Design insights & tutorials.

Blank Canvas: Where Do You Freelance?


This installment of Blank Canvas is directed towards you freelancers and self-employed illustrators and designers out there. Go Media wants to know: where do you work?

There are quite a bit of options for those who can choose where to get their work done. Some prefer the “Fortress of Solitude” route, while others need some sort fo social interaction whether it be a coffeeshop, library or perhaps even sharing a coworking space with others.

So where do you work? What decisions led to that choice, and has it changed over the years? Pros and cons? Wishlist? Advice? Warnings? Let us know in the comments section below.

I’ll start things off with my situation:

I primarily work from a dedicated second bedroom in my apartment. I have plenty of space for a large work table, a drawing table (which I use for storage more than anything else as of late) as well as bookshelves, a flat file, etc. The solitude of working from home can be an oasis at times, allowing me to focus on my work and keep me clear from distractions, but it can also get to be a bit isolating at times.

I’m working towards making more of an effort to get out and work at local coffeeshops and restaurants to break up the cycle, but many times I find myself distracted and far less productive when I am working away from home.

With the internet, mobile phones and laptops/smartphones, there are many options for me to work away from home on the business side of my illustration and design work, however I find the creative process needs to be done primarily at “Command Central”. From back when I was freelancing around some regular off-site work, I’ve grown into the habit of associating the work with the location. Perhaps it’s just the opportunity to work distraction-free, but I am sure at least some of it is just plain habit.

Recently I’ve learned the finer distinction between introverted and extroverted personality types (it’s probably not what you think) and discovered that I lean towards the introverted side, which also plays a factor in my choice of workspace as well. Introverted types aren’t necessarily anti- or non-social, they just tend to “recharge their batteries” and work/concentrate better in solo.

OK readers, your turn—GO!

About the Author, George Coghill

George Coghill isa freelance humorous illustrator/cartoonist specializing in mascot cartoon character design & cartoon logos. His cartooning & illustration work can be seen at and at his cartooning and illustration blog. Be sure to follow me on Twitter here!
Discover More by George Coghill


We want to hear what you have to say. Do you agree? Do you have a better way to approach the topic? Let the community know by joining the discussion.

  • TheCosmonaut

    I work from home 100% of the time. I will alternate between my home office (a dedicated room) which I use for hardcore concentration and my living room (with TV, dog, girlfriend, and other distractions) for a more “social” feel, but on all fronts I'm WAY more productive in my fortress of solitude than in an environment with more people (be it an office, a coffeeshop, or whatever).

  • two_eyescreative

    Working in the 'Home Alone' mode… and loving it…

    With the vast internet resources at the end of my fingertips, Skype, Twitter, Facebook etc., etc. – and having experienced many other work modes: temping, part time – in and out of the house, full time agency and in-house environments, as worker bee and manager – this was by far the best choice for me.

    I find that, other than client/supplier contact, I am quite happy and contented with this modus operandi.

    Yes, you may describe me as an introvert.

  • Oscar Cole

    I work from home most of the time. It can be great because I can see my kids whenever I can, other times it can be distracting because I can see my kids WHENEVER I CAN! :) All in all its good, I however would prefer to one day have a decent sized studio, however cramped it may get having 3 computers in the house…Its working for now.

  • Laura Fisher

    I work in my home office some of the time and in a coworking space, Workantile Exchange, some of the time.

  • Bearpig

    I share a studio space with a few other creatives and find that my productivity and workload has skyrocketed since moving there from working from home. I find that being able to bounce ideas off like minded people really helps – and if i need some quietness, on go the headphones!

  • clustrmedia web design

    Since I just started freelancing full time less than a month ago I have worked exclusively from my home office. We don't have any coworking spaces here (yet) so my only other option would be an executive suite, which are pricey.

    Maybe by the dead of winter cabin fever will catch up with me and I'll be itching to get out. :)

  • OverIthisWire

    I work from home- My studio is built all the way on the other side of my house. It's not connected to the house, it's a separate building. It's far away from any distractions and, is a great place to really focus & concentrate. There's a nice amount of room as well. Inside you will find my large format printer, my computer, my desk + wacom ect. I enjoy working from home, especially in this economy. Being from long island the closest place for me to get a job as a designer is far west from where i live. So the commute would be 45 minutes, so saving on gas is a big plus. I remember at my old job, we would have to car pool just so we could all afford the gas money to get there. As much as i love my home studio, i do wish i was working with other designers by my side- so if i needed any advice on a project or criticism I'd have them right next to me to dish it out. That's the only disadvantage. I at least want to invest in a notebook so that when I'm in my room just hanging out i can get ideas out. Or work late night without having to come into the office. I will say from my past job experiences- I've come to find that working alone works best for me and my personality.

