How to deal with burnout by finding creative freedom the experience of artist Vollut
My name is Lenar Singatullov aka Vollut. Since 2013 I’ve been working in the advertising industry as a motion designer and later an art director. I had no special education and started freelancing when I was 15. It was a very chaotic journey at the end of which I came to complete burnout and a reconsideration of my life goals. At this moment, I feel like I’ve wasted a couple of years on things I didn’t care about and didn’t want to do. I did get some money while working full-time as a freelancer and I then proceeded to spend it all within a year and a half to find my creative freedom.
Happiness and Mental Health come first
I think there are some people who like to control everything, especially their lives. I’m one of them, but I was taught not to be like that. Stability, predictability, and long-term agreements. The longer I lived in this paradigm, the worse it felt. And I didn’t even understand why. Compensating a lack of happiness with shopping and traveling twice a year worked the first couple of years, and then it too became a part of a routine. It wasn’t easy to understand why exactly I felt so bad. Everyone around me was doing the same thing. Working the same job, talking to the same clients, and working overtime like me. Why couldn’t I just enjoy my life as everyone does? The answer was – lack of control. I’m sure that a good psychiatrist would’ve told me this at the first meeting, but my introspection was much-much slower 4 years to be exact.
I quit to work for myself. The first thing on my list – find new cool clients. I made a new showreel, sent a ton of e-mails, and made my research. No one wanted to work with a freelancer without some big agencies and clients on his CV. So I started with smaller ones, slowly making my way to the top. The lesson I learned during this period is “if you want something – you should ask”. It’s crazy how far you can go with that kind of mindset. I’m yet to master it but it gets easier. At some point, I started making more money than on my full-time job. Way more money.
Focusing more on artistic expression
Instead of buying myself a new car, a bigger apartment, or some fancy pants I decided to take even more control of my life. I stopped working altogether. After building my relationships with the biggest agencies and clients like Apple, Microsoft and Samsung I simply stopped freelancing. This was a life-changing decision that finally made me feel fulfilled and happy with what I do. 2020 was the beginning of my self-exploration. It started with a pretty simple thing – I turned my favorite album cover into animated 3D artwork.
The process of creation felt so native and fluid to me. Like something that you do unconsciously. Letting my mind go in any direction is challenging but so gratifying. Instead of going back to freelance I just started doing my own art. I know that a lot of people combine commercial and personal work, but I can’t be fully invested in two things at the same time. Finally, it all made sense to me. I worked so hard to afford this time. My income dropped to zero for almost a year but I was finally honest with myself. I want to be an independent artist. The thing that would scare the hell out of me a couple of years ago is my purpose now.
Once I declared that to myself and invested all of my hard work into this goal the money started to come back in a very surprising way. Brands started to reach out to me as an artist, asking me to make anything I want. And offered me money. Until I did it the first time I couldn’t believe that it was legal, there must be some pitfalls. There are none to my wonder.
I still have bad days but it’s nothing compared to my feelings back when I was a designer. My life is unpredictable, my income is very shifty and work is very challenging but I love it all from the bottom of my heart.
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