4 min read

Going freelance, by which I meant going on tour 🚍

My general priorities, quitting my day job and tie-dying so many shirts.

Pre-orders for another round of tie-dye Worriers shirts are up now! This is the last batch for the foreseeable future and the last bunch sold out in only a few hours, so go grab one while you can! I've put the pin sets up in our merch store now, too!

I haven't had a full-time 9-5 job in over ten years. I quit to "go freelance" by which I meant "go on tour" a long time ago and never looked back. It started because I needed that kind of flexibility to travel, but it ended up being for the same reason everyone else seems to be quitting their day job right now.

I wish I had been more intentional with things in the beginning, instead of the strategy of just throwing spaghetti at a wall and seeing what sticks. I felt obligated to have my life look a certain way, or to not appear as though I wanted a career in music. That word "sellout" was on the tip of everyone's tongue. It took starting from an almost clean slate by going to grad school for things to feel like my own. I'm still throwing spaghetti sometimes, but overall I have much better work intentions and boundaries - whether that's in the freelance world or my own art and music practice.

Generally speaking, my list looks like this:

  • I want to make things that I'm excited to see in a new space.
  • I don't do client work on weekends.
  • I don't answer client emails after 6 pm.
  • If it means more people will see my work, I'm down.
  • If an opportunity sounds fun and in-line with my existing work, I try to make time for it.
  • I want to be more present on stage and be able to make meaningful connections with folks through that.
  • I still draw and paint but if my artist statement doesn't perfectly match what a gallery or competition is looking for, I don't entirely care anymore.
  • In general: Fuck it, why not.

This general practice doesn't stay sustainable on its own. My birthday is later this week and I keep joking with myself that all I really want as a gift is 10k followers on Instagram or TikTok, or for newsletter subscriptions to be closer to that number. I'd love for these platforms to reflect the number of people who I know listen to my music, or enjoy my art, not for the vanity metrics but for the ability to share my work with a wider audience.

Maybe that sounds like bullshit, but it's true. When physically playing shows can be eliminated from the menu at the drop of a hat, you realize how important those networks are, no matter how much you hate the algorithm. Continuing to be on a number of social media platforms is a conscious choice to leave those avenues open.

Leaving yourself options lets you avoid being backed into a corner by any one project. I have my artwork on portfolio and commerce sites. I finally broke down and committed to having an Etsy in addition to my own webstore. I'm trying to understand NFTs and if that would fit into my existing practice without killing the planet. I've been cold e-mailing art directors to try and expand my illustration work. I've been pursuing co-writing songs when not working on music for Worriers and would love to demo more music for outside projects. Sometimes I offer to draw pet portraits. I write this newsletter. I don't want to rely on just one route and all of the above is fun for me. Plus, paying my bills is nice.

I knew that playing shows again would be a big motivating factor. The whole "oh THIS is why I do this and tolerate a stupid level of precarity" thing. But I wasn't prepared for just how heartwarming and meaningful it would turn out to be. At the risk of sounding more sentimental than usual, meeting more of y'all and hearing your stories and seeing new folks just BEAMING in the front row left me smiling or wanting to cry happy tears the whole time. I saw some of the tie dye shirts in towns I've never played before. What?!

So I guess that's my point. All of the above options and avenues and social media nonsense is really to keep the option open of meeting real people in real life. It's for the ability to be in a room and in relationship with a general community that I love. I just want to keep doing this and if any of it looks weird or cheesy or not in line with what everyone else is doing, that's ok. Make your own list. Write your own mission statement. Even if you keep your full-time job, you'll know why you're doing so.

A few announcements:

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If you're planning on coming to shows, please, for the love of everything that's good in the world, get vaccinated.