Illustrator and designer Molly Maine on how to run a creative career while travelling the world

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It's 2016. Molly Maine is single, surviving unsocial successful London, and moving full-time successful publishing. But thing isn't right. Despite enjoying some her occupation and nan institution she worked at, she was uncovering it difficult to support up pinch nan costs of surviving successful nan superior while paying backmost her student debt. And connected apical of that, her ambitions of becoming an illustrator were still niggling distant successful her mind. Her solution? Quit and recreation nan world.

This whitethorn sound for illustration a rash decision, but it had been building for immoderate time. Molly had studied illustration astatine assemblage and only recovered herself successful creation and trading jobs owed to their security. "I still loved drawing, and I had a beardown desire to create my ain artwork, but aft agelong days successful nan office, I recovered it intolerable to find nan clip aliases power to activity connected my portfolio," she tells Creative Boom.

After emotion trapped successful a loop pinch nary clear measurement out, she decided to make nan change. A large change. One that would let her to create immoderate abstraction to activity retired a caller plan. But without immoderate savings, nan luxury of clip was difficult to travel by. That's until she discovered nan cleanable opportunity.

"I had been practising yoga and meditation to thief maine woody pinch my anxiety, and I happened to travel crossed a six-month unpaid placement astatine a yoga schoolhouse successful India, moving arsenic a schematic designer successful speech for food, accommodation, and yoga," she says.

"After that, everything happened very quickly; I took a leap of faith, applied for nan placement, discontinue my job, took my last paycheck, and flew to India. After nan placement ended, I yet had nan time, space, and assurance to group up my ain imaginative business. I group up my laptop successful a small cafe successful nan Himalayas and began looking for clients…"

Since then, Molly has been travelling non-stop. After India, she headed astir Asia, including spells successful Thailand, Vietnam and Bali. This allowed her to activity connected her portfolio and turn her business without excessively overmuch financial pressure. As her income increased, she travelled to places pinch higher surviving costs, specified arsenic Hong Kong, Las Vegas and Portugal. "I've now been to 51 countries, and I'm excited to spot wherever I'll extremity up next!"

Travel broadens nan mind; successful Molly's case, it has broadened her creativity. "I person ever been obsessed pinch nan relationship betwixt ray and colour and really these aspects tin thief to specify a place's characteristic and mood," she explains.

"During my travels, I realised that each state had its unsocial colour palette, moreover down to nan shadiness of bluish of nan sky. Mexico, for instance, blew my mind. I would walk hours conscionable stepping astir nan streets successful a ocular stupor, soaking up nan agleam pinks and yellows of nan buildings, getting precocious connected colour!

"Early successful my travels, I started a passion project, creating an illustration for each state I visited, trying to seizure small snapshots successful clip that encompassed nan principle of each place. This past evolved into a postulation of recreation prints, which successful move caught nan attraction of various clients from nan recreation and manner industries, turning into commissions."

Travelling is not without its setbacks, though. For Molly, for illustration nan remainder of us, this presented itself successful nan shape of a pandemic that brought nan world to a halt. "I spent my first lockdown surviving connected a rootlike workplace successful Vietnam, truthful I was fortunate capable not to person had excessively overmuch of a difficult time," she reveals.

"With nan borders closed and nary tourism, my partner and I took nan opportunity to thrust a motorbike astir nan bluish Vietnamese countryside, which was wholly empty, a travel that inspired galore of my artworks astatine nan time. However, being incapable to time off nan state and worrying astir my family's wellness successful London gave maine a caller desire to beryllium person to location again.

"Once nan borders opened up, I flew backmost to walk immoderate clip pinch my parents, and my partner and I decided to create a guidelines a spot nearer to home. I didn't want to move backmost to nan UK, truthful instead, we sewage an flat successful Lisbon, which is now our 'home base'. I walk overmuch much clip successful Europe now and return much predominant trips backmost to nan UK. This has besides been adjuvant for work, arsenic it has allowed maine to touch guidelines pinch clients, be manufacture events, and grounds astatine shows specified arsenic The London Illustration Fair."

As good arsenic a pandemic to contend with, nan practicalities of being a imaginative were only amplified for Molly arsenic she wrestled pinch moving remotely. "I utilized to create my illustrations by manus utilizing achromatic ink and past scan my drawings into Photoshop to decorativeness nan colour," she says. "This became a nightmare whilst travelling, arsenic I was ever hunting down scanners (very difficult successful agrarian Laos).

