Photo by Art of Freelance Alum Gina Cholick
CEO & Founder: Mathieu Young
Heidi: When and why did you start this organization?
Mathieu: Art of Freelance has been running 10-week online workshops since 2016. This spring will be our 10th. I love being a freelance photographer (well, maybe a little less so in the past two weeks), but was looking for a way to provide the accountability, community, feedback loops and deadlines that people working a normal 9-to-5 have baked into their lives, and we do not. So we break into small groups, check in weekly, and help each other stay accountable to the goals we set for the 10 weeks. The workshop culminates in a Showcase where we can all show off the work we’ve made. It’s amazing how much more people get done when there is some structure, a deadline, accountability, and support.
What has this taught you about the industry and yourself?
Short term, I feel like COVID-19 just revealed our industry as fragile, and not particularly well organized. There is no one advocating for creative freelancers at a national scale, the way you see in other countries. Congress is discussing a massive bailout package for major industries, “small” businesses (which probably don’t include sole proprietors that don’t have payroll costs), and people who qualify for Unemployment Insurance, but independent contractors that have been getting paid via a 1099 may fall through the cracks. You have people literally wondering how they’re going to pay their rent next month, and not a lot of good answers. We’ve been trying to research and aggregate some info on FEMA/SBA loans, emergency grants, rent moratoriums and mortgage forbearance programs, etc, to share with the community.
Long term, I think that this crisis will force us to be the kind of intrepid innovative, creative problem solvers that we naturally are, and develop interesting solutions to continue to provide the world with creative content. I also think that this crisis is going to push a lot of us to reassess the age old wisdom that you should specialize specialize specialize, and make a diversification of skill sets something to aim for. I think this crisis may push a lot of people to reassess their careers, and potentially pivot, or add additional layers to increase that resiliency in tough times like these.
Who are your members?
We’ve had hundreds of creative freelancers from all different industries participants in the workshop, and stay active in the community. Photographers make up a good portion of the participants, but there are also musicians, writers, directors, designers, illustrators, and entrepreneurs of all kinds. Part of what makes it unique is the cross pollination between people with divergent skill sets, interested, and backgrounds.
How are you coping with the current climate?
We’re hosting a free Zoom call at 12p PST this Thursday to discuss “freelancing in a COVID-19 world”, and I’ll be interviewing Andrea Stern (@asksternreps), Joe Pugliese (@joepug), and Hannah Soto (@greyhouseproductions).
There are also a couple spots open in the Spring 2020 workshop still available if people are interested in some additional community, accountability, and support over the next 10 weeks. The registration link is on the homepage here
And we’ve continued to update our resources for freelancers page here, and will continue to do so leading up to Thursday.