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Anna Hurley’s Amazing Origin Story

So you’re a freelance artist looking to attract clients. Or, you’re not a freelance artist, but you’re interested and curious about what freelance life entails. Or, you’re just a creative wanting to share your work with the world. I think all of those places are great places to be. I’ve been in all of those places and have learned a thing or two about how to move between them, and I’d love to share some of that with all of you.

My name is Anna Hurley, and at the start of 2020, I went from being an in-house illustrator at Asana to a full-time freelance illustrator. Transitioning into being 100% freelance was hard, but not for the reasons I originally expected. But during my transition, I realized the thing holding me back was just that: the mental hurdle that is fear. In the years before I switched, I was constantly telling myself I couldn’t do it, using any excuse from “I don’t know how to buy my own healthcare” to “I can’t do my own bookkeeping.” Once I quit my in-house job, however, I realized all of these things were 100% doable, and they were only mental hurdles that had been keeping me from what I wanted to be doing all along. The hurdles I had seen weren’t actually there; they were something I had made up in my head to keep me from pushing myself past where I felt secure.

Once I realized that all the barriers were in my head, I focused on trying to get my work out there on tools like Dribbble and Instagram. And this is where I learned another important lesson: consistency and repetition are key. I first started posting on Dribbble around 10 years ago after graduating from college, when it was still pretty new. Since I had just finished college, I was worried I would fall out of practice with my art, and I wanted a way that I could keep drawing every day and staying consistent. So, I started posting random doodles on Dribbble almost every day. I posted whatever I wanted, and my main mentality was that I just wanted to share my work with people.

Instagram is the other main social media platform I use for my art. If I’m being honest, I probably use Instagram even more consistently than I do Dribbble for a couple of reasons. First, I just find it so engaging and immediate. It’s so quick and easy to pick up your phone and post, and within seconds the post is flooded with comments and feedback. It’s also great for following your favorite artists and getting that daily inspiration fix. Of course, it has its problems, but it really is a great way to gain exposure to your art while also getting inspiration. I think that’s why I love Instagram so much; it keeps me in study mode. Looking at a piece of art that you like and asking yourself what you like about it is one of the best steps you can take in developing your personal style.

Being introspective, learning to determine what you like and why you like it, and then figuring out how to incorporate those elements into your work is crucial to evolving your style and growing as an artist.

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