Pros and Cons as a Freelance Artist

I went full-time freelance almost 3 years ago now.  A lot of things changed, clients have come and gone  and I learned a few things. I like to organize my thoughts in this blog to serve as a reminder to me to prevent repeating mistakes.

Being a full-time freelancer for 2 years and 8 months, I’ve gotten too used to it that I am no longer confident I’m ready to go back into a studio. However, change is needed and this is something I am looking forward to because of reasons stated below:


1. Inconsistent Schedule

  • Getting sidetrack is a lot easier because there is no boss that will get mad if you leave early for work to go visit a friend, or to visit a long lost relative, or to simply watch an upcoming movie, or to get a vacation you’ve always wanted. I tried and failed again and again to keep a strict schedule. It’s quite common to try to make up your lost time by staying up late and it is a vicious cycle.

2. Nightmare Clients

  • I had a client who started out with paying me very well but after a few months, they kept low-balling my prices until I was earning less than when I started working for them. You should be rewarded for working better and longer for a client and not the opposite. I also had a client who started asking me to do things I am not experienced with like video editing, animation, etc. This is very frustrating and will just sidetrack you on your career path. It’s possible to get to this point if you don’t have a fixed rate and negotiations happen frequently. When this happens, it’s time to talk to them and stop.
  • Always get your work in a contract, and make sure there are limits to revisions and payment dates. If not, clients can easily screw you.

3. Working on Holidays

  • A deadline is a deadline and it doesn’t matter if there is a holiday going on. Thankfully, I was lucky to have long deadlines but it doesn’t change the fact that I sometimes have to work on weekends or holidays. Some clients still email or message me during these awkward times.

4. Overlooked Costs

  • Other than the fees you have to pay for using Paypal, or your  Bank, which you should always consider when charging, there are also other things that affect how much you earn. For example, if you charge $600 for a painting but end up using two weeks to do it, then it means you are earning significantly low. I noticed that I can only do around 4-6 hours of real painting work in a day. Things like revisions, slow client feedback, and miscommunications all add up to wasted hours. Make sure track how much time you are spending per piece to avoid being inefficient.

5. Multitasking is a Must

  • To try to reduce wasted time, I recommend having at least 1 long term client work and 1-2 extra client works that you can do in between the main one. I know it is very difficult to try working on 2 or more projects within a day but it can help you be more efficient.

6. Non-Art Skills

  • You need to understand marketing, contracts, excel sheets, taxes, accounting, other miscellaneous skills. You can always hire an accountant or assistant to do these things but it is critical you understand all the necessary steps especially the contracts.

7. Client Droughts

  • As I am writing this, I don’t have any active clients. I have been extremely lucky for the past 2 years because clients contacted me on their own. This time, I have to be more active and try to contact them instead. Sustainability is scarier as a freelancer. The less popular you are, the more difficult it gets so I hope you saved enough cash!

8. No Health, Retirement, Insurance Plans

  • Clients do not provide you with benefits like medical care services, or insurance, paid vacation, free education, etc. This is something you must also consider when charging. Other than this, it is harder to discipline yourself to stay healthy and keep exercising because you don’t have office mates who persuade you to join them in the gym nearby.

9. Rarity of Concept Work

  • Most freelance work are for illustrations because the ideas are already set, they just need someone to paint it up. Concept work needs a fast turn-around and it is more efficient to do that in-house. There are exceptions of course but it is only given to a few elite artists who have a reputation and good connections.

10. Difficult to Collaborate

  • In a studio, you can just ask the person near you for help on something you don’t understand. In freelance, you are on your own so I recommend getting other freelance friends so you can all hangout online and ask each other easily.


1. Vacation When You Don’t Have a Deadline

  • Just last week I only worked for like 2 days, and the rest were spent on various meetups with friends, relatives, and vacationing out of town. This should enable you to reduce stress levels when needed.

2. Earn and Save More

  • Compared to when I was employed locally in a 3rd world country, I can earn more in freelance because I get paid in Euros or Dollars. Most of my foreign clients simply have more buying power and understand art better than most of my previous local clients.

3. No Commutes

  • This is huge plus especially in my country where people spend around 4hrs a day just traveling back and forth in sweaty polluted traffic jams every work day.

