PK 048: Joshua Viers on how to be a Freelance Artist

PK 048: Joshua Viers on how to be a Freelance Artist 2 048 Joshua Viers podcast feat image

Subscribe to the Pencil Kings Podcast: | iTunes | Stitcher
Joshua Viers hasn’t looked back since he quit his job to become a freelance artist

“Going freelance is like diving into the ocean…but you know you can swim, so just get out there!”


Joshua Viers is a successful concept artist who has produced work for Steven Spielberg  and Jon Favreau films, as well as designing products for Hasbro, Adidas, and Samsung. But recently, he decided to quit his regular job and go freelance.

What made him finally take the plunge? And how did he get clients?

If you’ve ever thought about going freelance, read on.

Because everything you need to know about going it alone is in this week’s podcast…

The idea of going freelance first came to Joshua Viers about two years ago, when he went out for lunch with two fellow artists from the Bay Area.

They’d already gone freelance, and were talking about all the exciting projects they’d been working on. It got Josh thinking, but he still wasn’t sure if he was ready…

He says: “It’s hard to leave that 9-5 gig where you get your regular money every few weeks. For me, making that leap was pretty scary!”

And so Josh waited until the time was right; until he’d saved up enough money and built up enough clients to keep him going through the first few uncertain months.

That right time was seven months ago, and Josh hasn’t looked back since. However, he admits he had some doubts at first…

He says: “When you’re with a company, you’re kind of insulated from the outside world. But, when you go it alone, you don’t have that insulation.

“That’s when you start asking yourself: ‘Am I really good enough?’ However, it’s a bit like jumping into the ocean…you know you can swim, so just get out there!”

How Joshua Viers Prepared to go Freelance

Before he handed in his notice at his full-time job, Josh made sure he’d got a few things in place.

He made sure he had a few clients to keep him going at first, and that had between 12 and 18 months of savings to fall back on if he needed to.

With regards to his work and getting clients, these were his first steps:

  1. Personal work. Josh’s advice to anyone thinking of going freelance is to work on your personal projects so that you’ve got about six finished examples of your art to show people. He says: “You need to be telling people: ‘This is what I’m capable of right now.’ If you’re still in your full-time job, be prepared to put in that extra time and get your personal work done.”
  2. Get your website up and running and showcase this new personal work. “Having my website ready to go made a huge difference,” Josh says.
  3. As well as featuring six, focused personal pieces on your site, choose at least 10 images from other projects that you’re really proud of.

Joshua Viers on Developing Your Own Style

Josh admits he used to worry about developing his own style, but he now has this advice for any aspiring artists: “Don’t worry about it. Your style will come to you, and it’ll come to you when you least expect it!

“Just keep working and keep being inspired. Relax and let your style come on its own. In fact, you may not even realize you have a particular style until somebody else tells you!”

How to get new Clients as a Freelance Artist

But what about all the other stuff you need to set up your own freelance business? Don’t you need a cool logo and business cards?

“Don’t worry about having a logo unless you’re a graphic designer” says Josh, “and don’t worry about getting business cards printed, either. Save your money. Instead, start cold-calling people and letting them know about your work.”

But isn’t cold-calling people really scary at first?

Josh laughs and explains: “It’s scary at first, but you’ve got to be willing to take that risk. After all, the worst they can do is say no! Most people are approachable, but try calling someone you’re not intimidated by at first.

“The most important thing is this: If you want to stand out to people, you have to call them –  not email them. Perhaps even offer to visit them in person!”

Final Advice on Going Freelance from Joshua Viers

Ready to take the plunge and dive into a freelance career? Here’s some final advice from Josh to help you make the decision…

He says: “Just hit the phones, keep making the work, and set yourself a deadline that you have to stick to. For example, you could say to yourself: ‘I plan to leave my full-time job in exactly six months from now, so I need to get these things done first.

“Give yourself a finite goal. It’ll make it much more immediate, and it’ll help push you out of your comfort zone.”

Listen to this week’s show and learn:

  • How to prepare for a freelance art career
  • Why you don’t need to worry about developing your own style
  • How to approach the right people and find freelance gigs
  • Why going freelance isn’t as scary as you might think

People on this Episode:


Mentioned in the episode:

Joshua’s Website
Josh on Deviant Art

Listening options:

Subscribe via iTunes.
Listen on Stitcher Radio.
Android users can grab our RSS feed here.
Right-click and “save file as” for direct download.

Thanks for listening to our show! We’ll be back next Wednesday morning 8AM EST.



PS, there is also Pencil Kings content on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

2 thoughts on “PK 048: Joshua Viers on how to be a Freelance Artist”

  1. Love it! I prefer reading to listening, but hearing this guy’s voice really brought down the idea of freelancing to a level where I can actually see myself doing it some day 🙂 I’ve got the date, I’ve got the ideas, I’ve got the plans, now to put them into action….

    1. Chris at PencilKings

      Really glad you enjoyed this podcast, Andreisy…but I’m even more excited that you’re making plans to go freelance! Keep us updated with your progress – we’d love to hear how you get on 🙂

Comments are closed.