How to Balance a Creative Side Hustle Alongside a Full Time Job

As a close-knit team of creative thinkers and doers, we are always excited to hear about what each other gets up to in their spare time. We are particularly spoiled in this area. Many of our team are active in pursuing hobbies and interests; from running marathons or practising yoga, to creative writing and illustration. One of these is Account Exec, Hannah.

A talented illustrator by trade, Hannah’s beautiful illustrations draw inspiration from the natural world and beyond. At Fiasco, Hannah assists with the execution and delivery of projects across brand and digital. We asked Hannah how she balances both aspects of her working life, and how having a creative hustle helps to fuel creativity during the 9-5.

Image shows embroidered pomegranate patches by Hannah Cryer
Image credit: Hannah Grace OC

I’ve always found it slightly baffling that so much of our working lives can be determined by the decisions that we make at a young age. We start making these choices when we are still forming opinions, still defining what interests us, and before we have the life experience and knowledge to make an informed decision about what suits us as people. All we have to go on is which classes we enjoy at school.

Early on, I learnt that there is power in changing your mind. And thankfully, I’ve been both lucky and empowered enough to do so. This has helped me to define what I want to do with my life, and in the context of work – to decide which aspects are most important to me. After some years, I’ve concluded that, for me, it is a combination of two things: creativity and community.

Freelance illustration

Although I have always been a pen-in-hand kind of gal, it took me a while to consider that I could actually make a living from drawing. In my earlier years, my understanding of a creative career was fairly one-dimensional. I sort of assumed I had to become an artist, or nothing – and I had no intention of becoming an artist! But there is so much in between that constitutes a creative career.

I started out working as a textile print designer. It’s a great example of art being applied to everyday life in a way that feels really tangible. Print design also requires turning your hand to many different artistic techniques, and by exploring various styles of artwork I created a broad print portfolio.

Illustration came a little later, when I found myself wanting only to draw in a singular style. My illustrations are largely based on and inspired by the world around me. A consistent practice of observing and recording is what fed my creativity for a number of years.

After some time, I began to feel less fulfilled by what I was doing. Ultimately I came to the realisation that an entirely solo endeavour wasn’t for me. Thankfully, it was fairly apparent to me what was missing – a sense of community. Collaborating with others and belonging to something bigger.

Image shows artwork by Hannah Cryer
Image credit: Hannah Grace OC

Finding Fiasco

It was also during my time freelancing that I discovered how much I enjoy the organisational side of things (you wear many hats as a freelancer). When I saw a job role come up at Fiasco I thought I’d take a chance, and here I am!

Now, I work full time at Fiasco and flex my freelance illustration work around it. In any remaining hours, I can usually be found outside looking at trees and/or flowers. For me this is a winning combo.

Whilst my illustration work requires a directly creative input, my role at Fiasco brings its own kind of creativity. Here, I’m constantly exposed to a number of incredibly creative people. It’s so nice when you see someone’s personality shine through in their work, or in how they choose to approach a problem. It’s even nicer to know the person behind the work! I feel very lucky to be able to work with such a talented bunch of humans day-to-day. Although client services may not be considered overtly creative, the consistent exposure to creativity in a more general sense is absolutely part of it.

Image shows blackberry enamel pin badges created by Hannah Cryer
Image credit: Hannah Grace OC

Balancing both

Of course, balancing a creative side hustle with a full-time job is not without its challenges. It can be tricky when both aspects of work are busy. But ultimately, both sides offer me different things.

This is helped somewhat by Fiasco’s general ethos to work and the policies they put in place; such as flexible working hours and Summer Hours. These help to carve out space for pursuits outside of the typical 9-5. It’s definitely a theme with others at Fiasco too. People here have all kinds of interests outside of work, which in itself is inspiring and motivates me to keep doing what I love.

Through my career, I’ve never been tied to a singular goal. This has given me the space to explore and end up with a combination of roles. I think this is something that sadly schools fail to mention as an option. Looking back, I’m grateful not to have taken a predefined path and to have had the space to explore and find a balance that works for me.

How to balance a creative side hustle alongside a full time job 1

Hannah’s illustration work is currently on sale at  Five Acre Farm Shop, Artichoke Wholefoods, and Black Swan Arts. You can also see more of Hannah’s illustration work over on her site.

How to balance a creative side hustle alongside a full time job 3

Words By Hannah Cryer


Do you have a project in mind?

Let us know more. We’d love to have a chat to see how we could help.

📬  From the Studio

A bitesize roundup of creative inspiration. Delivered straight to your inbox at 4pm every Friday.