4. Live Anywhere

  • Client don’t care where you live so long as you can do the work and submit it on time. Getting paid in a 1st world country rate while living in a country with a low cost of living will make you feel rich! You can also live with your family or kids and spend more quality time with them.

5. Choose your hours

  • You can arrange your schedule to start the day with personal stuff to reduce stress and have an incentive of waking up early. I usually spend my free time browsing random stuff, looking at art, hanging out with my girlfriend and other friends, reading and making tutorials, watching movies, etc. It was initially hard to prioritize personal time because I was scared of not meeting deadlines, but I have learned the value in doing so. Try to fit in at least 30 minutes to study art.

6. Nobody Can Judge

  • Nobody will know if you’ve taken a bath or not, or if you’re wearing pants or not. Being freelance means all you need to do is use the computer to do work. Anything you do in between is up to you without anyone looking behind your back.

7. Ability to choose work

  • In a studio, you can get stuck in an IP for years, in freelance, you can work on a lot of different projects simultaneously. You are also free to reject any work that doesn’t fit your goals. For work that you do not like, I recommend charging higher than your usual so it’s a win-win.


Being a freelancer illustrator/concept designer is hard!

You have to be very organized, disciplined, popular with the right connections, and skilled in your craft, to succeed. Only a few people can handle going full-time freelance because the stakes are high. The freedom you can get comes at a price.

Going freelance means you have control. This sounds good on paper but in reality, it means having more responsibilities and more uncertainty. On the other hand, getting in a studio depends on the studio you get into. It depends whether you go stagnant and get bored, or you get to grow in all sorts of areas and be the best artist you can be. Plus, you get benefits and won’t worry as much for the future.

Right now, I’m in a weird spot where I’m experiencing the client drought and I’m beginning to think it would be easier to go back to work in a studio to gain more reputation. I honestly think my skills are already up to par with a lot of international artists, however, I’m still a no-name which means it is difficult to get high paying clients. To give an idea, I consider clients who pay $1000 or more per illustration as high paying. This is something that is unfortunately rare for me but common to other successful freelancers.

There are clients like Wizards of the Coasts that can give artists continuous years of work. Hollywood also enables freelancers to live a comfortable life because of the high pay. I’ve personally met a few of these artists who travel the world while still working for popular movies, living like rock stars.

I’m far from achieving this status. It is the end-game for freelancers after-all. The simplest way to get there is to get awesome and unique enough that people notice your own stuff. Another option is by joining a known studio to work on a popular IP. Doing fan art is also one sure way to get likes. These are probably the best ways to get your name on the radar which should make your life easier as an artist. It sounds easy but the journey will be tough. Whatever I will take, I’ll do my best.

What do you guys think? Do you prefer to be a full-time freelancer? Why or why not?

Feel free to discuss in the comments or message me directly at

BIR Registration for Freelance Artists in the Philippines

Hi guys, I made a guide on how to be a registered freelancer in the Philippines like me. Hopefully this is clear enough to help anyone interested.

To be honest, I’m not yet sure how much the pros and cons weight in the long term by doing this. I know most people will say that you can get away without ever registering but if this is something that you plan to do in the long term, and you’re not employed in any full-time job, then being legit will definitely help you out.


  • You’ll be a law abiding citizen.
  • You have proof that you are earning money. This proof can be used for things like getting a credit card, a phone line, a car or housing loan in the future, etc.
  • You actually have official receipts enabling you to get big clients without worry.
  • You are in control of how much you earn, spend, and declare.


  • You will do all the paper work on your own.
  • You need to pay percentage tax once a month, income taxes 4 times a year, and a registration fee once a year.
  • You need to give out receipts to your customers and maintain books of accounts.

The cons aren’t really that bad. You only need a few hours per month to organize and pay things and that’s it. Below are the steps on how to get registered assuming you already have a TIN number.

Important Terms

RDO – Regional District Office

RDOs only handle people’s taxes in their specified areas so for example you previously worked at Quezon but started freelancing in Makati, you need to go to the RDO in Quezon and get them to change your RDO to Makati. They will take around 5 days to transfer your papers and information to the other RDO.

Form 0605 – Payment Form

You will use this form to pay for the annual registration fee of Php500.00. Make sure to photocopy this form at least 4 times since it will be attached on other forms.

