The Freelance Game

Chantelle Grady

The Freelance Game

  • words jacqueline raposo
  • photographs chantelle grady

The
Freelance
Game

A young freelancer designer looking to grow her business, Larissa Fatseas yearned for fulfilling work. As is the plight of many a freelance artist, she couldn’t see a clear path upon which to travel. Looking to see how others made it work, she clicked through images on Pinterest, Kinfolk, and Cereal. For creative inspiration, absorbed the work of local artists and took in the changing environment around her. When she landed upon food stylist and photographer Chantelle’s Grady’s website, she knew she had hit upon something special.

Lost amidst the crisp photographs of comforting plates of food and the clear lines of Chantelle’s warm and inviting composition, Larissa fell smitten. Heels dug in deep, she discovered common interests and shared connections. She poured over images from Chantelle’s publications — Dévorer Montréal, Sourced Cities San Francisco, and A Little Relish Montréal — and the styling she’d done for clients like Food & Wine, Real Living, Condé Nast Traveler, and Vogue China. Following an inspiration of “she is where I want to be”, Larissa sent an email, hoping to connect personally.

Chantelle replied.

 

chantelle grady


In 2013 — thousands of miles apart in their solitary studios — Larissa found a mentor in Chantelle. They recognized a mutual need for space and quiet in order to create, and the similar unattainable expectations they set for themselves as introverted perfectionists. And they both celebrated and commiserated working within a world where each player must continually forge their own path.

With years of experience behind her, Chantelle advised above all to “keep it simple. The best things have come when I’ve kept it simple. I try to do that in all aspects of my life. That’s when I’m the happiest and most creative, and things work the best.” Larissa grew in confidence, focusing “to do the best work I can do, to enjoy what I create, and to let the cards fall as they may.”

Larissa’s business has grown, indeed. Chantelle has lived through massive moves across the globe, first from Australia to Montreal and back to Australia, then to San Francisco and back to Brisbane again. Their careers continue on the malleable paths that their intrinsic creative desires require. In a moment of thankful reflection, Larissa recently reached out to Chantelle, connecting and reflecting on where they’ve come from, and where they both hope to go.

The Freelance Game

Has freelance always been the right fit for you?

Yes and no. I love freelancing, but I guess I lack a confidence to go out there and get enough work. That’s probably my biggest struggle. Ideally, I would love to be a full-time freelancer. But financially, I need to throw myself out there more, to sell what I do, and to get more work.

What do you fear most in terms of throwing yourself out there?

I never feel as though I do the very best that I have in my head. I guess it comes down to the level of expectation I have of myself.  I’m sure there’s a lot of creatives out there that feel that way; perfectionists.

Regarding that creative world, do you consider it a dog-eat-dog or a pay-it-forward kind of environment?

I think there are different kinds of people within it. There are a lot of pay-it-forward people who help each other out, and there is a community of people who are competitive and keep their cards close to their chest. You need a bit of that. But to get far and to really enjoy the work that you do there needs to be a lot of kindness regarding offering advice and how much you give to people. That will get you further.

 

 

What was it about me—a complete stranger at the time I approached you—that made you feel you should open up and help me out?

I guess it’s because I know how it feels to want to get somewhere and not be quite sure how to do it. I’m willing to help in any way I can anyone in that position. I don’t have all the answers, obviously, but if I can help then I would love to. And you came across as being a really nice and friendly person.

So there wasn’t anything specific: my tone, language, questions, or anything?

Well, I had worked with your brother before, so there was that connection. And that we had both worked with ColorCheifs was mind blowing. But sometimes you get a feeling from a person that they appreciate things. I’m more than willing to help out with anybody who appreciates the advice that you give.

Hearing how you got started gave me that extra bit of confidence to try and keep pursuing this freelance dream. I was a little bit of a lost puppy for a bit there.

I think we all are. Glad that I could help.

The Freelance Game

Has anyone else since reached out to you in a similar way?

I have met people along the way who I’ve tried to help. Some, I couldn’t; maybe they were looking for me to give them an exact plan of what they should be doing, and I wasn’t able to do that. But it’s helped me as well, because I feel a lot of the time that I’m on this path and I don’t really know what it is, and I think that that’s probably the case for a lot of people. For me, talking to others who voice that they aren’t quite sure where to go or who ask for advice makes me feel like, “Okay, well I’m not the only one either.” It’s nice to relate to others. I think we’re all on this path to somewhere, and it’s a bit of a foggy path. That’s just that life. It’s normal.

Just to compare how our relationship has developed over three years, how would that be different to some of the other people that have reached out to you in the past? Have you remained in touch with them?

I have a little bit with some, others I haven’t. With one in particular, I met her and offered advice and I guess it wasn’t what she wanted to hear, because I never heard from her ever again. I don’t know, maybe she just didn’t like me. The thing that I loved about you is that you appreciate things, and you’ve been so kind back: thinking to send a Christmas card has been a really nice gesture. Not many people do that anymore. I consider you a really kind and thoughtful person.

 

Thank you! Being able to bring people together and learn from each other is a big part of what I enjoy. How we have communicated is what has bound us despite time and miles. Speaking of which, while moving back to Australia, you had a bit of a break from work. What was the hardest thing artistically about that?

I sort of lost my identity a bit, because I became a full-time mom and we kept moving countries. There was a period where I just was a bit lost. I tried to take on bits of work that came my way, but things were a bit clouded. I’m the sort of person that needs to be in my own head space for ideas to come, and silence is when I feel most inspired. I need that. I’ve always needed that time; even as a kid I used to sit in the backyard after school in silence. I needed that time just to feel myself, I guess. That’s when my ideas always seem to come–when I have this time to myself.

Now, what are you itching to work on or work towards?

Now we’re in Brisbane and I’m hoping we can stay here for a while. I’d like to establish myself here as being a stylist specializing in food, and be open to opportunities that come along. You have to say “yes” to experiences that come along, and then do your best at them. That’s hard for a lot of people; fear gets in the way. I’m just trying to be open.

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