We don’t earn aloe vera

In this post I’d like to share with you my experience and things I’ve learnt (and constantly keep learning) as an art student/freelancer. I think it might be helpful to those of you who are just starting in the business but I would also really appreciate some feedback from more experienced artists. I’d really like to open a discussion here because even if “freelancing” starts with “free” there are some rules and guidelines which we should keep in mind.

My freelancing patch is very broad. From selling paintings, creating works made especially for an order, caricatural/comic-like portraits to murals and videos. Am I proud of all the works I’ve done? Hell no. But some of them were pretty great. So let’s talk art freelancing:

1. You’ve got to be flexible. Do you think that the greatest of all – Diego Velázquez – felt the great urge to create so many portraits of Philip IV of Spain? Nope. I don’t think so. Our clients pay and have certain demands so we’ve got to be smart enough to do what they want but in a way that also doesn’t make us cry while working. My hack to do that: negotiating and not procrastinating. Putting off the work that you don’t really enjoy might make you fall into a huge rabbit hole. Remember, you should always do your work up to standards but if you don’t enjoy working on a said project – rip off that band-aid as soon as you can, simply – just get it done.

2. That brings us to the big green subject of money. Discussing payment usually sucks. On one hand if you’re a student some of the clients might not treat you seriously. On the other hand – maybe you don’t treat yourself seriously enough to ask for money? Remember, always before you start working or buying materials ask about the budget. It’s not being greedy it’s called having respect for what you do. What to do if you’re not sure how much is your job worth? I usually start with the subject of materials, sometimes it might get quite expensive. I also try to count hours I will spend on creating. And then, a thing that’s essential and I recommend to you all: discussing the pay with art professors, other artists. Just to make sure that everything is reasonable and beneficial for both sides.

3. Recognize the differences. In your creative job there are going to be situations in which you will have to decide if a project is worth investing your time if it’s not a paid gig. Some projects are definitely worth it! If they are connected with the art world, bring you contacts, marketing opportunities and additionally you can place them in your portfolio it’s definitely worth it! Maybe you and your friends are a group of people who just want to do something great (just like us, My Best team). Try it and I promise you won’t regret it. Sometimes it’s about what you love doing and about exploring opportunities as a creative group. And who knows, maybe someday it will be your golden ticket to doing the job you love.

4. But be careful with people who will try to give you unfavourable *trashy* propositions. Last week I got a call from a woman who claimed to be interested in buying my painting, telling me that she can give me a creative job. She invited me to a meeting at her private house with a group of women where we would talk about our professions and do home spa. The whole thing seemed stinky from the very beginning. I decided not to go and confronted her through the phone. It turned out that she wanted me to sell “natural” cosmetics and that she would give me aloe vera in as a payment for the painting. Guys, don’t get trapped like this. Art job is like any other. We don’t earn aloe vera.

5. There are going to be great people on your path and I can’t stress it enough that it’s crucial to keep in touch with them after your engagement is over. Keep inviting them for your vernissages, exhibitions, art events. If they enjoyed working with you the first time it’s very possible they will want to try that again or they will tell their friends about you. That’s how you build a network and in the mysterious environment of art- it’s a crucial element.

Keep creating, stay healthy,

Maria

Not being afraid to voice my opinion

  • Name: Nicolle Knapová
  • Occupation: Poet/aspiring novelist
  • University Degree: Currently finishing up my master degree in Creative writing and publishing
  • Favourite artist: Halsey/ Taylor Swift
  • Favourite colour: Baby blue
  • Favourite sound: Rain

Hi MyBest, Zine! I am Nicolle and I am a poet and a writer from the Czech Republic. Being an artist to me means not being afraid to voice my opinion. Being an artist to me means being able to share stories with people around the world. It enables me to express my feelings which is really important to me.  I love writing about topics such as mental health problems, forbidden love and New York (particularly Brooklyn). One of the biggest things that influences and inspires me the most is music. It doesn’t matter if it is Chopin or The Paper Kites. The one artist that inspires me and influences my work the most is without doubt Halsey. We are both Libras and she is someone I truly look up to. I have been listening to her ever since she released her debut album Badlands. It was love at first sight. When it comes to literature, a big influence for me is Murakami. I devoured his book Afterdark in a couple of days and left me in awe. It really left a mark on me.  I love creating playlists on Spotify. I made one for my debut novel that I want to publish in the next two years. It works as a soundtrack and every time I listen to it I can imagine the story unravel in front of me. But sometimes a really beautiful photo can inspire me just as perfectly.  I am currently hard at work writing my debut poetry collection Aftermath which I want to publish late this year. It is a very personal collection of my teen and young adult life- relationships, family, friendships, unfulfilled expectations and my mental health struggles.

