Meet Nicole Tealdeal
I am a 26 year old teacher, book-loving fangirl, and now a freelance illustrator. I’ve been drawing since I was a child, and digitally painting since I was a tween. I use photoshop and a Wacom intuos to paint images from my favorite books and creators. I live in the country, and am astray cat a person. Meaning I snuck into my fair share of pastures to read and eat home-made buttermilk biscuits. I have two dog and a cat and spend what free time I have volunteering/fostering for my local Humane Society.
Social media links
What was your very first illustration? Share with us about the illustrator part of you.
My first illustration, that I can recall, was a graphite drawing of a young girl with a head-sized pearl leading a giant koi from the Sea. I had just read the Old Man and the Sea. I have always had a deep fear of catfish and carp. Giant things that lay in the mud ready to swallow up a young girl with her toes in the slime. (My love of monsters and jewelry has only grown.)
What was your first fandom illustration? Share with us about the fangirl part of you.
Oh lord, it was probably Sailor Moon? But, in as far as me spending any real time- I believe it was ACOTAR related. I’d never been a part of a book fandom before that and it was so active. I made it to thank a fanfic writer. I do that often. I enjoy showering writers I appreciate with fanart ranging from doodles to full on illustrations. I deeply believe in thanking creatives, and in return I always find myself friends with at least a few writers.
When did you open your shop? How did you handle the nerves + business side of things?
My first shop was opened January of this year. At the urging of one of those fanfic writers who I had been plying with gifts. Before then I hadn’t even considered taking commissions let alone selling anything. I’m quite new to all of this. But, after I made a significant amount of sales at my society 6 shop, I decided to move to Inprnt because the profit margins on prints was significantly better.
I’m still figuring out the freelance business and initially charged far too little. Which is a mistake many artists make starting out. Joining with an online artist/book community helped me navigate how to approach commissions, rights, licensing, etc.
Most importantly to me, is that I have other sources of income that help me keep the freelance pursuit less pressured and more able to be directed my decision instead of desperation. Variety is the spice of my life.
Tell us about what an average (or maybe not so average) day of being a freelancer is like.
First thing is walking dogs and answering emails with a strong bit of tea and my cellphone. Then I go to teach. Something that brings me endless joy. When I get home, I play with the pups again and tidy the house. This helps me clean my head and get some physical activity in before freelance work. I get some lunch and settle in for paintings and answering emails. I usually have an audiobook playing. This is usually a 3 hours working/ 1 hour walking the dogs/ taking a visual break schedule. I find that Breaks let your brain do some back-burner processing. Plus my dogs are tempting as sin, and never fell to encourage me into our sunny yard. I like keeping busy, but I need a turntable of things to rotate through, so I don’t stagnate.
I fangirl over your illustrations ever since I came across your Twitter! Any WIPs that you are able to share?
What has been your favorite and least favorite experience so far since starting your freelancing and illustrating journeys?
Early on I was commissioned by one of my favorite authors, Rosamund Hodge, to do character portraits for one of her novels. That was hands-down one of the most surreal freelancing moments. One of my worst experiences was brought about by my own inexperience. I did not ask for payment up front and ended up working 8 hours on something that was never paid for. In those moments you feel quite foolish.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers today?
Creative community is essential. I talk about pricing, hours/ work schedule, critique and books with my art friends. It’s very relieving and eye-opening. Please find those in your orbit and unite. By that I mean, don’t always be looking up at artists further in their careers. Instead Pull your face down and lift your mutuals up who may very well be wrestling with the same problems as you.