The Joy of Independence
A veteran of the indie scene explains why it’s worth it to go your own way in the first of a new series of columns. By Martin Grebing.
I’ve never been a big fan of coloring inside the lines. Well, maybe a little at first, but once I figured out the game, creating my own lines became paramount.
I’m here to tell you how great being independent is, but I’m also here to tell you it’s not all roses. Going out on your own can be a harrowing experience. At the beginning, you will more than likely fail more than you succeed. There’s a good chance you will be late with rent, your car payments, student loans and a host of other bills more than a few times. You may not know when or where your next meal will appear. You may have to beg and borrow from everyone you know.
The struggle to become independent is more than just a collection of harsh learning lessons; it’s a rite of passage. However, if this is your true calling and you can persist against a world that seems hell-bent on the demise of anyone who dares buck the system, the rewards can be exponentially sweeter. But be warned: Once this level is achieved, there is no turning back. Once you’ve tasted the inde-
The struggle to become independent is a rite of passage.
However, if you can persist against a world that seems hell-
bent on the demise of anyone who dares buck the system, the
rewards can be exponentially sweeter.
pendent lifestyle, the mere thought of returning to the 9-to-5 grind will forevermore send nauseating shivers down your spine.
Before digging too deep, let’s take a look at exactly what being independent means from a dictionary perspective: 1) Not relying on others for aid or support. 2) Not being under the rule or control of another.
These definitions could apply to those that are independently wealthy and don’t need or want to work. They could also loosely apply to the unemployed or even a wandering monk who travels through the Old West armed only with his spiritual training and skill in martial arts. But for the sake of this article, let’s focus on the successful independent animator, artist, or creative small business owner-operator who is not tied down by the confines of a standard 9-to-5 job.
Being independent means having the power to choose lifestyle first. How much money do you want to make? How many hours per week do you want to work? Want to take off this Tuesday? How about next month? Want to sleep until noon because you were up late last night checking out a DJ without needing to call into work, pretending to be sick? Not a problem as long as you have all your responsibilities taken care of in advance so everything runs smoothly while you’re on siesta.
Being independent means you can work any- where you want. How would you like to make $1,000 in a day from your home studio, never needing to change out of your pajamas while a movie marathon of your favorite films plays in the background? I don’t know about you, but for me that sounds a lot like heaven. What about taking your laptop and umbrella to the beach, sipping on fruity drinks under the sun, hearing the waves crash against the sand and seagulls caw while animating a character for a local advertising agency? With today’s technology, you can work almost anywhere in the world and deliver your content to almost any other place in the world and your clients might not even know the difference.
The Ability to Stretch
Being independent makes your calendar elastic. Days of the week tend to lose their meaning in a traditional sense. Highs and lows are not dictated by the day of the week but rather what goals are accomplished, how much fun you have being your own boss, and how many times you thank the stars for not being a member of the Miserable Monday Club.
Being independent means unlimited earnings potential. This one deserves repeating: unlimited earnings potential! Chances are, you’re already an overachiever and make no qualms about working 80-plus hours in a week, so why not do it for yourself and your own dreams? Want to make $10,000 this week? There’s nothing holding you back, it’s all up to you to find the clients and projects to make it happen.
Being independent certainly has its challenges and is definitely not for everyone, but for those that dare the rewards can be phenomenal. It’s more than doing your own thing, more than having unlimited earnings potential, more than being able to call your own shots. Being independent is, in a word, freedom. Martin Grebing is an award-winning animation director and producer who has focused his career on smaller studios and alternative markets. Today, he provides creative consulting and is the owneroperator of Funnybone Animation, a boutique studio that produces animation for a wide range of clients and industries. He can be reached at www.funnyboneanimation.com.