told you in previous posts, keep on studying. This improves your skills, makes you more free to put on paper what you want to put on paper. It even makes you faster as an artist. As you can see, I put a lot of time in the schedule above to improve my skills as an artist. I discover so many amazing artists every day who can draw and paint the most insane things and every time I discover I am not at that level yet. So I am going to work HARD to improve the problems I am facing. You don't want to think how you put something on paper on a technical level but on how you can place your idea on paper in the best way. The technical part shouldn't be a problem at all.

Step 5. Cleaning up when you are done.

Now we go to the end of our day. I mentioned before I would get back at structuring your day in step two. This step is easy to do but not the most nice one. Clean up at the end of your day and at the end of every job you had.
You finished everything, now you have to start over again for your new project so make sure everything is clean again. Also clean up when you are done for the day. I promise, you will be happy with this the next morning when you sit down to kick the ass of the awesome project you are working on!


These are the first changes I am going to make in my life. I will post an update soon so I can show you all that I am really going to make this happen.
If there are any questions or suggestions please put them in the comment section below! I would love to see everything you think! But if you are going to try these first 5 changes I am going to make and you want to share them you can leave them below as well. I am really curious about what you guys are doing!

Yours faithfully,






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