  • jasonbaldwin

    Funny. I've got the opposite problem. There are too many distractions at home (TV shows to watch! Chores to do! Stuff in the refrigerator!). I find I'm much more productive in a coffee shop — there's an independent place in Indianapolis that I really like, and the coffee's great — in two-hour bursts. It may sound strange, but by the time I get a cup of coffee, haul out my laptop, power cord, mouse, sketchpad, etc., it's too much trouble to get up and even got to the restroom, because I don't want to pack up all that stuff. I stay planted in that chair and get stuff *done*.

    It's a system, and it works for me.

  • supaspoida

    Right now I'm working from a sustainable living/co-working/reforestation space on a small island near Bocas del Toro, Panama. We get our power from the sun when we can, use filtered rain water, and eat fresh fruits and vegetables grown locally.

    Previously I spent two years working almost exclusively from my apartment in Brooklyn. While I love NYC, after that long in an urban environment it feels great to get back to nature. I've been here for a month so far, with one month left to go, and I'm definitely feeling rejuvenated creatively.

    Oh, and the snorkeling is amazing!

  • Catherine Azzarello

    I have a dedicated office @ home, but like to work from my laptop in other areas when researching, writing or checking email. The deck when weather's good, kitchen table with morning coffee, sofa in living room on “off” hours.

    When I'm working in Photoshop or Illustrator (with pen & tablet) I'm in office on iMac with Pandora or going. Most of the time it's quiet while kids @ school and husband @ work. If there are kids around during day and I'm coding, I just close the door.

    Have two dogs to keep me company and with teens, the house is Grand Central Station in late afternoons. So the quiet during the day is perfect.

    My problem isn't distractions, it's getting out of the house at all! I get wrapped up in projects and neglect my and the dogs' exercise.

  • Annukka Leppänen

    I share a studio, where I go when I really have to get serious work done. There are no distractions there. But most of the the time I work from home, but it's not as efficient. Scething and writing I sometimes do in a coffee shop because for some reason it helps me to consentrate.

  • andy marshall

    We work from home.
    Since I got made redundant a year ago my wife and myself setup on our own, and to keep costs down and so we could be more able to do stuff together.

    It's always a noisy, manic place as we home educate our kids, so the occasional interruption to look at the latest lego spaceship is unavoidable, but largely it works well for us.

  • thisnorthernboy

    I currently freelance from home in what I'd love to call an office but really is a tip. I'm currently looking at either a complete revamp of my office space or looking to find some shared desk space locally.
    I find home a massive distraction to work, to easy to switch on the TV, make another cup of coffee… I'm much more productive in an office of some kind.
    There isn't masses of shared office space near to me, Central London seems to be riddled with them at the minute, I'm just that bit farther out unfortunately.
    If I had a little capital I'd be looking for a run down warehouse to convert into some kind of creative hub – although that may have to wait until I win the lottery!

  • Fiona

    I sometimes freelance evenings and weekends as I also have a full-time job. I work from home in part of the hallway. There's enough room for a computer desk and if I want to draw or paint I use the kitchen table. Not so long ago, I freelanced full time with this setup too.

    The main problem is with the computer being in the centre of the house, rather than a dedicated work space it's hard to switch off 'work-mode'. It's also distracting having other people walking past when you're trying to work.

    This is all because I'm still living at home. When I get my own place I'd like to set up a separate home office space to work in.

  • designbyone

    I use a third bedroom as a dedicated office. Every now and then I'll take the MacBook Pro outside to get fresh air. I've tried working in coffee shops or in the park downtown and it just doesn't work for me. I need my music going and a bucket load of uninterrupted focus.

    Things I have learned while working alone at home:
    1. Get up and do something different at least once an hour. I find that if I don't force myself to get up and change activities that I can sit in front of the screen for hours on end. This is really bad for the eyes and for the attitude.
    2. I have had both a light and dark paint on the walls of the office. I find that a lighter color really helps with my mood and creativity. The dark walls made my office feel like a cave.
    3. Have plenty of shelving. I own a ton of magazines, books, etc., for reference and inspiration. I don't think I'll ever run out of the need for more shelving.
    4. Use the phone every now and then. It is just to easy these days to have all conversations as emails, texts, tweets, Facebook, IM, etc…
    5. Last but not least, own a fax machine. I don't know why some companies feel that this antiquated piece of machinery is still necessary. Sadly, they do.