Form 1905 – Application for Registration Information Update/Correction/Cancellation

This form is used to update information/ change status, change RDO, etc

Form 1901 – Application for Registration

Only fill up the information you know. As a freelance artist you just need to indicate that you are a professional engaging in freelance illustration services as well as the 3 taxes you need to pay:

  1. Registration Fee
  2. Income Tax
  3. Percentage Tax

There are other taxes that can be listed for you but it is recommended not to have these:

  1. Witholding Tax – if you are renting an office or apartment. (NOT RECOMMENDED)
  2. VAT – only if you earn around 2million a year.

STEP 1: Confirm or change your RDO

  1. You need to have a TIN number first. Not sure how to do this since I got mine when I got my first job.
  2. Go to nearest BIR to check if your RDO correctly matches your home address since you are engaging in freelance at home.
  3. If it is not correct, get the form 1905 go to the old RDO and submit form 1905 to change to your new RDO and wait around 1 week of processing. (if you have a fax machine, try to ask if you can fax it instead of going to the old RDO since it can be inconvenient.)
  4. While doing this, it is recommended that you also fill up the form 1901 so you can ask and double check future requirements needed.

STEP 2: Registration Requirements

MAIN Requirements for 1901 (Registration for professional)

  1. Paid Form 0605
  2. Barangay clearance

 Requirements of 0605

  • 3x xerox of form 0605
  • 500 pesos registration fee – pay it at a bank that serves your RDO

Requirements for barangay clearance

  • xerox of valid ID (postal ID is easiest to obtain if you don’t have a work ID)
  • xerox of voters receipt (you can use your postal ID to get this too)

*It is recommended that you DO NOT tell BIR that you are renting in an apartment if you are. This is because they will assign a new tax type to you (widtholding tax) that will involve the owner of the apartment. For example, if you pay 9,000 per month on rent, you will need to tell the apartment owner that you cannot pay the full amount anymore because you are forced to withold a certain amount from them BIR. If the apartment owner doesn’t pay taxes correctly or if they don’t want you engaging in business within their place, you might be kicked out if they find out. The way is to register a permanent address owned by a family member or friend that is near where you live.

STEP 3: COR, Seminar, and additional requirements

  1. Once your forms have been accepted, you must now attend a seminar to determine taxes needed to be paid by freelance artists.
  • 3% percent tax (Form 2251M)
  • annual 500 registration ( Form 0605)
  • income tax (Form 1701)
  • if renting an office, widtholding tax
  1. Pay Php 15.00 for the stamp on the COR just wait and get it signed by different people.
  1. Get your COR. This is your proof that you are officially registered now.
  1. Get a printer( to print receipts) from BIR and fill up form 1906
  • The minimum cost at BIR is Php 1000.00 for 10 stacks of the receipts. If you want to save money, it will be better to find a different printer service but I can’t guarantee finding a cheaper one. The receipts last for 5 years I believe.
  1. Buy two ledgers from national bookstore need 10 – 12 columns (around P220 each)
  1. Fill up the form 1905 again but this time for the ledgers. Bring the ff:
  • Xerox of form 0605
  • Xerox of COR
  • stamp the ledgers (ask the guard how to stamp it)

STEP 4: Now you are officially registered!

  1. Get the Receipts when it is available and get the “Ask for Receipt Signboard” at the same time.
  2. Download eBIRForms from the website.

* Technically, each step can be done within one day so you only need at least 4 working days to register yourself as a professional freelancer.

STEP 5: Setup

  1. Display the Ask for receipt notices and COR on your wall where you work.
  2. Buy carbon copy paper and fill up the receipt whenever you get paid. (Make sure the carbon copy paper will transfer to your copy of the receipt)
  3. Give your client the receipt for each payment received.
  4. Write down the proper information in your ledgers for each sale or expense (if you want to use itemized deductions).

STEP 6: BIR filing of payment for 0605 and 2551M

  1. Open the eBIRForms software, fill it up, and make sure the information is the same as your COR.
  2. Select the form you need. (it is recommended that you do this step for the first time inside the BIR office so you can ask someone to help you.)
  3. Once inside the form page, select ATC and click the correct category. (PT010 for form 2551M, MC180 for form 0605)
  4. Press Validate
  5. Press Save to save a local copy.
  6. Print 3 copies.
  7. Press Final Copy to submit to BIR. Click cancel if it asks if you are a member online
  8. Click Agree to terms then you should receive an email of the proof of the transaction.
  9. Print 3 copies of the emails too and attach them to the 3 printed copies of the form
  10. Go to the nearest RDO bank and pay for it and you are done for the month!

