On Saturday I went to my first ever Creative Women's Circle talk, and it was such a goodie. I imagine no less than 99% of creative Melbourne designer types would know who Beci Orpin is, but if not, take a peep at her website here! Beci spoke mostly about how she's gotten to the place as a designer she is now - her experiences and journey. This post isn't a recap of what Beci actually said though... sorry! Apart from reinforcing my suspicion that Beci Orpin is Super Awesome, a lot of what Beci said made it clear (in my mind at least!) that being successful as a freelancer/self employed creative has a lot to do with being in the right place at the right time, and taking advantage of as many opportunities as possible.
Being in the right place at the right time is not in any way the same as being lucky. Being lucky would be if, for example, I walked into my favourite fabric store and a representative of Lecien was there waiting to ask the first person wearing a yellow scarf to produce a fabric collection. Or I won the biggest ever lotto draw. But that's not going to happen. (How awesome would that be, though? Right?)
Being in the right place at the right time involves for someone in my position 3 things- working very hard to amass a fabulous skill-set, a great portfolio of previous work, and an awesome network of people around me. If I look at any of my favourite designers & illustrators who are consistently doing great work, they have all 3 of these things happening. If you have a great skill-set you can work effectively & quickly. If you have a great portfolio of prior work you have work out there that people can see and that will help you develop your distinctive style. A great network is also important - if you have the first two things a great network of people will know other people who have opportunities for you.
So it's really less luck and more lots of hard work. Going to this fabulous CWC event (along with my previous soul searching) really helped make it clear to me that I need to work on all three of those things mentioned - portfolio (in the pipeline!), skills (I have skills! but more is always awesome) and a great network (I already have a pretty rad network, hooray!).
Since the talk I've been working with The Public Studio's awesome business planning/soul searching guide - more on this soon!