"Nowadays, I activity a batch much successful Procreate, which has made things overmuch easier and wholly streamlined my process without compromising nan outcome. Part of my income comes from trading illustrated creation prints and products online, for which I usage a print-on-demand level (The Printspace). This intends that I don't person to interest astir nan logistics of physically shipping retired prints and products, arsenic orders are automatically fulfilled and sent to customers, turning this facet of my business into a passive income stream.

"I besides person various apps that thief maine way clip zones, cheque wi-fi speeds, and moreover book Zoom rooms successful co-working spaces for customer meetings. Occasionally, I will prosecute virtual assistants to grip various administrative tasks, freeing up my clip to attraction connected imaginative activity and connecting pinch clients."

This is hard-won advice, arsenic years of travelling person been a learning curve for Molly. And 1 of nan biggest challenges she encountered was nan absence of emotion for illustration portion of a unchangeable community. "Freelance illustration, by its nature, is often a solitary job, truthful erstwhile you adhd changeless recreation into nan mix, nan emotion of being disconnected tin intensify," she says.

"To effort and flooded this, I effort to activity retired imaginative co-working spaces aliases studios wherever I go, alternatively than moving from home. These spaces aren't conscionable astir having a table and bully wi-fi; it's astir connecting pinch different creatives, forming friendships and sometimes moreover collaborating connected projects.

"I'll besides effort to find section life drafting classes and be exhibitions and imaginative meetups, not conscionable to thief maine enactment connected but besides to supply caller inspiration for my work. Whenever I'm backmost successful London, I subordinate events and effort to immerse myself successful nan section imaginative scene."

Speaking of events, Molly precocious said connected a sheet for nan Association of Illustrators, wherever she discussed nan various ways illustrators tin diversify their incomes. "The quality of freelance activity is that it ebbs and flows, truthful I learnt early connected not to trust solely connected 1 root of income," she says.

"As portion of nan discussion, I shared my individual travel and experiences successful diversifying my income, including illustration commissions, freelance schematic creation work, online income of illustrated prints and products, information successful events and fairs, speaking engagements, imaginative consulting, and wholesale.

"The AOI has been a immense support passim my career, and I've learned truthful overmuch from nan events and resources astir everything from licensing to contracts and customer acquisition. The arena was a reminder of nan spot and support that comes from being portion of specified a move and collaborative community, and it was awesome to person been capable to beryllium a portion of it."

And erstwhile it comes to applicable proposal for moving successful a akin measurement to her globetrotting self, Molly is bursting pinch tips. The first of which is to take your destinations wisely. "It's important to equilibrium nan costs of surviving successful a state pinch your income, truthful do your research, activity retired your expected surviving expenses, and ever person an emergency money — capable to screen an urgent formation location if necessary," she says. "There's a immense quality successful costs betwixt moving remotely successful Japan versus nan Philippines, for example."

Another basking extremity is to return your devices pinch you and look aft them. "Whether it's your favourite group of watercolours, your DSLR, aliases your caller Macbook, guarantee you person protective cases and security for everything. In galore countries, these items will beryllium difficult to switch if they get damaged aliases spell missing."

Travelling nan world intends you'll beryllium changing clip zones frequently, truthful don't hide to return that into account. "If your clients are successful nan UK and you request to beryllium successful regular communication, see sticking to Europe aliases South Africa."

Starting your travel successful countries welcoming to integer nomads is besides thing to support successful mind. "I usage Nomadist to cheque which countries are presently nan champion places to activity remotely. These places will person reliable net connections, short-term rental accommodation, and co-working spaces, making nan modulation smoother."

It's easy to hide specifications for illustration your telephone erstwhile travelling, truthful Molly recommends you unlock your telephone earlier leaving your location country, ditch your contract, and move to utilizing section SIM cards. Deciding connected moving hours and sticking to them is besides a must.

"It's easy to get swept up successful nan escapade of travel, but without discipline, your activity will suffer," she says. "Equally important is to allocate clip for exploration and escapade — aft all, that's a large portion of why you're travelling!"

Finally, honesty and transparency pinch clients astir your location are essential. "I support my existent state updated connected my Instagram profile, ensuring clients and followers ever cognize wherever I am. Right now, I'm successful Chiang Mai, Thailand!"

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