STEP 7: ITR filing

  • This step is still under construction but it is similar to step 6 only with additional computations and tips. I’ll continue to update this as I understood this process better.
  • You have to choose between using Itemized deduction or the Optional 40% deduction.
  • These deductions can reduce the income tax you need to pay. For freelance artists, it is usually better to choose the optional standard 40% deduction unless you spend more than 40% your income on business related expenses. Personally, I don’t spend that much on business related expenses since most business spending I have are only for maintaining the business such as internet, electricity, occasional computer repair/upgrades. Unfortunately we cannot deduct expenses such as food, personal insurance. There is also certain limits to some deductibles. You can read more about them here.
  • If you still plan to use the itemized deduction method, be prepared to have all the proof(receipts, etc.) of your purchases all logged in your Cash Disbursement book.
  • Quarterly ITRs are very easy to file if you use the optional 40% deductions.
  • For more information on filing the last ITR which accounts for the whole year, please check others sites for now since I am not yet familiar on the steps regarding it since it will be more complex due to the personal exemption deduction.

STEP 8: Books of accounts/ledgers

  • Basically you need to record your professional expenses(cash disbursement) and Sales(cash receipts) in these columnar books.
  • You can buy these books in any bookstore and they come in lots of columns. Personally, I’m not a specialist in this area but the only important thing to do is to make sure to note down important details such as Date, Invoice number, Merchant or Client (for Sales Book), Transaction, and Amount.
  • The purpose of these books is simply to compile all transactions.
  • If you do not plan to use the itemized deduction method for the ITR, then you don’t really need to fill up the Cash Disbursement Book.


  1. Annual Registration – (0605) – Due on or before January 31
  2. 3% Percentage Tax Returns (2551M) – Due on the 20th of the next month of the period covered. Ex. For the payment of March, the deadline will be on April 20
  3. Income Tax Returns – (1701Q and 1701):
  • 1st Qtr due on April 15
  • 2nd Qtr due on August 15
  • 3rd Qtr due on November 15
  • Final Return due on April 15 the following year


Now that I’m registered, do I still need to go back to BIR everytime?

  • No, you don’t need to go to BIR anymore. Just make sure to pay on time using eBIRForms and pay to your nearest RDO bank or online using GCash.

How will BIR know how much I earned for the month?

  • They won’t since it is mostly an honesty based system. You should be good so long as you keep a clean record and file the necessary documents on time always.

What will I do if I did not earn anything for a month?

  • Continue to file using eBIRForms like normal but make sure you indicate that your earning is 0. Not filing anything online will result in your account getting an open case. This is automatically generated by the system.

How will I know if the payment worked?

  • You need to check if you received an email of confirmation from eBIRForms for each filing. This email will let you know that your filing online worked. Just make sure you actually pay before the deadline what you filed.
  • The best way to check is just go to BIR and ask if you have any open cases. Each penalty is worth at least Php 1,000.00 so make sure you remember your deadlines.

How to fill receipt if the client is foreign?

  • Just fill whatever info you get and convert the dollar amount to peso on the day you received it.

For the ITR, Is the personal exemption deductible?

  • Yes but you can only deduct it on the final ITR on the year. If it turns out that BIR owes you money after this, then you can use that extra credits to reduce your taxes next year.

I’m still new to all of this and it is not yet that detailed and complete but I hope this guide will help make things easier. For more details, there is always the official website. I will still update this soon once I’m able to pass through the ITR process next.

Thanks for reading! Here are some additional guides that might help:

Full Suite – The Ultimate Guide to BIR Forms


2015 Summary and Freelancing with Local vs Foreign Clients

Happy new year everyone! !

2015 has been a year of transitions. I started working freelance full-time since March. The company I worked for changed industries and left the gaming industry unfortunately. This has been the main push for me and my colleagues to get out of our comfort zones.

I thought freelancing would make it a lot easier for me to do personal art but, it was the opposite and my schedule(or lack of one) got messed up way too easily. This is something I’m still working on.

I’ve also encountered all sorts of clients. I want people to get an idea of how this freelancing thing works so I’ve made a list below of my clients so far.

