Solutions For Freelance Illustrators

by ryan

Health Concerns & Solutions For Freelance Illustrators


If you’re a full time illustrator, you’re at the whim of your deadlines. A project sometimes require you to pull several all-nighters. Over the years, lack of sleep and sitting for long periods of time painting or drawing on the computer may lead to severe health problems.

While I always say to be persistent and pursue your career passionately, if there is one thing that is more important than your art and your success, it is your health. ALWAYS PUT YOUR HEALTH FIRST. Don’t wait until the pain in your hips, knees and joints become so unbearable that you can no longer sit.

Here are 4 things you can do to keep yourself healthy while working as a full time illustrator:

1. Good sitting posture.

Visit for a detailed instructions on how to sit

2. The Right Equipment

The Wacom Cintiq

The Wacom Cintiq is my best friend. From an artist’s perspective, it’s definitely one of the best inventions ever. The reason I recommend it is because it’s makes digital drawing easy and increases your efficiency which means less time struggling with the mouse or pen tablet. Less time on the computer= less health problems and risks.

I have the Wacom DTK2100 21-Inch Pen Display 21UX and I use it with the ergonomic arm. Had it for about 3 years now and it still works amazingly. If you do purchase a Cintiq, also consider a screen protector to prevent scratches. The screen protector not only prevents scratches, it also prolongs the life of the pen nibs (the pen tip).

I’ve gone through LOTS of pen nibs but since I’ve placed the screen protector on, I’ve been using the same nib for over a year with no sign of wear and tear. I’ll include the purchase links below.

Wacom CINTIQ 22HD Pen Display – Graphics Monitor with Digital Pen

Wacom DTK2100 21-Inch Pen Display – Graphics Monitor with Digital Pen

Wacom Cintiq 24HD Graphic Monitor (CINTIQ24HD)

POSRUS Antiglare Touch Screen Protector for Wacom Cintiq 21UX DTK-2100 2nd Generation

Ergonomic Arm for your Cintiq/ computer screen

This was one of the BEST purchases I’ve ever made. While the Wacom Cintiq allowed me to draw directly on the screen, it still had some movement limitations and looking down all the time caused a lot of soreness in my neck.

The Ergonomic arm allowed me to move my Cintiq however I pleased (in all sorts of directions and heights!). The arm allows me to sit tall and draw comfortably.

Ergonomic arms can be very costly but after lots of research I found one that had awesome reviews for just a fraction of the cost. The company has a 2 variations of the Ergotron LX Desk Mount LCD Arm. I got the version with the Tall Pole. I find that the tall pole is not necessary so if you do decide to make a purchase, go for the short pole, it’s cheaper and would work the same. I’ve included the links to purchase your arm below at Amazon:

LX Desk Mount LCD Arm- Tall pole

3. Exercise 3+ times a week

To counter all the sitting and drawing, it is absolutely necessary for freelance illustrators to exercise and stretch regularly. The most common complaint is, “I don’t have time”.

Look at it this way, if you’re working 8 hrs a day, there is really no reason why you can’t devote 1 hr for your health. Inactivity can lead to serious health conditions. Some of my illustration friends who have been in the industry longer than I, are already seeking physio treatments for their pain.

I recommend yoga which incorporates both physical strength building and stretching. Yoga is also soothing for the mind which is why it’s on the top of my list.

4. Get enough Sleep

This is one that I still struggle with from time to time. Sleep deprivation leads to fatigue, aching muscles, depression, hallucinations, increases stress and overall affects the brain and cognitive functions. The key is to learn to not accept more work than you can handle.

A balanced life style takes work and effort but the rewards are life changing and plentiful. Not only will you experience the best life has to offer but you’ll be able to continue to create wonderful artwork for many more years to come.

I hope you find this article helpful. If you enjoyed this article or have any useful tips, share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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