I don’t really have a specific work routine! All I can tell you is that my creativity really comes to life around 10 PM when I want to sleep but my brain just doesn’t want to hear it.  I did spend the whole summer writing my dissertation- three chapters of the above mentioned novel and it was quite intense to write every day. My inspiration really does come in flares. But my writing process always involves coffee and music. I just can’t imagine doing it without it. Oh, and a candle and preferably a rainy morning.

What made me want to be an artist goes back to elementary school when I started writing little snippets of stories. I didn’t have many talents back then but writing was always something that I was praised for and therefore it stuck with me. The very first proper story that I wrote was about two cats that traveled to Egypt only for the one of them to be mistaken for Nefertiti. It was such a fun thing to do and to think I was only 10! Back then I only wrote in Czech which changed when I started high school. I tried writing in Czech but to be honest it just doesn’t sound as natural anymore. I find it insane but it is what it is! I used to be bullied and writing was to me a great way to express how I felt and it was a way to escape the reality. I love being a storyteller and I really hope I will one day be able to do this as a full-time job.

Without art, some people lose meaning

I’m an artist because I’ve always enjoyed books, movies, and art of all kinds. Some
people in my life would say writing isn’t an art but I don’t agree. I believe anything creative that involves someone creating a product or end piece is an artist whether it be a movie, book, article, painting or music. I write because I think it’s fun to do. Watching movies, playing video games, and reading books always gives me ideas. If I really like something and a book doesn’t include it, I write it into mine. I think writing is a good opportunity to put one’s own thoughts and ideas for others to read.


I started doing art at a young age, I drew silly comics of a superhero and filled tons of notebooks of the adventures. I didn’t do art as much in my beginning years of high school but seeing some of my close friends drawing and animating and doing music I began to try it too. I loved music and still do. I then started to try art classes and drawing and reading some more books.


Being an artist is a way to express oneself through different media. To me it’s writing books and stories about things I enjoy reading myself. I love fantasy video games and movies and books and that’s what I like to write about. Without writing, I feel like I wouldn’t have a good drive to continue being productive.


I’m not a professional writer but I do hope to be someday soon. On a normal day I write for a few hours on my book and my online blog. When I write, the story or topics flow out from me and I usually can write quite a lot in one sitting. I apply to writing jobs every day, to hopefully find somewhere that I can show my art and fulfill one of my dreams.


Writing brings me a lot of motivation. I hope to have a book published, seeing my own writing in a store is one of my biggest dreams. I think being an artist isn’t just about professional work, but more importantly it’s about doing something you love regardless of recognition or the expectation of money in return. Sharing something for the world is one of my favorite things about writing. Hearing feedback from others may be difficult sometimes but I think it always makes for good criticism to improve writing.

I posted a writing online and there were quite a few responses to it. Some of the feedback was negative but regardless, I learned a little more about the writing style I have and my writing flow. Even though it doesn’t feel great to see negative things about my own writing, I used that and tried to improve my writing in the future.


All in all, if you love to write or draw or whatever your art may be, I think it’s always a good idea to try it and share it with the world. Without art, some people lose meaning and need it to inspire them. One of my favorite quotes is “a professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit” by Richard Bach. I believe that quote because I think everyone can be a professional regardless of their age or years of experience. It can take just one writing piece to have someone realize they have talent. Sometimes people are overlooked for lack of experience or their age but I believe some younger people with less experience may have more talent than most others.

Reigning in the magpie tendencies

I had a bit of time off in the last month in Italy, which allowed me to take stock and think more clearly about what I was doing to enable my career change. In my previous column, I was pouring over creative job descriptions, looking at the skills required and what I needed to upskill in. In Italy, I looked at copywriting websites, found copywriting podcasts, did bitesize SEO courses, and finished off copywriting work for two clients. I was busy, and enjoyed it, but frankly, I feel like I need a good month off to make a dent in my career move. I’ve been building up my portfolio and upskilling, but it seems a bit organic, piecemeal and lacking in an actual plan.

I remember two images that were shared in my career change course that I feel justify my randomness and how I’m feeling. One showed points A and B with a direct line from A to B. The tutor said that people think a career change is a simple process or step. The other was an absolute mess of squiggles and swirls from A to B. This is career change she said. Ha! She is so right.