  1. Foreign Client #1 – The client found me from a past client. The work was great but I had to do work that was not what I was aiming for but I learned a lot.
  2. Local Client #2 – Got referred by a friend and did some stylized work for kids with the help of my girlfriend. The client didn’t pay in full and had lots of complications because we never had a contract which was my fault too.
  3. Local Client #3 – Got work from old workmates. It was for a children’s book so the style was new to me. I collaborated with my gf again. It was fun and short but the style wasn’t for me.
  4. Local Client # 4 – Got referred by old workmates. The work was what I really wanted but the communication and pacing was terrible so we had to jump ship eventually.
  5. Foreign Client # 2 – The client found me from Artstation. I got to do lots of fantasy illustrations that I still can’t post. I’m still doing a lot of work for this client and hopefully I can post some stuff sometime this 2016.

Things would’ve been harder if not for my girlfriend. I got to hand it to her for always being there. <3

Basically, the lessons/highlights I got from 2015:

  • Local clients have not been ideal from our experience of 4 out of 5 clients. They want to meet up often which is a waste of time instead of just emailing comments. The pay is also not that great and most don’t know or want to do contracts.
  • Foreign clients have been better so far. Not only is it easier to talk to them but they also pay faster and better.
  • I finally registered myself as a professional freelancer. I will post a different blog post about this some time.
  • Get help if you think there’s not enough time. It’s better to get help from a friend instead of sacrificing the quality of your work
  • Scheduling is extremely critical. I’m working on this more now to get back more of my personal time. I use Google Calendar for repeating events, bills, etc and I use Google Keep for checklists.
  • Waiting on the right time to do your personal stuff isn’t going to work. It’s best to be strict with yourself and dedicate at least 30min a day on what you really want to do.

I guess that’s it. If you’ve read up to here, thank you very much! Now that being a freelancer has sort of stabilized, I’m sure there will be a lot more new stuff in store for 2016.


New Website!

Hi Guys! You probably noticed that my site has a new layout!

It’s very hard to let go of the old website design since I put tons of hours into creating it. A lot of attention was put into the layout textures and details to try to emulate Blizzard websites. I think I sort of succeeded but change needs to happen. Right now, mobile has become the norm and websites need to adapt.

To create this site, I used a free theme called Bones. It apparently uses this new way to do CSS called SASS which stands for Syntactically Awesome Stylesheets! I threw the grungy look for a more clean and minimalistic approach where mobile comes first.

I really hope this works better overall to represent my capabilities. I actually added a few new images. Try to browse around and see them.

This is just the beginning and I can’t wait to create more art! Thanks for dropping by! 🙂

The Sims 4! Finally!

Sims 4!!

I don’t think I’ve really told you guys much about what I’ve done for work these past months/years so I’ll try to give more details now that the game is out.

I’m extremely proud to have been part of the creation of the Sims 4! I’ve been involved with it since the end of 2011 ’til March of 2014. I still can’t believe it was that long but it was definitely a fun learning experience! I’d like to detail everything out but it might bore you guys so I’ll just put bullet points of the highlights of production:

  • Did a few art tests and learned how to create design documents
  • Made props and room concept art using 3D as base
  • Learned the 3D hand painted texture style
  • First time to learn and use Zbrush for production
  • Lead a small team of 4 that eventually scaled up to 11 people
  • Thanks to these guys, I learned how to better communicate and how to organize things in excel sheets. Doing good art is one thing and managing a group of people to be consistent is a whole other level. My patience was tested but thanks to their support, we managed to pull everything together. Thanks to my teammates, Gizelle, Aaron, Anshelle, Marion, Maurice, MJ, Arvin, Emman, Mike, Nad, Teejay, JJ, Jackson, Chen, Jael, Noel, to the objects team, and to the rest of the crew at the office.
  • Our clients from EA visited us a few times in the Philippines and it was a memorable experience meeting them. Nothing beats getting feedback and lessons face to face. This was also the first time EA credited us outsourcers! Big thanks to Derek, Ti, Caiphus, Ethan, Alex, and Lisette! Thank you very much for everything!

Hope I didn’t bore you guys. Here are some of the 3D clothes I did for the game. EA did all the skin and most of the meshes so it was easier for us to put clothes on them. Cheers! (I don’t think I can release some concept art but this will do for now.)

PS: If you know me in real life.. these guys should look familiar. 😉