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This is the last blog in my series Both Hands On The Pencil where I share about my freelance practice as a commercial illustrator. It would be great if this series was full of useful tips and helping your career move forward, but even greater if you’ve realised these blogs were coming from the perspective of one particular freelancer and that your own path looks a lot different. There’s no blueprint to build the perfect creative career, you just figure out what works for you.

At the end of last year, I took a long break after a year that had been quite a bit too busy and creatively unfulfilling. The break was much needed to get rest and filling up my battery, but it was also a time to look ahead to see what I wanted with my career, something that’s difficult to find time for when work is in full swing. I didn’t want to hit this wall again and also needed a system to prevent worse scenarios. I went back to see where things went wrong and realised I made the mistake of compensating stressful work days with riding my bike too hard for too long. Come summer, I was feeling as horrible about working as I felt about doing sports and was suffering from insomnia and burnout come autumn. All year I made myself believe that to overcome this creative rut, as well as a period of bad cycling form, I had to work harder, focus harder, ride harder. I believed the lie that to be a good freelancer I had to be busy at all times. During my break it finally clicked: I shouldn’t have worked harder, I should’ve taken a break earlier. …


Wijtze Valkema

Commercial illustrator at

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