Life Lessons

Female illustrator succeeds in the freelance world

Within the next decade, 50% of workers are expected to be freelancers. But how can you navigate finances with an unstable income?

From illustrating the successes of African Americans in history to the whirling, twisting world of children’s books, Higgins Bond has built a successful career as a freelance illustrator.

However, she first started off full-time at an advertising firm in New York City. Then after giving birth to her son, she wanted to work from home.

“That’s when I found me an agent and became a freelance illustrator and that was 43 years ago.” Bond says.

During those decades working as a freelancer, Bond has landed gigs with Anheuser-Busch, NBC, Essence Magazine, and the US Postal Service. Her latest work includes illustrations for children’s books.

“It was really wonderful to see my story played out in pictures. To see the characters I have dreamed of made real,” said Ketch Secor, author of book Lorraine.

Even with the many successes, Bond said freelancing can be hard sometimes. Her income in her worst year was $13,000.

“You got to figure out how to make the money you make stretch,” she said.

Bond also said getting an agent has its advantages. They look for the jobs and…

“All you have to worry about is painting,” she said.

And finally, the most important thing is have faith in yourself. That’s especially important in the art world.

“In the absence of words, your picture has to speak for itself,” Bond explained.

And tell the story that you want everyone to hear.

Bond’s work as an illustrator has won her many accolades, including a medal of honor from Bill Clinton when he was the governor of Arkansas. But her most prized honor is being the first ever African American woman to design a stamp for the US Postal Service.


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