    In short, working at home is great. The only drawback would be the isolation from other creative type people.

  • Simon H.

    I'd say almost anyplace I can plug my laptop in and that has WiFi, but my wife and I are in the process of putting an office space in the spare bedroom of our apartment.
    And Goshen, the town I live in, has a wonderful coffee shop (the Electric Brew, that serves stuff as good as *Bucks but wayyyyy cheaper :-)

  • iddesign

    ============= Freelancing at home and tips ================

    I work my big and small design projects always on my room. I have a solid backup archives section. Also magazines and an effective bookmarks base of data so I get what I need in seconds. It's VERY important to categorize your bookmarks. I use Firefox which has a great way to sort your preferred websites for further information / inspiration. The room has a special desk where I develop my design projects along with my keyboards and studio monitors when I do music production.

    ================== End of Transmission :) ==================

  • George Coghill

    Now *that* sounds like an ideal workspace!

  • George Coghill

    Great comments so far, I love hearing how everyone handles their working setup. Sounds like most of the comments are “work from home and fine with it” types. For the most part I am as well, but I feel I need to get out and about more.

    One doesn't realize how much of their social interactions revolve around the workplace until you find yourself the only one at your workplace!

  • George Garrastegui

    I work all over the place:)

    I freelance At an In-House Studio during the mid-week and then I use home base for the majority of my creative thinking! For other freelance project or just my own set of creative ventures…

    not a fan of the coffee shop idea.. i need the large real estate of my at home screen and the music need to be pumping.

    oh and the java need to be hot!

    just my 2 cents!

  • Burleson

    I work from a home office, but I've found that I have to get out, even if I just pop in on a few clients once a week. It just helps plus I don't feel “locked in”. I do check email from the porch and write down my “to do list” from there and come in to the “office” to knock work out.

    The wife and kids know that “when Daddy's working” he's not really here. If you're not bleeding profusely, don't even knock on the door.

  • ivanlongland

    After running a Design studio in the uk for 10 years, I am currently back to freelancing BUT I now live in Thailand. I rent the (Now unused) Showroom on a posh housing estate overlooking the quiet swimming pool and tropical gardens… It's great for inspiration and peace, it's also very inexpensive ($120 a month!!) working from home, for me, is hopeless. I prefer to get up and go somewhere to work, at home I tend to start work in my pajamas!! Bangkok is a great hub for business and the workload is very varied…

  • katelynd

    I work 100% from home as well. I balance my two jobs (mother/housewife and graphic designer) as best as I can. I'm running between photo manipulations and juice spills. As much as I would love my own studio, it's unrealistic seeing as I am all the family my daughters have.

  • Gavin

    I am currently working on the road. I create the screen-casts for psdtuts, manage a small number of WordPress sites, have started recording screen-casts/walkthroughs for online products and some personal projects.

    I have a New Macbook Pro and a cheap Bamboo touch/pen with a large and heavy Rode mic. A lot to drag around.

    Currently in San Francisco till xmas then spending the new year in Sydney.

    The benefits – Seeing new places and feeling somewhat free.

    The parts I struggle with – Communication, which I thought I was good at, but online is a lot different than in person. Remembering time differences when planning was a kicker. But I am overcoming this now.

    Would love to one day have a small studio with all the tech goodies I can get ;-)

  • Design Nomad

    I've worked as a freelancer only for 15 years but the problem was I wasn't able to make my clients pay in time (Sometimes they just disappear… LOL!).

    Well. Somewhere along the way I decided it wasn't funny anymore so I applied to a job in a company and slowly went back to freelancing but this time is selected clients only and they have to pay at least 50% of the job the moment I deliver it.

    When I'm freelancing I work from home but I'm thinking about sharing a place with some other colleagues somewhere.

  • Dubai Jobs

    Freelance jobs will give you the chance to work at your home at the most convenient of your time

  • Dan

    Excellent job..
    dizi izle

  • Freelance Jobs

    Freelancing had been my job for about three years now, I work home 7 times a week just to meet my deadlines as what my clients told me.

  • Sectional Sofas

    I’m also a certified freelancer and working at home using my desktop. :)

  • dr mustafa eraslan

    thank you very much