Illustration & Design by Paddy Donnelly



Start. Just make the leap. There’s something that has been rattling around in the back of your head for a while now. An idea. Something you’ve always wanted to do. It might not work. It’s scary. Everyone is scared. Just start it.

Being comfortable can be the most uncomfortable thing in the world. Security of a 9-5 life with a steady paycheck can extinguish that creative fire. Our industry feeds upon variety, challenges and the fear of the unknown. To be successful in the creative world, you need to avoid stagnation with a passion and actively increase your exposure to new experiences in order to reach that raw and exciting edge.

I was comfortable. I had a steady position at an agency and for a while it was nice. I learned a lot. I worked on some great projects, but there were a few splinters which would often torment me. I wanted to have more say in the UX & design decisions. I needed more time to work on my own side projects and do the things I love to do. I wanted to make the calls.

I couldn’t do these things while working for someone else. These realisations and frustrations began to weigh down on my creative spirit.

I quit.

I made the leap into the unknown. It’s not easy to make that jump. It took a lot of thinking, preparing, research. Scary things like mortgages and car insurance have a way of binding you to the real world, keeping your feet firmly on the sturdy ground of familiarity.

Getting to actually do what you love, every day? Impossible, right? It certainly is impossible if you do nothing and never take a chance. Who’s going to walk in the door and give it to you? Whether that nagging idea is to create websites or design clothing or bake cupcakes, just try it. No matter what your talent or your interests or how crazy your idea is, there are people out there who will want to pay you for it.

It’s almost a year since I went full-time freelance, and in that short time the clients and projects I’ve had a chance to work on have been incredibly rewarding. As well as regular client work, which takes care of all those scary bills, I’ve pursued a few of my own side projects. I’ve made and sold a variety of prints, gave talks and launched a series of iOS apps for kids. All things that I had little or no experience with before. I read up on a lot of things. I dived in. I made mistakes and I learned. Most important of all though — I acted.

You don’t have to walk into your office tomorrow, quit and become a freelancer. Everyone’s path is different. Getting to do what you love everyday could be a matter of starting a blog, taking more photos, sketching, recording a podcast, consulting with a printer. What all these have in common is that they are actions.

That’s one of the most important lessons I’ve learned so far. Don’t just let that idea float around your head forever and never do anything with it. Sketch it out. Make it real. Consult an expert to see if it would be possible to build. Act on an idea in those early stages of it entering your head. Actually building a prototype while you’re still excited about the possibilities can have exponential effects on your motivation and the ultimate success of the idea.

Still got that idea in your head? Don’t know where to start? Just take a step. Take a step in any direction towards making that idea a reality. Once you’ve taken it, you’ll have a much better idea if it was in the right direction or not.

Then just take another one.

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