And so, I am pondering the following:

  • Do I go part-time in my current career and build my copywriting work on the side or apply directly to a perm or freelance copywriting role?
  • Do I try to find a job back in a communications agency, an environment I loved with variety, creativity and real teamwork?
  • How do I update my LinkedIn profile or re-write my CV if I don’t know what I am aiming for, and crucially not alert my current company?
  • Do I move to a four day week at work to give me the time to do more thinking and action things and limit the amount of ‘other career’ work that is eating up my free time?
  • I am planning to move closer to Bristol early next year and currently have job alerts set up for the local area to me now and Bristol. If I find a role close to me and I move next year, how will that work? Or I might find a position in Bristol before I move? Should I even be looking?!
  • The timing. COVID-19 timing. With so many people being made redundant, should I thank my lucky stars that I have a role and sit tight?
  • How do I carve out time to do relevant courses or training?

So many variables! And these fly around my mind regularly. What do I do first? What’s necessary? I must gain some semblance of control, rein in my thoughts and stop flitting between things like a magpie attracted by the next shiny thing.

On my flight back from Italy, I decided to act. I looked back through all the notes I had made, the interviews with people, websites I needed to look at, margin scrawls, starred sentences and got stuck into pulling out what I thought was important and put them into a list. I don’t know about you, but a list makes me feel calm, organised, and able to think clearly. A step closer to having some control because I am a control freak. With everything all clearly laid out on a page, it was easy for me to step back and look at what was essential and would help me further my progress. My list went into double digits which could have felt overwhelming, so I wanted to be quite tough on what could wait based on how much impact it had on my progress.

Instantly I could see what I needed to do. If I want to apply for a job on one of the many job alerts I have set up, I must have an up-to-date CV and one that reflects the portfolio work I have been doing – priority number one.

Priority number two; tweak my LinkedIn profile. I have some positive testimonials from the portfolio work I have done that I should share and could help me reposition myself to start connecting with more people in the areas that interest me. My profile summary must be more in line with my passions, the work I have done and am looking to do if I am to attract a different network.

Priority number three; continue to understand SEO. I started a great little course called SEO Nibbles from an award-winning copywriter, Kate Toon, in Italy, and I still have one more ‘nibble’ to do. I also want to find the time to listen to her copywriting podcasts. (COVID-19 has meant my usual podcast listening time, on ‘my commute to work’ has been taken away from me. I don’t have time to listen to a podcast between my bedroom and office!) I also managed to spend time with my sister, who shared hints and tips from what she had learnt about SEO as part of her job and kindly gave me some good material to read and use. Thanks, sis!

And that’s all I am prioritising for now. I can cope with things in threes, and so long as the ‘Do CV’, ‘Tweak LinkedIn profile’ and ‘Do SEO course’ post-it notes remain on my office wall, I won’t look at the list again. I need to focus, and I have time. I need to recognise this. I don’t have to do everything by the end of next week, and realistically I can’t. (My first headline idea for this month’s column was originally going to be ‘I want to be a salsa dancer, now!’ because that’s I how I feel. I’m an impatient person.) I’m lucky to have a job and a partner who gives me space to catch up on things like writing this column and ticking off my priorities, and I have some control back. Career change takes time, as simple as that.

By next month’s column, I will have an up-to-date CV!

Excitement in the room is astronomical

It’s been a long and exciting process which today has officially come to an end. Issue#1 is soon going to be available in print! We have been working alongside a bunch of talented people who helped us out during the process with editing, layout, proofreading and publishing! We will talk in more detail about the process of creating MyBest, both in columns as well as in print versions so stay tuned.

We are proud to announce that MyBest, Issue1 Beginnings goes live on our website and soon after you’ll be able to purchase a print issue of the magazine with exclusive content forom our resident artists and contributors! All of the works submitted to the first issue of the magazine were incredible, unfortunately we had to select only a few to be featured in print.

Preview of the paper Issue can be found on our Instagram @MyBestZine

You will be able to purchase paper issue of MyBest, at https://mybestzine.bigcartel.com/

Without YOU there would be no MyBest, so we’d like to thank all of you for being with us as readers, contributors, resident artists and writers. We hope to bring you more and more inspiring content in the future and we can’t wait to see more of your work.

Soon we will announce the theme for Issue2 of the magazine!

Thank you for all your support,

MyBest,