A few weeks ago Christine asked how many maps I've created. Wow-- good question-- I'd never stopped to count them! (It's a funny sensation-- you spend years with your nose close to the drawing board and when you suddenly look up at the big picture it dawns on you how much you've accomplished.)
So I pulled out my handy dandy pencil, pad, calculator, and accounting book. This is what I came up with:
I started my business almost 16 years ago, in mid-1993.
In the beginning I did a lot of design work for my former employer and others. The map illustration work grew slowly for the first few years, until it finally took off and I was able to do it exclusively.
And in 16 years I've created:
That's a roughly accurate number, and it's probably higher, since in the beginning I did a lot of samples for my portfolio. (And some assignments were for multiple maps, which, silly me, I didn't record.)
The least amount I've done in any one year is 9 (not counting 2 the first year-- but that was only a 6-month period.) That happened twice-- in 1994 when I was still starting out, and in 2003. A lousy year.
The most I've ever done in one year is this year-- 66!
It averages out to 33.5 maps per year, since I began.
The number of maps doesn't necessarily correlate with how much money I've earned in any particular year, since they've been of all different sizes and complexities-- not to mention the depressing fact of falling illustration budgets over the last 10 years.
But I've survived-- through babies being born, house moves, heart attacks, bursting economic bubbles (and faulty appendixes, oh my!) It's been an interesting ride, and right now it looks even more challenging than ever. But I'm an optimist. I think you have to be, in order to attempt to make a living as an artist. (Or maybe I'm just delusional. Either way, it keeps me going.)
I have to say that when I quit my full-time job I was terrified of the uncertainty of freelancing. But I was fortunate to have a lot of supportive freelancer-friends to go to for advice.
And at some point, after a few years, it dawned on me that I'd really learned how to navegate this crazy juggling act of a life from the best-- my Dad-- who loves what he does for a living and who'd always managed to keep his own business going, though all sorts of ups and downs. We were as happy and normal kids as any, despite the pressure that he was under. In my opinion, that's what success is all about. (Thanks, Dad!)