Faint Heart Never Won Fair Freelance

So, the story for today started (as a surprising number of the stories of my life do) on Craigslist. I try to troll through the ‘creative gigs’ section a few times a week. Mostly, I email people and never get replies, but every once and a while, something comes along that might actually be an opportunity to expand my portfolio a bit, and perhaps make some slight bit of money.

I found such an ad a few days ago, for someone needing basic character designs. Basic characters? I can do that! I can do that! I reply to the ad and I get back a set of specs to draw a couple characters- if they like ’em, they’ll pay me and send me more work. The description was basically: Generic handsome man in generic military gear holding a fancy knife. And THEN, just to shake things up, draw a generic pretty lady in generic¬†military gear holding the same fancy knife. Woo.

But, beggars can’t be choosers, and I did some designs. Were they the most inspired, breathtaking work I’ve ever done in my entire life ever? No. They weren’t. I didn’t have a lot to work with, and I was afraid to experiment and go outside the lines and upset the client. So I came up with these guys.


(Reeealy poor image quality, I’ll put up a better version when I’m on my computer at home.)

Are they great? No. Are they generic as hell? Yes. But they’re well colored and everything he asked for in the ad. Well, he asked for ‘gritty cartoon style’ and I have no idea what the hell that means. Frank Miller? Jhonen Vasquez? Hideo Kojima? Or, you know, pictures of dirty people? I just worked in my style and hoped for the best.

Over the interwebs these designs went, with me hoping to maybe make a few bucks out of the deal at the very best. The next day I got an email back saying that my work was ‘interesting’ but ‘not the quality’ he was looking for. And it put me in a bit of a snit, not going to lie. No matter what I do, my work is NOT low quality. It may not have had the certain qualities he was looking for, but don’t word it that way. If he wanted a specific style, he needed to be more specific. “Gritty’ don’t fucking cut it.

It was at this point that I told myself to take a deep breath and remember that I was dealing with someone off Craigslist, not a rep from Konami. But even with all the zen breathing and rational thoughts, I was still bummed out about this whole thing for days. Days. And I’m beginning to realize that’s part of my problem. Every tiny failure hits me like a ton of bricks and it takes me forever to pick myself up again. Silly things like this take huge chunks out of my self esteem, when they should bounce off of me without a second thought.

I want to put heart and effort into everything I do, but how do I do that while still maintaining a thick skin? I guess that’s the six million dollar question, isn’t it?