Creative Problem Solving for Artists: Go to Plan B

Artist Backup Plan

backup planHave you thought of a backup plan for your creative career? While you probably have no intention of giving up your art, sometimes life has a way of surprising us. What if like illustrator Holly DeWolf, you suffer a serious hand injury? Or what if your equipment is stolen or ruined by a storm? As remote as these possibilities may be, it’s a good idea to think about and prepare for a possible plan B. In this last segment of our Creative Problem Solving series (below), DeWolf offers tips for creating a backup plan for those unforeseeable events in your art career. Read the entire Creative Problem Solving series here.

Keep creating and good luck!


Go to Plan B by Holly DeWolf

Everyone should have some sort of backup plan. Call it plan B or a disaster plan—just make sure you have one. Getting munched on by a dog helped me devise a blueprint for disaster. What I learned from my hand injury was that I needed to reevaluate the importance of what I do and how I do it. I’d never given much thought to the concept of a game plan before that. Worst-case scenarios often have a funny way of forcing your hand, so to speak.

“Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional.” —Roger Crawford

The first thing I looked into was insurance. I’d had no idea there was such a thing as dismemberment insurance for artists. Who knew? It only makes sense, if you really think about it. The concept of dismemberment is pretty gruesome, and it doesn’t just happen to zombies in movies. I have come to expect the unexpected because, as it turns out, life is funny like that.

We tend to have insurance for our computers, cars and houses. These three things can be replaced if they happen to blow up or fall apart. Fingers, hands, legs and eyes do not grow back. The reality is we can have accidents and can run into man-eating dogs from time to time. Protect your assets.

So, say you get sidelined. Can you find some sort of additional income? What other creative assets do you have on the table? If you don’t know, you’d better get thinking. If you do, start coming up with plans. Breaking Into Freelance Illustration came about after that lovely pooch bit me. It was a concept I had shelved five years ago. I’d had to think fast to find some kind of income while my hand healed, so I took a chance, and the rest is history as they say. The funny thing is I have not ever classified myself as a writer. I mostly went with “idea generator.” Either way, this was a good move in the right direction.

A good plan is to make sure you have some backup funds set aside for any temporary setback in your assignments. And don’t go it alone. Set up a support system of friends, family and a really good babysitter.

Holly DeWolf is an illustrator, mentor, DYI’er, blogger and author of the book Breaking Into Freelance Illustration: The Guide for Artists, Designers and Illustrators. She currently lives in New Brunswick, Canada, living the creative freelancer’s dream.

Excerpted from Breaking Into Freelance Illustration © 2009 by Holly DeWolf. Used with the kind permission HOW Books, an imprint of F+W, a Content + eCommerce Company. Visit or call (800)258-0929 to obtain a copy.


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