Sometimes, I wish I had one of those people – who write profound little quotes like the ones that pop-up on my Facebook news feed – sat on my shoulder. Then I could respond to every situation with a positive thought for the day. But I don’t. So I often end up sounding really passive-aggressive or overly interested in things that don’t interest me (which can lead to me having to feign interest in the same subject for as many years as I know the person who is actually interested in it…).
This general demeanour has led to lots of unsolicited advice, but here are the best words of wisdom that were ever thrown my way.
“You are not a sausage factory.”
This has stuck with me through thick and thin, offered by an amazing illustrator when I was right at the beginning of my career. You know that bit where the whole world appears to be asking you to work for free (I like to call them freedy). Well, I had a client who was getting a good four weeks worth of my time for the equivalent of a piece of fluff and a magic bean. Really. They were also working my fingers to the bone and pretty much wanting me to just bang out generic images, using me as their hands. There was no creativity involved whatsoever. I asked a group of professional illustrators what should I do? A very, VERY fabulous lady said ‘You’re not a sausage factory,’ and I understood everything all at the same time. I think that was the day I learned self-respect as an illustrator. I’ve never worked on a job like that again.
“If you act like you fell out of a Christmas cracker, that’s how people will treat you.”
This is pretty self explanatory and came from something I was reading on a very funny ‘mums’ advice website. If you have no values, morals, expectations then you only have a novelty value. And as we all know, novelty wears off very quickly. Stand up and say what you’re about.
“Ask. The worst that can happen is a big fat ‘no’.”
The most straight forward thing can sometimes be the hardest thing. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Sometimes, if you do ask, you don’t get. But the most important thing here is, nothing worth having is usually offered on a plate. You really do have to make your own opportunities or you’ll forever be wondering why everyone else is getting ahead and you’re stuck on the couch in your pyjamas watching daytime TV and checking your phone every five minutes. Disclaimer: Even if you become a go-getter overnight, I can’t guarantee that you won’t still check your phone every five minutes…
“You can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, you have to go through it.”
Ten points to everyone who’s sticking their hands up now saying ‘I know that one!’ This is a great mantra for tough times or that middle to end bit of a project or that one double page spread you’re really not looking forward to colouring. This is my favourite all-rounder piece of advice.
And when everything goes wrong:
“What’s for you, won’t go by you.”
This is my mum’s stock phrase for when things go wrong. It’s a bit hokey-pokey but it always makes me feel better. I do find myself now saying this to other people when everything goes belly-up.